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Employment and safety

Recognised by Chambers Global as a leading employment practice, we work with leading organisations to help them build and maintain sustainable workplaces, with the necessary workplace flexibility to meet fast changing and competitive market conditions.  By leveraging our experience, we help clients anticipate, manage and resolve workplace issues.
We invest time with our clients' human resources and legal teams to gain a working understanding of their priorities, culture, values and needs.  This allows us to tailor our approach to meet the needs of each important client.  
General employment and corporate advisory
We work with organisations to help them to anticipate, manage and resolve issues that arise during the workplace lifecycle from recruitment to termination.  Our expertise allows us to identify the important issues quickly and deliver swift, practical solutions.
Our services include:
  • drafting, reviewing and advising on employment contracts, independent contractor agreements and the full range of workplace policies
  • preparing and delivering tailored training modules for managers about the legal issues that arise during recruitment, the management of unsatisfactory performance or conduct and the termination of employees and contractors
  • sounding board advice to assist clients to manage delicate workplace issues as they arise
  • developing and documenting remuneration, bonus and incentive schemes
  • drafting and advising on restraints of trade, intellectual property and confidential information obligations
  • advising on risks arising from restructuring including redundancies
  • assisting with due diligence and the development and implementation of workplace strategies to manage risks in purchase/sale transactions and outsourcing arrangements
  • advising on the termination of employment of employees and the engagement of contractors including limits on termination benefits to officers and senior executives
  • representing organisations and their insurers in claims relating to unfair dismissal, adverse action, underpayment, breach of contract, consumer protection legislation and the enforcement of post employment obligations.

Discrimination and diversity
We help organisations to minimise discrimination, harassment and bullying in their workplaces and are committed to assisting our clients to promote diversity.  We also assist clients to manage discrimination risk in the provision of goods and services.
Our services include:
  • preparing and delivering tailored awareness and compliance training modules for boards, line managers and employees about discrimination, harassment, bullying and diversity
  • developing discrimination, harassment, bullying and diversity policies (including flexible working policies) and diversity strategies
  • advising on compliance with the proposed Workplace Gender Equality Act, ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations and discrimination and safety legislation
  • advising on and conducting investigations into complaints
  • representing clients in discrimination related litigation.
Safety
We understand there are no second chances in getting safety systems right.  We have expertise in working with organisations to develop tailored safety systems that meet their legal and commercial needs.
Our focus is on developing a partnership with organisations to manage work health and safety issues proactively.  However, we also know that even with the best of systems things can and do go wrong. When that happens, it is important that an organisation knows how to respond and does so in a timely manner.
Our services include:
  • preparing and reviewing work health and safety policies and procedures from a legal compliance and best practice perspective
  • preparing and delivering tailored information and training at board, manager and line level
  • assisting organisations to develop systems for identifying and managing risks in the workplace
  • advising on all aspects of work health and safety laws
  • representing clients in work health and safety prosecutions and coronial inquests.
We can also assist organisations in the following ways where an incident occurs:
  • providing urgent crises management advice after hours when required
  • advising about preserving the scene, setting up privilege and the processes to follow immediately after the incident
  • advising about who to notify and when
  • assisting with dealing with regulatory authorities, unions and the police including providing representation in these dealings
  • investigating the incident and assessing the pros and cons of arranging any necessary expert reports and obtaining these reports where appropriate. 
 
Enterprise bargaining
For many organisations enterprise bargaining plays an important role in achieving workplace flexibility and ensuring industrial harmony in the workplace.
We have extensive experience in enterprise bargaining and have successfully helped organisations negotiate enterprise agreements on time with positive outcomes and with a minimum of disruption. 
The key to successful enterprise bargaining is ensuring that an organisation has a well-thought-out strategy.  This includes the evaluation of bargaining options, comprehensive planning with a focus on stakeholder engagement and a practical understanding of the prescriptive legal framework in which bargaining is to take place.
We can support, assist and represent organisations throughout the enterprise bargaining process by:
  • evaluating bargaining options
  • developing bargaining protocols, processes and strategies
  • preparing and delivering tailored bargaining training modules at manager and line level
  • drafting enterprise agreements and vetting them for the 'better off overall' test and other legal requirements
  • advising on the legal framework including initiating bargaining, majority support determinations and scope orders, single interest employer authorisations, rights and responsibilities of bargaining representatives, good faith bargaining and bargaining orders, bargaining disputes, union right of entry, protected action ballots, dealing with anticipated and actual industrial action, terminating protected industrial action and workplace determinations
  • lodging enterprise agreements for approval with Fair Work Australia including liaising with and appearing before Fair Work Australia
  • advising on varying and terminating enterprise agreements.
 
