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Workplace Relations & Safety

Our specialist team has extensive experience acting for employers in both the public and private sector and across a range of industries.

Workplace Relations & Safety

We understand the legal risks associated with human resource management. We focus on preventative measures and deliver training workshops and support designed to keep our clients out of disputes.

Expertise

We balance the technical aspects of employment and industrial relations law with a focus on addressing what can often be complex business issues facing our clients. As part of our approach, we look to understand the business imperatives behind our clients’ workplace strategies and to structure our advice in the context of these imperatives.

If a workplace dispute arises for a client, we offer alternative resolution processes. If litigation is necessary, we use our specialist knowledge of the relevant law, workplace disputes and courts and tribunals to develop a legal process that will best achieve success for the client.

Board & Executive

Our experienced workplace relations lawyers assist clients with all issues relating to senior executives and board members in respect of employment and safety issues.

Legal expertise:

  • developing relevant terms and conditions for senior executives
  • managing disputes relating to terms & conditions of engagement
  • advising on executive remuneration including share option plans, profit sharing and other incentive schemes
  • enforcement of restraints and protection of confidential information
  • advising on business visas
  • advising on performance management
  • developing strategy for the transfer of executive teams from competitors
  • advising on termination benefits
  • advising on due diligence obligations for Board members and officers of the business.

Corporate transactions

In any merger, acquisition, sale of business, in-sourcing, out-sourcing or restructure arrangement there are critical employment and industrial issues which can affect the success of the project. Our expert workplace relations lawyers assist and advise on these issues to ensure our clients' interests are best protected.

Legal expertise:

  • due diligence on employment and safety issues
  • developing effective strategies for retaining key employees and managing redundancies
  • providing industrial relations advice and strategies including the termination of industrial instruments following a transfer of business
  • advising on transactional agreements relating to employees including restraints, warranties and indemnities.

Our experience:

  • advising a national natural gas infrastructure organisation on employment and industrial issues relating to the acquisition of a gas network distributor
  • advising a national producer and processor of raw leather on employment and industrial issues in relation to the acquisition of a hide tannery business
  • advising a subsidiary of a national bank on employment issues during the disposal of a series of regional radio broadcasting stations
  • advising a major insurer on employment issues arising from the acquisition and aggregation of a number of businesses
  • advising a national logistics business on the Transfer of Business provisions under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) relating to labour hire issues
  • providing employment advice to an international television broadcaster in relation to the transmission and acquisition of a business.

Employment law

Our specialist Workplace Relations Group has extensive experience acting for employers in both the public and private sector and across a range of industries. We understand the legal risks associated with human resource management.

We offer our clients:

  • practical, accessible, responsive and effective advice
  • an emphasis on identifying and devising strategies to best meet our their objectives
  • a focus on preventative measures and dispute resolution rather than litigation.

Legal expertise:

  • drafting employment contracts, workplace policies and other guidelines
  • advising and acting on the implementation of industrial strategies, including implementation of workplace agreements
  • advising on disciplinary processes and workplace investigations
  • advising on termination of employment issues and procedures, including, for senior executives, in respect of options, bonus entitlements, directorships and public announcements
  • defending unfair dismissal and wrongful termination proceedings
  • advising on the implementation of and acting in proceedings concerning the enforcement of confidentiality and non-compete provisions
  • advising employers in respect of unlawful discrimination, unlawful termination, harassment and bullying complaints and acting in proceedings in respect of these complaints
  • advising in respect of transmission of business issues
  • advising employers in respect of employer sponsored migration (457 visa scheme) including application for approval as a standard business sponsor, visa applications and advising on employer compliance issues.

Our experience:

  • drafting employment agreements, implementing remuneration strategies for senior executives and advising on relevant Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) issues for a national natural gas infrastructure organisation
  • drafting various employment documents for a national business including template Executive Services Agreement together with “shadow” equity structures
  • drafting standard employment contracts, dealing with industry standards and award entitlements for a national radio network
  • defending unfair dismissal proceedings for a national postal organisation and responding to sexual harassment and sex discrimination complaints in the Australian Human Rights Commission
  • advising a peak film body on the negotiation of an enterprise agreement including advising on the requirements of the Commonwealth Government and liaising with DEEWR regarding the Bargaining Framework
  • undertaking investigations into bullying complaints and defending proceedings alleging disability discrimination for a statutory agency
  • advising a national outdoor advertising organisation on a suspected breach of restraints of trade and confidentiality obligations by former employees.

Industrial relations

Our specialist Workplace Relations Group has extensive experience acting for employers in both the public and private sector and across a range of industries. We understand the legal risks associated with industrial relations. We understand that the rules governing collective bargaining have become more complex and at the same time the issues that employers need to address have become more varied.

