Project information

Working Families Legal Advice Service

Working families are too often the ‘working poor’. Few know about their rights at work, most acutely parents on low incomes and in unskilled jobs. We provide free legal advice, helping parents to assert their in-work rights and stay in work, and protect their family time together as well as income.

Ongoing service

Charity information: Working Families

Working Families logo
  • Need


    Families need money AND time to thrive. For too many parents, work and family life is in conflict. Women lose their jobs when they become pregnant or return after maternity leave; carefully balanced childcare and work can be undone by an imposed change to working hours; fathers who would like to play an active part at home find work unforgiving. Parents need to understand their rights at work, so that they can achieve the balance between home and work which best suits their family life.


    Our free Legal Advice Service gives advice by phone and email on flexible working, maternity and parental rights at work, and in-work benefits. Our advice, coaching and support are accurate, compassionate, tactical, practical and simple to understand. We help parents to understand how the law applies to them, and to negotiate with their manager to enable them to remain in their job – and where appropriate and possible, to modify their job so that it works better around their family’s needs.

  • 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.

  • 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 reports each year, looking at who we’ve advised, on what, and their feedback; a more analytical report, identifying trends and making recommendations for policy change, is written periodically. We share these, as well as tailored reports, with our donors.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £185,248

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      Amount Heading Description
      £83,889 Advice team Four part-time advisers
      £6,680 Professional costs CPD, practice certificates, professional indemnity
      £22,981 Policy and communications Service promotion, website, social media; associated research, analysis and reports
      £23,000 Project costs Dissemination, leaflets, publications and technology
      £1,980 Staff support Training, database helpline
      £24,083 Other staff Management and admin staff
      £18,325 Premises and running costs Rent, rates, phones, IT
      £4,310 Legal and audit Legal, audit, insurance, governance

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Trust for London £21,250 Guaranteed
    29th May 1961 Charitable Trust £5,000 Conditional
  • 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 will benefit directly from our personalised advice - in particular, those on low incomes and/or experiencing other disadvantage, including women, parents caring for disabled children and working parents from BAME backgrounds.

    Many thousands more will 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 as varied as CAB, Gingerbread, Acas, Contact a Family, trades unions and law centres.

    “I am impressed with the wealth of information [on your website]. I am promoting your website more widely to our advisers!” CAB adviser feedback

    “Excellent advice, by far the clearest I have read.” Parent feedback

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Sarah Jackson

    Working Families CEO | Sarah has led work-life balance campaigning and culture change for over 20 years, for which she was awarded an OBE in 2007.

    Sybille Raphael

    Head of Legal Advice Services | Sybille is an employment solicitor and expert on parental rights. She manages our three advisers plus volunteers.

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