Law firm partnership opportunity: Work Rights Centre

Work Rights Centre are a charity dedicated to ending precarious work. Established in 2016 by migrants and for migrants, they work to help vulnerable workers understand and access their employment rights, and secure their social mobility with employability and digital literacy advice.

About Work Rights Centre

Work Rights Centre (WRC) are a charity dedicated to ending precarious work. Established in 2016 by migrants and for migrants, they work to help vulnerable workers understand and access their employment rights, and secure their social mobility with employability and digital literacy advice.

WRC pride themselves on their multilingual team of advisers, and the bridges they have built to vulnerable migrant communities. Every week they hear from an average of 16 new beneficiaries in London, and four in their Manchester outpost. Most of them are Romanian, Bulgarian, Russian-speakers and Spanish-speakers, who work in manual occupations in the gig economy - on zero-hours, self-employed, or fully informal positions, far from the protections of unionised work.  For many, WRC are their first contact with a third sector organisation, and a veritable path to social integration in the UK.

Over the past five years, they have recovered over £95,000 in unpaid wages and invoices, and helped hundreds of vulnerable people access work, training (English and IT literacy), and financial assistance when they were struggling with unemployment. WRC are a small but ambitious team (4.6 FTE), who value evidence-based learning, and are serious about the robustness of their casework.

Further information about the work of WRC, beneficiaries, impact and case studies is available on their website.

Local need

Ever since the exclusion of employment from legal aid (in all but discrimination cases), this area of legal advice has been significantly under-resourced. The worst hit are workers in low-paid sectors, who struggle to afford private legal advice, and migrant workers  who experience additional barriers of language, indebtedness, mistrust in authorities, and often work in positions that offer no union protection. As many as a third of the beneficiaries who approach us lack written terms of work.

The lack of employment legal advice at national level is compounded by local inequalities. The law centre in Brent, WRC's home-borough in London, closed in 2019. In Manchester, where their second office is based, just one law centre is available for 2.8 million people.

Furthermore, even among the organisations which can provide employment advice, there is a lack of capacity to reach out to migrant workers. The importance of sustained outreach in migrant communities cannot be understated – on social media, and in person, via workshops in schools, churches, and children’s centres. Trust in the law takes time to build. This is why the WRC have embedded multilingualism at the core of their advice service, and why they are now seeking to widen this experience with expert legal support.

Work Rights Centre legal advice clinic

The WRC want to establish an Employment Legal Advice Clinic that will enable their team to support migrant workers through every stop of the employment justice process – from initial advice, to tribunal representation. The vision for the service is outlined below, but open to discussion with interested volunteers or law firms.

  • A fortnightly clinic on a weekday evening or Saturday morning, run remotely.
  • Cases will have been reviewed and triaged by Work Rights Centre caseworkers and include a one-page summary with key case details (and any other information, as instructed by the solicitor, to ensure that they make the most of their time).
  • Work Rights Centre advisers will support the solicitor in gathering evidence, communicating with beneficiaries and translation, and completing any case management and administrative work necessary (eg. ET1 form filling).

WRC see this as a valuable opportunity to extend the depth of their service, by plugging the gap in their ability to provide legal advice. But beyond this, it is an opportunity to build the team’s capacity – by improving processes, building smart templates, and inspiring their team. WRC have a young and ambitious team of advisers, including two who are preparing for a GDL. Establishing this clinic is seen as an opportunity for professional development, and real mentorship.

Law Firm Partnership Opportunity

The Work Rights Centre is a small but agile organisation, with a real desire to end precarious work and use case data to affect long-term change. They would greatly value the Employment Legal Advice Clinic. Making this commitment:

  • Use solicitors’ time wisely – come prepared, ask the important questions, learn from their work.
  • Give due credit – regularly acknowledge the value of the clinic, the firm, and individual solicitors involved in online communications where desired.
  • Amplify our learning – take the lead in crunching case data, spotting patterns, documenting interesting cases in depth, and using this material to raise awareness of precarious work – through smart communication with the media, academics, and policy makers.

You will be working directly with a team of employment rights advisers who have a great deal of respect for their craft and the beneficiaries they serve. But more broadly, you will also be supported by the communications professionals, data crunchers, and policy influencers, who will be keen to amplify the learnings from the clinic. You can learn more about the team on their website, or on Twitter and Facebook.

Contact

For more information, or to register your interest email caroline.bullen@lawworks.org.uk.

Details

Opportunity location:
Online
United Kingdom
GB
Region:
Greater London
North West England
Opportunity type:
Closing date:
Monday, June 21, 2021
Contact:
caroline.bullen@lawworks.org.uk
Opportunity area of law: