Specialist Employment Service

The Specialist Employment Project commenced at the beginning of June 2011 and has been funded by Derbyshire County Council for a 10 month pilot period. The funding received has allowed us to employ a specialist Employment Caseworker for 9 hours per week. Following the withdrawal of the Derbyshire Welfare Rights Employment Service earlier in the year, our project has ensured that clients living within South Derbyshire still have access to specialist employment advice.

Over the year our Caseworker has worked to full capacity and has provided high quality advice to 88 clients. The majority of clients accessing the project have needed support to pursue unfair dismissal and unlawful deductions from wages. Since June 2011 our Caseworker has succeeded in securing £115,990 worth of compensation for clients accessing our service.

Our Caseworker has identified a rising trend in employers dismissing employees for gross misconduct rather than paying redundancy payments. In order to promote good practice and raise employee awareness around redundancy legislation our Caseworker launched a media campaign in September 2011. This campaign successfully promoted our project and the work we do.

As a consequence of the economic downturn, demand for our project has increased significantly during the last 6 months. As no other specialist employment services exist within South Derbyshire our Generalist advice service dealt with 798 employment issues over the last 12 months. Due to the complexity of employment legislation many of these clients would have benefited greatly from receiving specialist employment advice, had additional resources been available.

Over the last 12 months we have received approximately 90 hours of free supervision from a local solicitor. This arrangement has allowed us to invest the majority of funding received into client facing casework. Without this excellent, generous support we would be unable to sustain the level of service provided to our clients currently.

Case Study

Client worked as reception manager for 5 years and spent 2 years on shop floor previously. Client had surgery in June on his right leg and has been off work since this date. Company sent a representative over to clients home to carry out an occupational health check which confirmed that he would be fit to return to work within 3 – 6 months.

Company disagreed with their own medical assessment and insisted that client should be dismissed for capability reasons. Client received written confirmation of their intentions however the letter stated that he was unable to return to his current role on the shop floor. Client had not worked on the shop floor for over 5 years.

Client contacted the bureau on the 27 September 2011 for advice and support.

Caseworker contacted employer to obtain a copy of their “sickness and return to work policy” which highlighted that company were in breach of their own policy by ignoring the medical opinion. Caseworker also challenged the role outlined within the employer’s letter.

As employers appeared set on dismissing client, caseworker advised client to pursue issue through Employment Tribunal and supported client to complete ET1 form. Two weeks after the ET1 was submitted employer contacted client and offered to reinstate him into previous role as reception manager. Caseworker supported client to secure an annual income of £26,000 for client.