Legal helpline for reps

Accredited stewards and branch officers can contact UNISONdirect for urgent preliminary legal advice on employment matters.

If your call isn’t urgent then please contact your regional office as, in some circumstances, authority from the region may be required to get a referral for legal advice.

How do I use the helpline?

Your branch’s accredited stewards should talk to the branch officers to check the matter is suitable for helpline advice.

Accredited stewards and branch officers can contact UNISONdirect online, or call 0800 0 857 857. They will check that you are eligible to use the service.

UNISONdirect will then give you a pin number or password, and a national Thompsons solicitors phone number for you to call. The Thompsons call handler will take details including your branch, region and what you want advice on and will forward this to your region’s Thompsons office.

Thompsons will then ring back within two hours, take some details and provide basic advice.

Lawyers on the helpline will not be able to consider large quantities of paper but will be able to signpost you to information on the legal issues raised and give you confidence in dealing with the employer or other party.

When is the helpline open?

The helpline is open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

What matters can the legal helpline not deal with?

There are some areas of law that are either too complex to deal with in a phone call or they are of strategic importance to our members.

If you want advice on one of these subjects you should contact your regional office as usual to get a referral for legal advice.

These subjects are:

  • judicial appeals to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and Court of Session;
  • civil claims arising out of employment issues;
  • defamation;
  • equal pay;
  • European law;
  • immigration;
  • industrial action;
  • injunctions and interdicts;
  • judicial reviews;
  • matters affecting national terms and conditions, such as Single Status, Agenda for Change or other cases which clearly have national and strategic significance;
  • negligent misstatement;
  • new law – in other words legislation which has commenced within the last two years;
  • pensions;
  • the public sector equality duty;
  • public or private enquiries;
  • trade union recognition;
  • collective TUPE issues;
  • UNISON rules;
  • any other cases identified by the union as particularly strategic in line with the union’s policy and priorities.

Advice for branches

UNISON’s legal helpline is there to help branch officers and accredited stewards when they need urgent legal advice on employment issues.

If the call isn’t urgent, reps should contact their regional office as usual to get a referral for legal advice.

The helpline provides speedy and efficient preliminary advice and points you to the next steps. Cases referred to the helpline may be for individual members but it is not limited to this.

There are some areas of law that are strategically important to the union and it will not be possbile to deal with them via the helpline.

These include cases involving:

  • appeals;
  • defamation;
  • European law;
  • industrial action;
  • injunctions;
  • judicial reviews;
  • collective TUPE issues;
  • matters affecting national terms and conditions such as Single Status or Agenda for Change.

These need to be referred to regions in the normal way, to ensure the best possible legal solutions for our members. The helpline will be monitored and reviewed to make sure it is providing an effective and efficient service.