We offer our clients:

  • practical, accessible, responsive and effective advice
  • an emphasis on identifying and devising strategies to best meet our their objectives
  • a focus on preventative measures and dispute resolution rather than litigation.

Legal expertise:

  • advising on the process of collective bargaining, including the various legal options available to employers during the course of the bargaining process
  • providing strategic advice to clients when industrial issues arise
  • advising on applicable industrial instruments that apply to the workplace
  • acting on behalf of clients involved in Fair Work Building & Construction investigations.

Our experience:

  • advising an Australian subsidiary of an international optical media manufacturer on the terms of proposed enterprise agreements as well as the agreement making process
  • working with a national natural gas infrastructure organisation to consolidate a number of collective agreements as a result of a series of acquisitions
  • advising a peak film body on the negotiation of an enterprise agreement including advising on the requirements of the Commonwealth Government and liaising with DEEWR regarding the Bargaining Framework
  • advising an Australian subsidiary of an international material handling business on the negotiation of an employee collective agreement
  • advice a government owned corporation regarding compliance with and interpretation of applicable award
  • advising a film production company in relation to bargaining notices and obligations.

EEO, discrimination and diversity

We advise employers in respect of complaints of unlawful discrimination and act in defending proceedings in this regard. We also advise employers on governance structures to adopt in order to address these matters as well as how best to investigate and deal with complaints or issues as they arise.

Legal expertise:

  • drafting workplace policies and other guidelines
  • advising on disciplinary processes and workplace investigations
  • advising on termination of employment issues and procedures
  • defending unlawful termination, General Protections and wrongful termination proceedings
  • advising employers in respect of unlawful discrimination, harassment and bullying complaints and acting in proceedings in respect of these complaints.

Our experience:

  • advising an international television broadcaster on the implementation of investigation protocols and processes
  • defending unfair dismissal proceedings for a national postal organisation and responding to sexual harassment and sex discrimination complaints in the Australian Human Rights Commission
  • defending a national recruitment business from a racial discrimination/religious vilification complaint
  • defending one of Australia’s largest independent non-bank cash flow financiers regarding a sexual harassment complaint
  • undertaking investigations into bullying complaints and defending proceedings alleging disability discrimination for a statutory agency
  • defending Australia’s largest shopping centre owner regarding adverse action claims and advising on investigations
  • acting for a Sydney radio station in General Protections proceedings where an injunction was sought against our client to prevent the dismissal of an announcer on the alleged grounds of political opinion. After a number of interlocutory hearings the matter was resolved before a final hearing.

Managing ill and injured workers

Businesses face significant risks in the management of ill or injured workers. Our workplace relations lawyers are able to assist you in reducing these risks while at the same time ensuring you can achieve a productive and engaged workforce.

Legal expertise:

  • advising on return to work including suitable duties
  • advising on termination of employment and defending any associated employment claims 
  • preparing documentation including requests for independent medical assessments
  • advising on disciplinary processes and workplace investigations
  • advising on termination of employment issues and procedures relating to injured or ill workers
  • defending unlawful termination, General Protections and wrongful termination proceedings relating to injured or ill workers.

Our experience:

  • advising a national leather processing business on return to work obligations for a seriously injured employee
  • defending unfair dismissal proceedings for a national postal organisation
  • advising a Sydney food producer on the graduated return to work obligations for an injured driver
  • advising an actuarial business regarding the termination of employment of a long-term employee suffering mental illness
  • undertaking investigations into bullying complaints and defending proceedings alleging disability discrimination for a statutory agency.

Privacy

Employers need to be aware of the privacy protections that apply to monitoring and surveillance in the workplace and the importance of policies and procedures in this area. Our specialist Workplace Relations Group has significant experience advising employers on a range of privacy issues. 

Legal expertise:

  • drafting workplace guidelines relating to monitoring and surveillance of computers, telecommunications, vehicles and the workplace
  • advising on workplace investigations and the use of surveillance
  • advising on the implementation of policies involving privacy issues including Social Media policies and Computer Use policies
  • advising on investigations and disciplinary processes which involve access to personal information
  • advising on corporate transactions which involve access by third parties to employee and contractor records, for example in a due diligence
  • advising on pre-litigation investigations involving surveillance of former employees or obtaining telecommunication records.

Our experience:

  • advising a national advertising organisation on the surveillance of a former employee
  • drafting various policies for a national business consistent with workplace surveillance laws in a number of jurisdictions
  • drafting policies for a national radio network regarding Social Media and Computer Use
  • advising a national infrastructure business about its obligations to disclose personal information of employees during a due diligence
  • working with forensic investigators to obtain admissible evidence for litigated claims against former employees or business competitors.

Migration

Skilled work force shortages present one of the most critical challenges to Australia. Businesses operating in Australia (or seeking to operate in Australia) increasingly rely on international recruitment to meet their workforce needs.

