Government Employment

We have significant experience acting for Commonwealth and state government departments, agencies, GBEs and statutory authorities in employment and industrial relations matters.
We advise on the ever changing workplace relations laws, and the complex and challenging issues associated with consistencies with IR policy and bargaining frameworks under which government agencies work. We have acted for unionised agencies and agencies with low union membership, agencies going through significant change, and agencies with points of IR vulnerability. We have acted for some agencies for 20 years, to provide efficient and cost-effective legal services ranging from high level advice on a confined issue to a major litigation or industrial disputes which are critical to the government and may be highly political or sensitive.

Our team has a played an important advisory and advocacy role in several of Australia's most high profile and significant industrial negotiations and disputes. We have in depth experience in the negotiation of public sector agreements and managing union responses during negotiations. Our advice has included bargaining strategies (including good faith bargaining requirements and dealing with multiple bargaining representatives including non-union representatives), managing, preventing and stopping industrial action and picketing, ensuring that enterprise agreements support the strategic direction of the agency, compliance with the Fair Work Act and the policy requirements of the Australian Government Employment Bargaining Framework and State Government IR frameworks.

Our lawyers assist with strategic and day-to-day advice on employment and policy implications arising under public service policies, legislative frameworks and enterprise agreements. We have a strong track record in advising agencies on breaches of Codes of Conduct, personnel management, disciplinary matters, employment, remuneration, performance, termination of employment, disagreements and grievances, interpretation, investigations, whistleblowing, privacy, unreasonably persistent complainants and querulants, discrimination law and defending against adverse action/freedom of association claims.

We have also advised on departments, agencies, GBEs and statutory authorities about the HR & IR implications of restructuring, including consultation obligations, offers of suitable alternative employment, transfer of business and redundancy pay obligations. As a leading discrimination law practice, we regularly provide services to the government in all aspects of discrimination and equal opportunity law, including in relation to employment, the provision of goods and services, and access to premises and public transport. We adopt a proactive approach to avoid discrimination complaints, by ensuring that policies, procedures and training comply with legislation and industry best practice.

We advise on Work Health and Safety (WHS) issues particularly around workplace injury and continued tenure, and work health and safety legislation so far as compliance, breach and investigation. The significant personal liability that exists means due diligence obligations, training, and contract management are regulatory aspects about which many departments and agencies have obtained advice from us. We pride ourselves on adopting a pro-active approach to WHS by identifying relevant changes in legislation, trends and emerging areas, and developing relevant training programs and management systems.

We are cognisant of the sensitive environment in which Government employers operate, where not only legal and industrial relations risks need to be assessed and managed, but also policy imperatives and the broader strategic direction of the respective government needs to be understood. The quality of our practice and our lawyers is demonstrated by the calibre of our public sector clients with whom we have genuine long standing relationships.

Sydney Ferries Market Review Project

Acted for the NSW Department of Transport & Infrastructure in the Sydney Ferries Market Review project. This was a high profile and politically sensitive project to implement the recommendations of the Walker report into the operation of Sydney Ferries.

New South Wales Interstate Rail Network Restructure

Advised NSW Government in relation to a major restructure of the State's non-metropolitan rail system which included an investment of A$800 million+ in rail infrastructure by the Commonwealth Government. The arrangements effectively incorporated 3000kms of NSW interstate and Hunter Valley mainline railway track under the same operation and management as the interstate standard gauge mainline railway track. We also subsequently advised on commercial arrangements in relation to the take up by ARTC of the Metropolitan Freight Network and the Southern Sydney Freight Line.