At workSMART, we stress the need to take further advice promptly – especially before you do anything drastic about a problem at work. Listed below are links and references to relevant agencies, services and sources of information on your rights at work.
Join a trade union
Unions are expert at dealing with all kinds of problems at work and at providing advice and support. And although people can sometimes feel very alone when facing work difficulties, it is often the case that you are not the only one who feels as you do, and that colleagues are suffering in silence. The root of many work-related problems lies in the way work is organised, rather than with individuals and personalities. Tackling issues collectively can help your employer see issues from a different perspective.
Most problems at work are best tackled by supporting each other and acting together. If you are not sure which union is the one most suited to your needs, or if you are unsure how to join a union, or of the benefits of doing so, use our Union Finder tool.
This established helpline provides free advice to both employers and workers on a range of problems at work, including issues relating to pay and the National Minimum Wage. It has taken over the work that used to be done by the Pay & Work Rights Helpline. For example, if you have a claim for the National Minimum Wage, the helpline worker will be able to refer your claim to an HMRC enforcement officer. The Acas Helpline number is 0300 123 1100.
AdviceUK provides information about local advice agencies.
The Law Works website provides details of a network of free legal advice sessions, including employment law.
The national charity Citizens Advice can offer advice if you visit a local office. Advice by phone is also available. Adviceline, Citizen Advice’s new national phone service, is being rolled out across the UK and details can be found on the website.
The Law Centres Federation
The Law Centres Federation can help you find the nearest independent, not-for-profit law centre where you live.
The Claims Management Regulator
The Claims Management Regulator is part of the Ministry of Justice. It enforces the standards for employment and redundancy consultants who are not qualified solicitors or barristers. It has a searchable database you can use to check whether an advisor is registered. Offering employment advice for reward when unregistered is against the law. Email: email@example.com. Tel: 0333 200 0110.
The Employment Tribunal Service
Visit the Employment Tribunal Service webpages on GOV.UK for information about making a claim or on tribunal procedures, or call their Enquiry Line on 0300 123 1024 (England and Wales) or 0141 354 8574 (Scotland).
The Employment Tribunal Claims blog
Authors Naomi Cunningham and Michael Reed of the Free Representation Unit run the useful Employment Tribunal Claims blog, which includes practical guidance on bringing tribunal claims, aimed especially at litigants who are representing themselves. The Legal Action Group charity also publishes a handbook – Employment Tribunal Claims – by the same authors.
The GOV.UK web portal
The GOV.UK web portal publishes simplified information about employment rights.
The Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) provides advice on discrimination issues and explains legal rights and remedies. Tel: 0808 800 0082 (textphone: 0808 800 0084).
Many other specialist charities and not-for-profit organisations also offer specific support.
Public Concern at Work can provide advice on whistleblowing. Tel: 020 7404 6609.
The Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EASI) makes sure a worker is paid what they are entitled to and doesn't have their wages withheld, ensures an employment agency doesn't charge a fee for finding an agency worker assignments, ensures agency workers are given written information about the type of work the agency will find for them and about each assignment, that the agency worker is not forced to pay for extra services they didn’t ask for and has a safe environment to work in.
The EASI takes up complaints against agencies and has enforcement and inspection powers. Complaints can result in prosecution of errant agencies and even their closure. The EASI publishes an online list of people who have been banned from running an employment agency or business.
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) is the trade association for employment agencies. It sets standards for its members. If your agency has a REC symbol on its premises or notepaper and you have a serious complaint about their behaviour, you can contact REC and they will investigate it on your behalf.
The Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) operates a licensing and regulation system for agriculture, horticulture, shellfish gathering and associated packaging and processing. The GLAA can investigate labour abuse allegations across the entire UK labour market, although its licensing and regulation system only operates in the listed sectors.
The Act has also created a new specialist investigator role at the GLAA – the Labour Abuse Prevention Officer – whose job will involve making detailed inquiries into labour market abuses.
You can check the public register maintained by the GLAA to find out whether a labour provider is licensed.
The GLAA website also has helpful guidance for workers concerned about working conditions.
Health and Safety
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the official agency that enforces health and safety law. It produces a wide range of free leaflets dealing with specific hazards, as well as how to protect vulnerable groups such as homeworkers or pregnant women. To access guidance or register a concern, visit the pages of the HSE website that are aimed at providing advice for agency and other temporary workers.
The HSE does not enforce all health and safety laws. In many sectors, the correct enforcement body is your local authority. Check the list published by the HSE to find the correct regulator where you work.
You can find a range of useful materials related to working time rights on the GOV.UK website.
The HSE (see above) and the Environmental Health Department of your local council may also be able to help and provide advice on your specific circumstances.
Maternity Action provides advice to pregnant women and new parents. Call its helpline on 0845 600 8533.
The charity Working Families also has a helpline for parents and carers. Tel: 0300 012 0312.