Have you ever got anything from a solicitor for free?
Legal firms don’t have the greatest of reputations for keeping fees down which often means that just when you need advice, for example, when you’re in danger of becoming redundant, you can’t afford to get it.
So, I was intrigued when I found out about Jodie Hill and Thrive Law, an employment law specialist, based in Leeds, who have been doing amazing things to support people during this difficult time.
While many employment law firms might have been rubbing their hands with glee during this period, Thrive Law, based in Leeds, took a very different approach. Their business ethos is so refreshing, believing that everyone should be enabled to thrive in the workplace and work with business and individuals to understand the organisation and offer the right solution in terms of employment law and well-being. So, perhaps it’s not a surprise that, at the start of lockdown, Jodie made the bold decision to offer free advice to individuals and businesses who found themselves in difficult employment situations.
A while back, I seized the opportunity to have a quick telephone call with Jodie Hall and find out more about all the remarkable work her firm of solicitors had done since March to support people who had been laid off, made redundant, put on furlough or discriminated against, during this difficult period. When we spoke, Jodie had just returned from the Legito Legal Disruptors conference in Prague, where she had given a keynote talk on mental health and technology. Jodie is also a strong advocate for mental health in the workplace and has campaigned to make mental health risk assessments mandatory in the workplace. She is a regular face on national and local media where she talks on a range of employment law issues and has won several awards and honours including a fellowship with the Royal Society for Public Health in recognition of her mental health advocacy work.
Prior to the first lockdown at the end of February 2020, Thrive Law launched a free email helpline that offered advice to both employers and employee in relation to furlough, redundancy and other related issues. Some 4,000 people and businesses were supported through this approach and Jodie dedicated the majority of Thrive Law’s legal capacity to support this initiative. Despite being a very small law firm and very much still in start-up mode, its website, www.thrivelaw.co.uk, is teaming with advice and guidance for managers and individuals alike. Articles include managing mental health in lockdown, the use of face coverings in the workplace and how to avoid accidental furlough fraud. The helpline received queries about being made to work whilst furloughed, sick pay rules, being made redundant and issues relating to working from home as well as an array of discrimination and whistleblowing enquiries. “We wanted to be able to support and guide as many individuals and businesses as we could, we knew the answers and it felt like the right thing to do when we had the skill set to make a real difference to so many”, explained Jodie who continued to pay all her staff during lockdown 1.0 even when she couldn’t pay herself, so they could continue support the growing need for this free service.
Jodie is clearly passionate about supporting people in the workplace and being a mental health advocate. As we come to the end of the second period of lockdown, the impact on job security and mental health will only grow. Many of the individuals that it impacts are extremely vulnerable. Hence, the support and advice that Thrive Law has offered over this period has been a welcome lifeline to many and continues to remain open as we climb out of the second lockdown and into the new tiers.
If a firm of solicitors can make such an impact, what could your business do to support people in need?