Employment law advice

NUS have negotiated a discounted employment legal service through DWF as part of the charities preferred supplier list.

DWF offer support on either a pay as you go basis or through a range of retainer support packages.

Full details about DWF, their range of services and the costs are set out below and on the Preferred Supplier listings section of the website. 

About DWF

Getting to grips with HR issues and how they impact upon you and your members has never been more important.  In the current environment, employers are facing the perfect storm of challenging economic conditions and rapidly evolving legislation, coupled with the rising expectations and demands of employees, make it essential that the best possible guidance and support is immediately available. From the everyday to the more unusual, the team of specialists here are able to guide employers through the ever changing legal landscape.

As a preferred supplier of NUS we provide NUS members with HR and Legal advice, guidance and support in all areas of employment related matters including:

  • Terms and conditions of employment
  • HR Policies and procedures
  • Data Protection
  • Immigration
  • Performance management
  • Grievance and disciplinary
  • Investigation and Mediation
  • TUPE
  • Redundancy
  • Dismissal
  • Compromise Agreements
  • Discrimination
  • Equality and Diversity
  • Tribunal Claims
  • General Commercial legal issues

Who we are

DWF is a full service law firm with a tradition of high standards and strong client relationships.  Our focus is on delivering innovative, real and value-for-money solutions to you based on astute and practical legal advice.

DWF has an expert understanding of employment law and its team of specialist employment law solicitors and qualified HR professionals based in England and Scotland will help resolve any employment-related issues. With real strength, depth and a reputation for innovation and clear thinking, the DWF employment law team prides itself on providing hands-on, practical and realistic advice - leaving employers to get on with managing their business.

We have offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Preston and Teesside which enables us to provide the support you need, regardless of your location.

Retainer options and fees

The cost of the retainer option is based upon the number of full-time equivalent employees and expected level of usage. Members are free to opt for a higher or lower Band if their expected level of usage is anticipated to be higher or lower.  In addition, members can switch between bands during the retainer by providing 1 month’s calendar notice.

Entry level                                = £150 plus VAT per month.
This provides for an expected level of up to 2 hours per month employment and HR help and support by telephone and e mail (including 30 minutes per month free).

Band 1 – up to 50 FTE              = £350 + VAT per month
(or £3,780 + VAT per year with discount)
This provides for an expected average usage of up to 4 hours per month employment and HR help and support by telephone and email (including 1 hour per month free).

Band 2 – 51 up to 120 FTE        = £750 + VAT per month
(or £8,100 + VAT per year with discount)
This provides for an expected average usage of up to 8 hours per month employment and HR help and support by telephone and email (including 1.5 hours per month free).

Band 3 – 121 plus FTE              = £1250 + VAT per month
(or £13,500 + VAT per year with discount)
This provides for an expected average usage of up to 13 hours employment per month and HR help and support by telephone and email (including 1.5 hours per month free).

Band 4 – ‘Pay as you go’          = £150 + VAT per hour
This provides for a single flat rate of £150 per hour with no limit on the amount of usage.

The retainers are for a minimum period of 6 months and are based on expected average usage.  It is anticipated that actual usage would vary from month to month.  In the event that the expected average usage regularly exceeded the hourly limit by 25% or more we would discuss with the member concerned and could either agree to switch to a higher band going forward or that the balance could be charged on the special ‘Pay as you go’ rate.

The cost would be paid monthly.  Alternatively we would offer an additional discount of 10% where a full 12 months of the retainer is paid in advance.

3 Month Trial Period
For any of the 3 retainer options we would offer a special 3 month ‘trial period’ option.  The first 3 months of the retainer would be charged at a special 50% discount.  If the member wishes to cancel at anytime before the expiry of the 3 month trial period then they can do so.

What is included?

The retainer is specifically designed to cover the vast majority of all general Employment Law, Employment Relations, Business Immigration and HR advice (including associated pension, health and safety and tax matters). In particular the retainer includes:

  • Employment Law Helpline;
  • Drafting/Reviewing of Contracts and Policy Documents;
  • Drafting and negotiating ‘basic level’ compromise agreements;
  • Annual half day session – which can be used a strategy day or training session.

