Working Families Legal Advice Line Appeal

Every year Working Families helps 3,000 parents, the majority on low incomes, remain in work. We have a dedicated Legal Advice Line providing:

• free advice on key work-life balance rights such as maternity and paternity leave and pay, and unpaid parental leave

• assistance with requests for negotiating flexible work, or with contesting imposed changes to an existing work agreement

• advice on relevant in-work benefits and tax credits – vital for those who form part of the growing ‘in-work poverty’ group

It does more than this though, the helpline team coaches callers to be able to negotiate a mutually beneficial solution that, wherever possible, allows them to stay in their job.


Lisa’s story…

Lisa works for a major retail company employing thousands of people UK-wide. When returning from maternity leave, she was told that because she had taken more than 26 weeks, she couldn’t have her old hours back. The employer had taken someone else on to do her hours.

Our helpline team advised that this wasn’t lawful. After more than 26 weeks of maternity leave, the employer still has to give a woman her job back, on the same terms and conditions as before, unless this is ‘not reasonably practicable’. We advised that ‘not reasonably practicable’ didn’t apply in this case because the employer could have covered the client’s old hours on a temporary basis, with the assumption that she would return.

We encouraged the client to continue negotiating with her employer and after a few weeks, Lisa and her employer reached an agreement that she could return on her old hours. The company also issued guidance to all their staff explaining the right to return to work from maternity leave in full, so that other women won’t lose out in the future. Lisa wrote to us afterwards:

Lisa’s note to Working Families is a testimony of our work:

“I just wanted to say a huge thank you for your support and advice with the problems I had when returning from maternity leave.

Without your help I would not have had the confidence to negotiate with my employer…

I have just returned to work and have now been told the maternity policy has been edited; all colleague handbooks are being reprinted and they are reviewing all their policies around maternity!

I feel much happier that no one else at my company will go through the same issues I did in the future. Thank you again as without your help this would not have happened!”

A plea

Advice services across the UK are closing because of the cuts to legal aid. For those that remain, like the Working Families helpline:

  • there is much greater competition for funding.
  • for parents facing discrimination and unlawful treatment at work, it is harder to find the help they need so desperately – like Lisa

We are proud to have kept the helpline open throughout the recession, but it is a real challenge to raise the £150k we need every year – and, in 2015, we came to the end of three years of Lottery funding, which has not yet been replaced. We urgently need funding for the Working Families’ helpline, so please consider making a donation or becoming a regular donor to help ensure the future of this valuable service.

If you would like to donate, please fill in the secure Charities Aid Foundation donate form below. If you are a UK tax payer, adding Giftaid to your donation will increase its value by 25% and help us to achieve more with your money. We would love to stay in touch and update you on what you help us to achieve but we will never pass your details on to a third party or inundate you with calls and emails.