Mel Martin has been with the YWRC for nearly seven years, and has seen a whole lot of workplace mistreatment.

Something that really riles me up is when its made difficult for some people to access basic human rights, knowledge and information.

Having access to employment is a basic human right.

I consider having access to information that provide you access to fair and reasonable employment is also a basic human right.

For this reason, the Young Workers Resource Centre (YWRC) does not charge for giving advice, or meeting with young workers having issues. Nor do we charge any kind of fee should we go to bat for you in mediation, that ends in a monetary settlement.

I’ve come across some organisations that call themselves employee advocates that agree to provide advice and employment support on a “no win, no fee” basis.

This means that if these organisations go to bat for you in mediation ending in a monetary settlement, they will charge you a fee for having helped you win the case. This is usually worked out as a percentage of the awarded amount.

In short, these employment advocacy services are cashing in on the pain and suffering of people struggling to have their voice hear in the context of their workplace.

From what I can tell, and in my professional opinion, it appears that the process of being ordered to mediation by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) is the opportunity these employment advocacy agencies wait for.

When a complaint is filed with the ERA, it orders all parties in the employment relationship to attend mediation. It provides a paid, professional mediator, and venue; as well as an opportunity to make quick and substantial amounts of money.

This is the part that gets my blood boiling.

The compensation received and/or agreed upon in mediation is supposed to go in full to the disgruntled employee. Client or complainant, if you will.

Settlements aren’t awarded so that the complainant can then give 20% of it to someone who did a little talking in a mediation meeting…

I recently engaged in a short online discussion with the owner/manager of one of these employment advocacy agencies after seeing that they charge a fee upon mediation settlement.

I asked simply “do you charge for your services?” To which the lady responded “no.”

The employee rights organisation’s website outlined that there would be charges upon settlement, and so I found her response misleading.

To clarify, I told her exactly that.

Her response was “If we get you a financial settlement you are agreeable to, in that instance yes we will charge our fee, because then the fee is coming from funds our client didn’t already have… In the meantime, our advice is still FREE.”

I mean, if the organisations practises are so ethical, maybe she could have just openly said that in the first place?

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