Claire Perry of emplaw online on making employment law accessible
I suppose I am what you may call an employment law evangelist. As an employment solicitor and former BBC head of employment policy and freelance legal affairs, I’ve always felt strongly about embedding an understanding of employment law among employers and workers.
I believe that because employment law is part of life for millions of workers and employees, it should be easily accessible. This is one of the key drivers for buying and re-launching emplaw online (emplaw.co.uk) – an online research site aiming to provide authoritative, independent information to lawyers, advisors, HR professionals and anyone keen to stay on top of employment law. The new and re-modelled site was launched in January 2015.
Having access to good advice and information when it comes to employment law means there is less likelihood of dispute and when disputes do arise, the parties can assess their risks and liabilities. Fewer disputes make sense as the evidence is clear that improved employer/employee relationships improve output and play a part in aiding business and the wider economy.
When I was working at the BBC, I set up monthly pan-BBC briefings to update the HR community on employment law issues. Since then, I’ve contributed to many publications - including a column in The Sun – in an effort to get employers and employees to know their rights.
Having worked in-house for many years, I have first-hand experience of the frustrations faced by HR managers and in-house lawyers. Employment law is such a broad subject covering many different topics and it’s constantly evolving. It’s very difficult to stay on top of all the changes, but having access to reliable, easy-to-find information that you need for a specific enquiry - including links to cases and government guidance - can literally save you days of work.
After 14 years at the BBC, I left my job at a time when I needed more time and flexibility in my life. As well as writing articles, I continued to work as a consultant for specialist practices such as the Ortolan Group and Employment Law in Action.
Early last year, I was approached via LinkedIn by one of the former directors of emplaw online to write for the business and then, when it went into liquidation, with a view to buying the website. My husband, Ian, and I looked into it and decided we had the right ingredients to make it work. I also run a company called Constantia Associates Ltd with Ian who is an IT consultant.
We put together a team to update and refocus the site – both from a content and technology point of view. The aim is to provide the current generation of those with an employment law interest with urgent answers to all their employment law-related questions.
We have a commitment to employment law, a real enthusiasm for the subject and Ian’s expert knowledge on the IT front means we know what the most up to date technologies and best websites can offer and what we can aspire to.
emplaw online was originally founded by city lawyer Henry Scrope in the 90s and became a highly respected daily tool for thousands of people who relied on its extensive database of comprehensive information and case summaries. In 2014, the then owners of the site went into liquidation due to dated content and technical problems.
I now oversee the new content offering, written by contributors from leading law firms and top ranked chambers. They do the research and distil the information into logical online law cards, each adding their breadth of experience. The cards are cross-referenced and contain up-to-date links to legislation and case reports including emplaw’s own archive of 1000s of case summaries.
It’s been hard work getting the site live on time. For me, the biggest thrill is knowing that we have assembled an amazing wealth of information and created a really useful tool which we’ll go on improving. I also enjoy dealing with the contributors – all of whom bring their own eclectic style and interpretation to the topics. To sum up, law is not static and needs to bring creative solutions to businesses and employees.