Online Legal Clinic

Mumsnet, Maternity Action and the Employment Lawyers Association are teaming up to provide an online legal clinic, offering advice from qualified employment solicitors and barristers on pregnancy, maternity and parental rights at work.

Maternity Action reports huge demand for its advice line, especially topics such as redundancy during maternity leave, return to work, maternity pay and rights during pregnancy, and on Mumsnet's Talk forums, the topic of employment rights is a hardy perennial. The clinic will respond to this demand in a hopefully innovative way, providing free, accurate, public advice online and raising awareness of parents' rights at work. It will also enable Maternity Action and Mumsnet to identify trends and produce permanent content to address areas in which employers and workers could benefit from clear, upfront guidance.

The clinic will take the form of a 'Q&A' session on Mumsnet, with members of the public posting questions about their employment rights dilemmas relating to pregnancy, maternity and parental rights at work on a dedicated public discussion thread. Specialist solicitors and barristers will take necessary additional detail via private messaging before posting up answers and advice.

The clinic will run for a week from 5th to 9th November, and if successful Mumsnet, Maternity Action and the Employment Lawyers Association will run further sessions on a quarterly basis. We will do our best to provide all answers during the week but, at the latest, by the end of the following week. You can find information on where to go for more help once the clinic has ended below.

The lawyers, all of whom are specialists in employment law, will be working as volunteers for Maternity Action in respect of the clinic. Those posing the questions will be asked to disclose their name and the name of their employer via private message to the volunteers, so that possible conflicts of interest can be ruled out. Users can also take advantage of the private message facility to disclose any information they would prefer to keep off the public forums. Personal information collected in this way will be held by Maternity Action and will be deleted after 18 months.

The advice provided to an individual poster is based only on the information provided by that poster. Advice on this thread is also particular to the individual who has asked for it and is likely to be specific to that person’s situation. A poster may have provided further relevant information by private message which will not appear on this thread. So please take care if you choose to apply that advice to your own situation – it is recommended that you first take legal advice from one of the sources we have recommended [here]. Mumsnet, Maternity Action, Maternity Action's volunteers and the Employment Lawyers Association accept no liability for any loss suffered as a result of an individual choosing to follow advice provided to another poster's question on the thread.

If you wish to make a complaint about the service you received, you can use Maternity Action’s complaints policy at the bottom of this page.

We would like to send you a feedback survey after the clinic has closed. This helps us to find out whether you found the clinic helpful and whether the advice helped you to resolve your situation at work.

Where to go for more help

What can I do if I am having problems at work?

It is best to try to resolve any problems at work by talking to your employer informally. You can get information on your rights from some of the organisations below. If you are in a union, you should speak to your union rep and, if it is more complex, ask to speak to the legal department. Maternity and parental rights at work are a complex area of law so it may help to provide lots of information for your employer.

Keep talking to your employer to try to resolve it. You could speak to a manager, someone more senior, or talk to your HR department. It’s best to keep it amicable and focus on solutions to problems, rather than complaints about what has gone wrong.

If you are unable to resolve it by talking to your employer, you could try putting it in writing, outlining what has happened and your suggestions as to how to resolve it. If you are not happy with the outcome, try to get legal advice if you are thinking of resigning or making a tribunal claim. As a last resort, you can use your employer’s grievance procedure, however, this is usually treated as a complaint rather than a way of solving problems.

There is a time limit for making a complaint in an employment tribunal of three months (less one day) from the date of the act you are complaining about. If you are thinking of making a tribunal claim, you will need to telephone ACAS first to start Early Conciliation.

The organisations below may be able to provide more help and information:

UK-wide

ACAS
For advice on employment rights or for Early Conciliation if you are thinking of making a tribunal claim. There is a time limit of three months (less one day) for making an employment tribunal claim.
www.acas.org.uk
Helpline: 0300 123 11 00

Advocate
To apply for free representation for a tribunal hearing you must be referred by a Citizen’s Advice Bureau or other advice agencies: https://weareadvocate.org.uk/

Citizen's Advice Bureau
For information about your rights and to find details of local advice bureau:
www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Civil Legal Advice
You can legal aid for free legal advice for discrimination claims. To check your eligibility, telephone 0345 345 4 345 or see: www.gov.uk/civil-legal-advice

Equality Advisory Support Service
Telephone advice on discrimination and human rights
Telephone: 0808 800 0082
Textphone: 0808 800 0084

Employment Tribunal Litigant In Person Support Scheme (ELIPS) will provide advice on employment tribunal claims which have already been issued for people who do not have a representative. Suitable for short hearings of one day or less.

This scheme operates in London Central, Cardiff and Birmingham employment tribunals, see:
www.elaweb.org.uk/content/employment-tribunal-litigant-person-support-scheme-elips

Free Representation Unit
Free representation for employment and social security hearings in London, South East or Nottingham by law students and trainees. This is suitable for short cases such as unpaid wages, holiday and sick pay or refusal of benefits.
You must be referred by a Citizen’s Advice Bureau or other advice agencies: www.thefru.org.uk/

Law Centres Network
To find out if there is a Law Centre in your area where you may be able to get free advice or representation, telephone 020 3637 1330 or see: www.lawcentres.org.uk

Law Society
How to search for an employment or discrimination solicitor in your area:
England and Wales http://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/
Scotland www.lawscot.org.uk/find-a-solicitor
Northern Ireland www.lawsoc-ni.org/solicitors

Law Works
Free legal help from volunteer lawyers for those who cannot afford it or are not entitled to legal aid: www.lawworks.org.uk/

Maternity Action
Free online information and telephone advice on maternity and parental rights and benefits
www.maternityaction.org.uk
Telephone: 0808 802 0029 – for opening hours see: www.maternityaction.org.uk/advice-2/advice-line/

HMRC Statutory Payments Disputes Team
For payments of Statutory Maternity Pay/Adoption Pay/Paternity Pay/Shared Parental Pay or Statutory Sick Pay when your employer is insolvent or refusing to pay: 0300 0560 630

Working Families
Free advice on maternity and parental rights and benefits
www.workingfamilies.org.uk
Telephone: 0300 012 0312 – for opening hours see: www.workingfamilies.org.uk/advice-information/free-parents-carers-helpline/

Scotland

Edinburgh University
Free legal advice clinic:
Email freelegaladvice@ed.ac.uk or call 0800 073 0150

Strathclyde University
Free legal advice clinic:
Email: enquiries@lawclinic.org.uk or call 0141 548 5995

Complaints policy

By phone
Complaints by telephone should be made by contacting Maternity Action’s main office on 020 7253 2288 and asking to speak to the Director.

In writing
If you feel that you are more comfortable raising the issue in writing, a formal letter of complaint should be sent to the Director providing as much detail of the complaint as possible.

Any written complaints should be marked ‘Private and Confidential’ and addressed to:

The Director
Maternity Action
52-54 Featherstone Street
London
EC1Y 8RT

We will respond to you to acknowledge receipt of your complaint within 2 working days.

We will undertake to have investigated and resolved the complaint and provided a response to you about any action necessary within 10 days of receiving your complaint.

Further appeal
If, after having received a response from the Director, you still feel that your complaint has not been resolved satisfactorily, the Director will immediately refer your complaint to the Chair of Maternity Action's Board of Trustees, sending copies of all written correspondence.

You will be notified of the Chair’s decision within 15 working days of receipt of the complaint.


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