Industrial relations
For some organisations, dealing with union and employee disputes is an inevitable part of doing business.
We are committed to assisting organisations to anticipate, manage and resolve issues with unions and employees both proactively, through the development of long term, pragmatic and sustainable industrial relations strategies, and reactively, when the need arises.
We have extensive experience managing industrial issues across a range of industries as lawyers, in-house specialists and industrial advocates.
We can support, assist and represent organisations in their dealings with unions and employees through:
  • advising on union demarcation and right of entry
  • advising on issues surrounding freedom of association and rights of union and non-union members
  • advising on managing employee grievances and industrial disputes, whether in the course of enterprise bargaining negotiations or outside the bargaining framework
  • advising on compliance with modern awards, enterprise agreements and legislation generally
  • advising on consultation obligations and dealing with unions and employees when a business undergoes workplace change
  • representing organisations and their insurers in proceedings before Fair Work Australia and courts relating to disputes under modern awards and enterprise agreements, right of entry disputes and industrial action.
 
Workplace investigations
Our workplace investigations services are a key component of our proactive approach to assisting organisations to build and maintain sustainable workplaces by ensuring that workplace complaints are dealt with quickly.
Our experience is that the quicker a complaint is dealt with, the more likely the outcome will be positive for the organisation and the worker.
We have extensive experience in advising on and conducting workplace investigations from the simplest to the most complex.  Our legal background ensures the required rigour is applied to the investigation process and our comprehensive knowledge of employment law means that we can advise on and conduct workplace investigations with insight into the legal framework and an organisation’s risk.
Our experience allows us to quickly identify the nature and degree of risk, the matters that actually require investigation and the most practical and cost effective way of managing complaints.
Our services include:
  • advising on the investigation process and the pros and cons of conducting investigations internally as opposed to externally
  • conducting independent and confidential investigations into workplace complaints and where necessary identifying the need for forensic investigators and managing their engagement
  • providing advice and support during investigations conducted internally, including assistance drafting or reviewing documentation
  • providing advice and recommendations based on investigation findings to assist organisations to develop a strategy to move forward and resolve complaints
  • preparing and delivering tailored training modules on conducting workplace investigations to assist human resources managers and line managers develop the skills to conduct investigations internally
  • assisting organisations to manage the aftermath of investigations and proactively manage any issues which arise in the course of investigations.
 
Workplace training
We help organisations to take a proactive, best practice approach to managing workplace issues and reducing risks through workplace training.
We are experienced in providing practical, innovative training to managers and employees on a wide range of legal and commercial issues in the workplace context.
All of our training solutions are delivered by legal practitioners experienced in dealing with workplace issues across a broad range of industries.
Our services include:
  • preparing customised training packages, which provide you with a unique opportunity to have input into the format, content and delivery of workplace training to meet the needs of your business
  • delivering ‘plain-speaking’, interactive, face-to-face training programs with a focus on applied learning through topical case studies, activities and scenarios
  • providing experienced, qualified lawyers with training experience and expert knowledge of the relevant legal issues.
We can prepare a range of training modules to meet organisations’ needs.  Our most popular modules include:
  • Appropriate Workplace Behaviour (manager and staff sessions)
  • Managing Ill and Injured Workers
  • Investigating Employee Issues
  • Safety 101
  • The Workplace Lifecycle - From Hiring to Firing
  • Enterprise Bargaining Basics – How to Get a Great Bargain
  • Dealing with Unions – the Do’s and Don’ts.
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