Charity set to offer low-cost legal advice
Gabriella Jozwiak, February 25, 2014
A new charity is encouraging employees to settle disputes with employers without going to employment tribunal.
Employment lawyer Camilla Palmer will launch Your Employment Settlement Service (YESS) next month with the aim of reducing expenses for workers.
Fees for employment tribunals cost up to £1,200, but YESS will charge between £500 and £800 to resolve employment disputes before litigation.
Palmer believes the charity is the first of its kind, as it will focus on providing advice to resolve disputes rather than litigating or mediating.
She said the charity will be wholly funded by charges to employees, but rates will vary depending on an individual’s income and costs will be cross-subsidised.
Palmer told HR magazine costs would cover “reading documents, meeting with the employee, giving them a detailed letter of advice and a few phone calls".
“Often employees want to know if they have any employment rights and how best to negotiate what they want,” she continued.
“The second stage may be us negotiating with the employer, or it may be us advising in the background with the employer talking directly to the employer.
“If there was a long negotiation afterwards, we’d have to face that separately,” she added.
Palmer said litigation was “expensive, stressful, time consuming and winning often does not achieve what the employee wants”.
“Negotiation can provide a desired outcome not available in the tribunal,” she continued.
“Finding solutions at an early stage saves time, stress and money – a win-win for both sides. Most people do not want to sue and would rather resolve matters.”
Palmer has practiced employment law for 20 years and won a high profile age-discrimination case against the BBC brought by former Countryfile presenter Miriam O’Reilly.
"I can't thank Camilla enough for her expert advice which was instrumental in winning my case," O'Reilly said. "I always say to the many women who contact me for help and support to try to resolve their grievance with their employer, as going to a tribunal can be a traumatic experience."
The organisation will be based in London and will offer services nationally through a team of experienced solicitors.