The Growth Company together with Citizens Advice Manchester, Citizens Advice Bury & Bolton and a network of legal partners, have set up Employment Legal Advice – a new service to help individuals across Greater Manchester to access free employment-related legal support.
Our service is designed to help you access the right advice at the right time as quickly and easily as possible. We have supported people with a wide range of employment issues including: Discrimination, unpaid wages, dismissal, bullying, contractual issue, harassment, long term sickness, redundancy and pregnancy.
Of those who contact the service; 35% are disabled or have a health condition, 13% speak English as a second language and 17% work in a low paid industry.
“The service provided was incredibly important to me as it was my only source of support. Due to the nature of the costs involved with legal cases, I could not afford to acquire representation and being on my own was very daunting. The service offered me encouragement and support at a desperately low time in my life.”
“This service changed my life around. It turned everything into a positive. It helped me find a way out. The help from the advice line, then the solicitors – I ended up leaving a job which had made me very poorly both mentally and physically which I had been living for 4 years. I was in so much physical pain every day. On leaving that job (via a settlement agreement) it felt like a mountain had dropped from my shoulders, not a rock. The weight of it was so huge. I am now living my life again; I was in hell. This service helped so much. I am now in a position mentally where I can look at healing myself. I couldn’t do this before; my mind was so clouded by all my employment worries.”
“I was literally desperate at that time. I’d had long COVID for 6 months, I was physically really poorly, I just wanted my old life back, I used to go out a lot, because of this I stopped going out altogether. My mental health then became very poor. It was so nice to have someone to speak to at that time. The advisor was so kind to me. I didn’t know what to do. You helped point me in the right direction and with what to do next. I was clueless beforehand and had built my employment issue up so much in my mind it was making me really ill.”
Hayley Hughes, Head of Business Development & Local Services, Citizen’s Advice Manchester:
“Our key reason for partnering on this project was an increase in the demand for employment advice, although this specific increase was generated by the pandemic, we have long been aware that there is a gap in access to employment (legal) advice in Manchester.
Unfortunately, when people encounter an employment issue, they are often left with nowhere else to turn other than fee paying solicitors. Many of the people who access our service simply do not have the financial means to instruct a solicitor and therefore often they will not pursue their case.
We have limited capacity to deal with specialist employment advice cases, so for Citizen’s Advice Manchester, this allows us to help more people by having a referral route into pro-bono advice. For our service users it gives them access to advice that they need and practical help and support to deal with the case e.g., completing forms and writing letters. We have limited capacity to support people with complex employment issues so this project adds significant capacity to our service.”
Feedback from Manchester City Council has been:
“There is no one else like this. This service is purely employment law, the legal side. For people to have access to expert qualified solicitors in this field, without needing the finances to do it – they wouldn’t be able to access this type of help anywhere else.”
Stockport Homes also commented:
“The free Employment Legal Advice Service you provide has been exceptional. The empathic, professional, supportive and efficient service the customers have received has not only resulted in successful outcomes but also provided reassurance, hope, clarity and direction at a time when customers are feeling most vulnerable, overwhelmed and unable to cope.”
Rochdale Council have also added:
“This service is essential for people in jobs that are a necessity in terms of their livelihoods. People have experienced pay cuts or redundancy which may be unfair, so they need support in fighting for their rights to the right pay and/or right to stay in a job and/or amount of redundancy. Most often these people cannot afford to pay for the legal service they need so the free Employment Legal Advice Service (ELAS) would be the ideal service to assist them.”
For more information, please visit: Free Employment Legal Advice | The Growth Company.