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Project information

Legal Advice Service -empowering working parents

It provides free advice on employment rights to 2,500 working people per year, nearly 3/4 of whom are on low income. It gives parents and carers the understanding that it is possible to balance work and caring for loved ones, and arms them with the knowledge and expertise to make it happen

Ongoing service

Charity information: Working Families

Working Families logo
  • Need


    Negative workplace cultures and indequate legislation mean many people are making needless sacrifices to balance work and life:
    - 54,000 new and expectant mothers are treated so badly at work that they give up their jobs
    - Parents aren’t consulted when working hours are changed, unravelling carefully balanced childcare arrangements that they rely on
    - Fathers who would like to play an active part at home aren’t allowed to work flexibly, and regret all that they’ve missed


    The Legal Advice Service gives free, expert, specialist advice on employment rights.
    "Working Families gave me excellent, practical advice and I felt empowered...I have been able to negotiate with my employer...I can come back to work, afford childcare and still spend a decent amount of time with my baby during the week. Without your advice and help I really doubt I would be in this position now.” In 2019, our 40th year, we will influence policy makers to improve rights for those in work.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To help parents remain in work and achieve the balance of time and money their family needs.


    » Give timely, detailed and practical legal and benefits advice and support by phone and email.
    » Keep our online advice and information pages about parental working rights fully up-to-date.
    » Promote our Legal Advice Service widely, targeting parents most likely to need our help (those on low incomes/from a BAME background/women/carers).

    What success will look like

    Parents will tell us that they have been able to reach agreement with their employer about working hours, or have successfully challenged discrimination.

    Aim 2

    To influence policy-makers to help retain/shape/improve family-friendly employment law.


    » Advise BEIS on a range of initiatives supporting parents at work.
    » Actively contribute to a cross-government flexible working group to support the government to encourage more widespread flexible working.
    » Work with MPs and peers to ensure the UK government keeps pace with progressive employment rights deriving from the EU once we have left.
    » Intervene in cases before the Employment Appeal Tribunal where relevant, to help prevent/strengthen precedents for the benefit of working families.

    What success will look like

    We will see an increasingly family-centric emphasis to political discourse, party manifestos and policy agendas around work. Over time, employment law itself will improve.

  • Impact


    Long term, men and women will be more likely to combine work and caring responsibilities harmoniously. Our respected annual Modern Families Index and other research will identify childcare being shared more equally, more progressive and family-centric workplaces, and a closing of the gender pay gap. This in turn will lead to reduced discrimination, a greater role at home for fathers, increased innovation and productivity at work, and fewer parents obliged to give up work and rely on benefits.


    It is vital that our advice is of the highest quality and accuracy. As such, the advice team is led by an experienced solicitor, and supported pro bono by some of the UK’s top law firms and practitioners.

    We need to fundraise for the full costs of the service each year, a risk in itself in the current funding climate. But Working Families has successfully fundraised for this service for nearly 20 years and, with a growing portfolio of supporters, expects to be able to continue to do so.


    We produce several Legal Advice Service newsletters and reports each year, looking at who we’ve advised, on what, and their feedback, as well as updating donors on our training, outreach and other initiatives we are involved with. We share these, as well as tailored reports, with our donors.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £100,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £41,500 Advice team Appeal contribution towards salaries of four part-time advisers
      £8,500 Direct service costs Appeal contribution towards insurance, accreditation, practice certificates, office costs, training
      £25,000 Chief Executive Appeal contribution towards salary of new Chief Executive
      £10,000 Policy team Appeal contribution towards salary costs
      £15,000 Overheads Appeal contribution

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    By July 2018, four trusts, including Trust for London, and four law firms had donated towards the Legal Advice Service's 2018/19 costs. The core service, excluding extra deliverables, costs around £185,000 per year. £82,530 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Working Families is a national charity, and our Legal Advice Service is a UK-wide service.


    Annually, around 2,500 working parents and carers benefit directly from our personalised advice - in particular, those on low incomes (73%) and/or experiencing other disadvantage, including women, parents caring for disabled children and working parents from BAME backgrounds.

    Hundreds of thousands more use the information on our online advice pages to try to resolve their work problems themselves.

    And perhaps most importantly, these parents' families will benefit from better work-life balance

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We are the only organisation offering specialist legal advice to parents experiencing discrimination at work connected to their parenting responsibilities.

    We receive referrals from organisations such as Citizens Advice, Gingerbread, Acas, Contact a Family, trade unions and law centres.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Sarah Jackson | Retiring CEO/Working Families Ambassador

    Awarded an OBE in 2007, Sarah has led work-life balance campaigning and culture change for over 20 years. She brings her contacts and influence.

    Jane Van Zyl | CEO

    Appointed September 2018, Jane effectively and enthusiastically leads the charity and this project. She has extensive experience in service delivery.

    Sybille Raphael | Head Of Legal Advice Services

    Sybille is an employment solicitor and expert on parental rights. She leads our three-strong team of advisers plus 30+ volunteer employment lawyers.

    Julia Waltham | Head Of Policy

    With over 15 years' experience, Julia leads on our responses to policy/parliamentary consultations and provides evidence to parliamentary committees.

Flexible working and your right to request


will pay for us to give personalised legal advice to a parent struggling with a problem at work

I was having problems organising flexible working after maternity leave. You gave me excellent, practical advice; I felt empowered. I was able to negotiate a work pattern whereby I can work, afford childcare and still enjoy my baby during the week. Without your advice I wouldn’t be in this position.

A mother who contacted our Legal Advice Service in April, after experiencing problems trying to organise flexible working after maternity leave