Holding Redlich advises companies on all aspects of international recruitment, including the implications for human resources and risk management strategies.

Our expertise includes:

  • establishing business sponsorship arrangements (including advising on sponsorship obligations and undertakings)
  • compliance issues, sponsorship monitoring, audits and site investigations by Department officers
  • verifying work rights and entitlements of various visa holders;
  • preparing employment contracts that are compliant with Immigration Law and advising on special termination procedures for temporary visa holders
  • negotiating Labour Agreements and Enterprise Migration Agreements.

Protection of business interests

A key to the success of any business is the protection of its valuable confidential information and customer connections. We advise clients in respect of the implementation of measures to protect confidential information and restraints of trade as well as act in their enforcement.

We offer our clients:

  • practical, accessible, responsive and effective advice
  • an emphasis on identifying and devising strategies to best meet our their objectives
  • a focus on preventative measures and dispute resolution rather than litigation.

Legal expertise:

  • drafting employment contracts, workplace policies and other guidelines to best protect the businesses commercial interests
  • advising on workplace investigations related to the misuse of confidential information
  • advising on termination of employment issues and procedures in respect of the misuse of confidential information
  • advising on the implementation of and acting in proceedings concerning the enforcement of confidentiality and non-compete provisions.

Our experience:

  • advising an international accounting firm on the enforcement of restraints of trade and the effect of restraints of trade that may apply to prospective partners
  • advising in respect of the movement of teams to competitors in the banking and finance industry
  • advising a property management business on suspected breaches of confidentiality by former employees. Seeking preliminary discovery orders against a former employee and obtaining ex parte asset preservation orders pending the determination of the preliminary discovery application
  • advising a national outdoor advertising organisation on a suspected breach of restraints of trade and confidentiality obligations by former employees
  • acting a major drilling company on suspected breaches of confidentiality and non-compete provisions.

Workplace health and safety

Workplace Health & Safety (WH&S) impacts at all levels of the public and private sectors and all industries. We understand that it is important for the overall performance of a business and not just because of legal compliance.

Our clients regularly seek our advice and assistance in managing their obligations as well as when incidents occur.

Our WH&S team has extensive experience in advising on all aspects of workplace safety, including:

  • strategic advice on minimising exposure to workplace safety risk and liability
  • development of workplace safety management systems, policies and procedures
  • training in workplace safety
  • advice and representation in WH&S related investigations, disputes and prosecutions
  • due diligence of WH&S issues in acquisitions of property and businesses
  • advice on self-insurance and insurance premium issues.

We act for principals, developers, contractors, managers and consultants in both the public and private sectors. Our clients range from major institutions and government entities to specialist consultants and subcontractors.

FREE trial copy of the OHS Handbook
Holding Redlich partner, Michael Selinger, is editor-in-chief of the OHS Handbook - a comprehensive, alphabetically organized, easy to understand guide to Australian workplace safety law. Written in layperson terms, the OHS Handbook will help you protect your business and stay on the right side of the law.

Order your copy of the Health & Safety Handbook

Training

We deliver in-house training for representatives of our clients in all relevant areas of employment, industrial and safety law. This is a key service that we offer to minimise an employer’s legal risk. We regularly conduct training on a variety of topics and for all levels, from the boardroom to the office or “shop” floor.

The types of training we have recently conducted for specific clients include:

  • respect in the workplace training
  • introduction to the Fair Work Act 2009
  • enterprise bargaining
  • receiving complaints and conducting workplace investigations
  • key employment issues for private equity
  • director and officer liability under WHS legislation
  • managing incident responses and dealing with safety regulators
  • training in attending safety regulator interviews and the prosecution process
  • what do businesses need to know about the new WHS laws.

We will always look to tailor our training programmes to ensure they best meet the particular training objectives of our clients and regularly work in with their human resource and legal staff in developing and conducting this form of training.

Training brochures

Workplace regulators

Employers increasingly need to deal with statutory regulators in respect of employment and industrial matters. We have a broad range of experience in dealing with regulators on these matters.

Legal expertise:

  • providing strategic advice on minimising exposure to regulatory risk and liability
  • development of management systems, policies and procedures to deal with regulatory investigations
  • training in investigation response systems
  • advice and representation in regulatory investigations and litigated proceedings.

Our experience:

  • acting for clients in Fair Work Ombudsman investigations. This includes assisting and advising on responses to allegations regarding the failure to recognise a bargaining representative, allowing employees a genuine opportunity to consider the proposed agreement as well as underpayment allegations
  • advising clients in Fair Work Building & Construction investigations. This includes assisting and advising on responses to allegations regarding unlawful industrial action, strike pay, sham contracting and underpayment allegations.
  • advising clients and acting on their behalf in respect of insurance premium disputes and audits with workers compensation insurers and regulators
  • advising clients dealing with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, including acting on their behalf in business visa applications and 457 visa audits.