In addition members can use any 'credit' they may have on the retainer for any other legal matter they may wish to discuss, e.g. any general commercial matter.

What is not included?

The only items not included in the retainer are senior level compromise agreements Employment Tribunals and/or special one-off projects (such as large scale TUPE transfers, redundancy exercises, changes to terms and conditions etc.). 

  • Value Employment Tribunals – typical cost (including representation) at a 1 day hearing would be £5,000 plus VAT;
  • Senior Level Compromise Agreements - £1,250 plus VAT;
  • Additional training sessions – £1,250 for a half day and £2,500 for a full day (inclusive of all materials).

Costs for complex Employment Tribunals (eg. involving class action or high legal or reputational risk) or special one-off projects would be agreed in advance (based on our special rates for NUS members which include a 25% discount off our standard rates).

Added value

We offer a range of additional items to all NUS members instructing DWF for employment law services (whether on a retainer or pay as you go basis).  These are provided free or at discounted rates.

  • Initial review of all employment contracts/policies/handbook (up to 50 pages) – Free
  • Regular Newsletter and Legal Updates – Free
  • Invites to regular conferences and Webinars – Free
  • ‘Mini’ Data Protection Audit – fixed fee £750 + VAT
  • Review of commercial terms and conditions of business – Special NUS rates
  • Work ‘shadowing places’ (up to 5 per year reserved for NUS members) for in house Legal/HR to work from our offices and shadow our lawyers – Free
  • Work Placement Scheme (up to 5 per year reserved for NUS members) for students to work from our offices and shadow our lawyers – Free
  • Family Law Service –telephone helpline service available to NUS members’ employees – Free for first half hour
  • Employee benefits – access to DWF’s Employment, Litigation and Commercial Legal Services for NUS members’ employees for their own private matters (provided no conflict exists) -  Special NUS rates
  • Advising Students on Academic Appeals (provided no conflict exists) - Special NUS rates

Billing Procedure
For each retainer agreement the NUS member will receive a formal letter of engagement for signature and return
We will invoice the cost of your retainer at the end of each calendar month
Our invoices are payable on presentation unless otherwise agreed.  If our invoice becomes overdue, then we reserve the right not to carry out work under your retainer.
All costs information provided excludes VAT unless expressly stated otherwise.

NUSCS Contribution arrangements
Upon receipt of payment of each invoice in respect of both retainer and non-retainer work DWF will deduct 10% + VAT of the fee paid and pay such sum to the NUSCS.  The sum reflects a contribution toward the costs of the NUSCS providing access to services for the benefit of its members.

Non-retainer options and fees

Where DWF are instructed to provide general commercial services which fall outside the retainer arrangements these services will be subject to a separate letter of engagement and fees will be charged at either:

  • an agreed Fixed or Flat rate fee (the lawyer and the client would establish a fixed fee for the lawyer to complete a specific piece of work)  OR
  • On an hourly rate basis at NUSCS special discounted rates as set out below:

 Discounted hourly rates for NUS Members

  • Partner:  £225  (normally £300)
  • Director:  £206.25  (normally £275)
  • Solicitor:  £112.5 to £257.5  (normally £150 to £210) 
  • HR Specialist:  £112.5  (normally £150)

Note: VAT at 20% will be added to these costs.

Compromise agreements – *Standard fixed fee for general employees typically £500 plus VAT.
For senior employees (eg managers and above) typical fee £1,250 plus VAT.
*If senior employee is subject to complex restrictive covenants the fee would be agreed on a “one off” basis.

Employment Tribunals – costs for defending a Tribunal claim would be agreed in advance however typical fees for a 1 day unfair dismissal hearing would be £5,000 plus VAT


  • NUS 1 free half day per annum
  • NUS Members signed up to using DWF’s Employment Services 1 free half day training per annum
  • Additional training days would typically be charged at £1,250 (inclusive of materials) for a half day and £2,500 (inclusive of materials) for a full day

Our fee rates are based on a monthly billing pattern.  We will report to you monthly with regard to the work undertaken during the course of that month – and agree invoices with you before they are submitted.


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Our pensions team have extensive experience advising employers and trustees across the Higher Education sector and working with all stakeholders to achieve a smooth and successful relationship between the Schemes and the Unions which participate in them.

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