The charity and social business team's employment specialists provide solutions to help you manage your workforce, from advice on contracts and handbooks or on best practice and process to defending claims.

We advise on:

  • general day to day advisory work - We can provide 'helpline' advice or agree retainers for telephone and email advice on staffing issues.
  • employment status, contracts and policies - It is vital to identify employment status correctly as employment rights and potential liabilities will flow from this. We draft employment contracts, consultancy agreements for self-employed staff, casual contracts, volunteering agreements, staff handbooks, and review and draft appropriate policies.
  • maternity and parental rights - We advise on family rights including the new right to Shared Parental Leave and the pitfalls you may face as an employer.
  • performance, capability, disciplinary and grievance procedures - We advise on disciplinary and grievance procedures, performance management and sickness absence procedures. We can attend hearings in an advisory capacity or provide staff to chair meetings.
  • managing change: restructuring, redundancy and TUPE - We advise on the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 in relation to business transfers, mergers and changes of service provision. We also advise on restructuring and redundancy both large and small scale and the process to be followed in order to avoid the risk of claims.
  • employment disputes - We advise on the law and, if necessary, can negotiate with employee representatives to arrive at a mutually acceptable conclusion. Where agreement cannot be reached we advise on all pre-action steps. We regularly defend clients in the Employment Tribunal. We have expertise in defending unfair dismissal, discrimination for sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion and age and whistleblowing claims.
  • settlement agreements - We are happy to draft and negotiate settlement agreements.
  • contractual disputes - We regularly advise employers on the enforceability of their restrictive covenants and confidentiality agreements.
  • union matters - We can review and advise on re-negotiating union agreements.
  • volunteers and interns - Volunteers are the mainstay of the charitable sector. We advise on appropriate arrangements and policies regulating the relationship with voluntary workers and give advice when disputes arise.

We also advise on data protection, safeguarding and health and safety.

  • HR support - We also provide HR support whether for a one-off project or because the organisation does not have in-house HR support including:
  • HR audits
  • overseeing a change programme such as redundancy or TUPE consultation
  • independent disciplinary and grievance investigations
  • chairing disciplinary panels

Our costs

We will offer cost effective solutions to deal with your staffing issues. We will discuss your needs with you and agree the most cost effective solutions.

Our team and approach

We provide candid, practical and cost effective advice to our clients. Although we adopt a conciliatory approach wherever possible, we will defend employers robustly in the Tribunal if necessary.

We regularly deliver in-house training to organisations across the voluntary sector to update employers on changing rules and practice, and to help prevent disputes before they arise. These can be tailored for individual organisations. We regularly contribute to publications in the charity press such as Charity Finance magazine and Charity Finance Yearbook, and to People Count, a survey of HR practice in the voluntary sector.

Our clients

Our clients range from well-known national charities to highly specialised local organisations. Examples of our experience include:

  • undertaking HR due diligence in relation to the merger of two national charities providing services to blind people
  • successfully defending a higher education institution against whistleblowing claims, claims of detriment linked to union activity, unfair dismissal and sex discrimination
  • successfully defending a religious discrimination claim under the Equality Act 2010
  • advising on the restructuring of the training and development function of a large religious organisation

Employment Lawyers Association

A national membership association of over 5,000 lawyers who specialise in employment law.

National Council of Voluntary Organisations

NCVO (The National Council for Voluntary Organisations) is a registered charity, which gives voice and support to civil society. Russell-Cooke are an approved consultant of the NCVO. NCVO believes passionately in the voluntary and community sector and are the largest umbrella body for the voluntary and community sector in England with sister councils in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

International Bar Association

The International Bar Association (IBA), established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies.

Charges are usually based on hourly rates plus administrative charges and disbursements but we are flexible with regard to charging rates and will discuss with you budgets for work on a particular matter, or, where it is not entirely clear how things will develop, for the initial stages or a particular stage of a matter.  We will always provide you with an initial estimate of your likely legal costs and will update this as your requirements or the circumstances of the work change.

In circumstances where we can more or less either anticipate the work to be done or prescribe the work, we can act on a fixed or capped fee basis.

We would be pleased to discuss your requirements free of charge and tailor a costs proposal accordingly.

It is fundamental to our policy on allocating work that one of the factors we will consider is the likely cost outcome of using particular solicitors for particular pieces of work.  Whilst almost invariably a partner will be able to carry out work more quickly than a less experienced solicitor, a less experienced solicitor under appropriate supervision may be able to produce a more cost effective result.  Partner input is more likely to be appropriate and cost-effective in more complex or more specialised matters.

The London Voluntary Service Council (LVSC)

The London Voluntary Service Council (LVSC) is a strategic and independent voice for London's voluntary and community sector. They support London's 60,000 plus voluntary and community organisations to improve the lives of Londoners.


Prospectus is a specialist recruitment consultancy and recruitment advertising and design agency working exclusively with the not for profit sector. Their clients include charities, social enterprises, universities, health agencies, arts bodies, membership organisations and government departments. They work collaboratively with not for profit ‘umbrella’ organisations like NCVO and ACEVO.


ivo is a charity that promotes and enables volunteering and social action. ivo do this primarily through the use of digital technologies with their main projects being the social platform and, the UK's largest volunteering service.

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