Workplace relations for employees

Experience

We have broad experience across a range of industries, including:

  • advising an employer in the resources sector on available industrial strategies, including the implementation of workplace agreements
  • acting for an employer in the logistics industry in a range of matters, including in unfair dismissal proceedings and unlawful discrimination complaints and investigations
  • acting for an employer in media industry in dealing with a variety of employment and industrial relations matters, including engaging key talent
  • acting for an employer in the negotiation and implementation of a referral agreement to the Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales
  • acting for an employer in proceedings commenced in the Supreme Court of Queensland and concerning alleged misleading and deceptive conduct in respect of various share options
  • advising a group of companies on the implementation of nationally standardised employment contracts, policies and procedures
  • advising a private equity financier in respect of establishing a competing business and the extraction of senior executives from a major competitor, including dealing with non-compete and confidentiality obligations
  • advising a vendor in respect of employment and industrial issues arising from the divestiture of a number of businesses
  • drafting executive service agreements and advising on relevant ASX Listing Rules and Corporations Act issues
  • advising a developer in respect of industrial relations and enterprise bargaining issues arising at various redevelopment sites in Australia
  • acting for various television producers and providing advice in respect of employment and industrial relations matters relating to film and television production.

Recent Posts

21 October 2020 - Knowledge

Is a safety regulator’s enforcement notice always valid? Not if the notice was issued ‘under dictation’

#Workplace Relations & Safety

A finding by the NSW Ombudsman means organisations should carefully review any safety enforcement notices, and assess whether the notices were issued without a reasonable belief that a contravention exists or under instructions by another person.

20 October 2020 - Knowledge

Federal Court confirms broad reach of superannuation guarantees to personal service contractors

#Workplace Relations & Safety, #Superannuation, Funds Management & Financial Services

A Full Federal Court decision has confirmed that employers may be required to make superannuation contributions, even if an independent contractor is not an employee under common law.

14 October 2020 - Knowledge

Employment Law and Workplace Relations Monthly Update - September 2020

#Workplace Relations & Safety

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in court against the operator of a Brisbane café alleging breaches including that employees were partially paid in food and drink.

14 October 2020 - Knowledge

Inside track: Work Health & Safety

#Workplace Relations & Safety

Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic has been a stressful time for all Australians.

07 October 2020 - Knowledge

Dismissal by SMS or email may not be unlawful – but it’s extremely unwise

#Workplace Relations & Safety, #COVID-19

A recent Fair Work Commission ruling further highlights the risks for employers of dismissing an employee by electronic means without a face-to-face meeting.

07 October 2020 - Knowledge

Update: COVID-19 factsheet – changes at the Federal and State level

#Corporate & Commercial Law, #Workplace Relations & Safety, #COVID-19

The pandemic has caused a series of rapid regulatory changes at both the Federal and State level. We provide a Q&A on the latest updates to help you navigate the current state of play.

06 October 2020 - Knowledge

Flexibility measures extended in line with JobKeeper changes

#Workplace Relations & Safety, #COVID-19

The Fair work Commission has extended the life of award flexibility provisions designed to assist employers to deal with the impact of COVID-19 and has introduced laws to make parental leave more flexible.

30 September 2020 - Knowledge

‘Genuine redundancy’ held despite similar new role created one month later

#Workplace Relations & Safety

A Fair Work Commission decision sheds light on whether a ‘genuine redundancy’ occurs when an employer creates a new role similar to the redundant role within one month of dismissing the employee.

29 September 2020 - Knowledge

Inside track: Work Health & Safety

#Workplace Relations & Safety

To help you prepare for National Safe Work Month – Work Health and Safety through COVID-19, new work health and safety (WHS) resources have been published on the National Safe Work Month website.

29 September 2020 - Knowledge

Fair Work Commission confirms it has no power to reduce modern award derived redundancy entitlements

#Workplace Relations & Safety, #COVID-19

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses has seen the Fair Work Commission determine a number of applications to vary redundancy pay and recent decisions have confirmed its limited powers to reduce payouts.

22 September 2020 - Knowledge

Are employers liable for employees’ psychiatric injuries sustained as a result of proper performance management?

#Workplace Relations & Safety

We look at a case where an employer did not owe their employee a duty of care to prevent psychiatric injury because they took reasonable steps to manage her performance.

16 September 2020 - Knowledge

JobKeeper direction that disproportionately reduced an employee’s hours deemed unreasonable

#Workplace Relations & Safety

The Fair Work Commission has reversed an ‘unreasonable’ JobKeeper enabling stand down direction that reduced an employee’s hours disproportionately to other team members and with no prior consultation.