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Employment

Employers, from global organisations and Australia's leading corporations and government entities, to those with smaller personnel numbers, are faced with the same challenge of attracting, retaining and optimising their workforces.

Our team advises on the full spectrum of issues that may arise, including 'day-to-day' employee matters such as contracts, policies, and remuneration; periodic issues such as enterprise bargaining, restructures and outsourcings, reviewing safety systems, and visas; and we are able assist when unexpected concerns surface including with dismissals, investigations, litigation, industrial action and disputes, safety matters, and post-employment restraints. We also offer a range of training courses that can be conducted at our premises or at client sites and are tailored to our individual clients' policies and procedures.

We appreciate that each workforce is different, with its own characteristics and culture, and pride ourselves on getting to know our client's business. This allows us to provide advice that is useful, practical, commercial and easily implemented. And, by leveraging this experience, we can deliver solutions that are efficient, innovative and cost effective.

  • Employment
  • Workplace investigations
  • Industrial relations
  • Safety
  • Migration
  • Remuneration governance
Employment

We work with HR professionals, internal counsel, executives and line managers to mitigate risk at all stages of the employment relationship – from beginning to end and beyond.

  • we draft and settle employment contracts, policies and remuneration plan rules
  • we provide advice – including in relation to restructures, discipline and dismissal, absent and ill employees, and issues with executives
  • we conduct investigations
  • we litigate – including unfair dismissals, adverse action complaints, breach of contract claims and post-employment restraint proceedings
  • we provide training to employees, managers and Boards on all employment compliance matters – including appropriate workplace behaviour, conducting investigations, managing ill and injured workers, performance management, WHS, restructuring and change management
  • we advise, conduct due diligences and draft and negotiate contracts in relation to the employment-related aspects of sales of businesses, outsourcings, and privatisations

 

Workplace investigations

We regularly conduct workplace investigations about whistleblower issues, bullying, discrimination, harassment, misconduct (including theft, inappropriate computer use), WHS, and other employment related issues.

Our role varies depending on the sensitivity of the issue being investigated, the seniority of the person complained about and strategically where we see the investigation heading.

  • we assist clients who wish to undertake their own investigation – ad hoc telephone support, review of allegation letters, advice on draft investigation report and outcomes and we can provide a suite of template investigation documents
  • we conduct investigations training – including provision of guidance materials
  • we can assist with the appointment and supervision of an external investigator – including preparing engagement letters, allegation letters and reviewing draft investigation reports
  • we conduct simple investigations or preliminary enquiries or can participate as a co-investigator with our client
  • we are able to undertake complex investigations, particularly those involving senior executives and highly sensitive, material issues
Industrial relations

Gaining good outcomes in industrial matters is often all about positioning and timing – making good strategic decisions at the outset and then maintaining the preferred positioning throughout. We have the experience and capability to provide a 'winning strategy' at the outset of any matter (whether a contentious dismissal with industrial implications or an industrial or bargaining dispute).

We can articulate and explain our strategy, and ensure the business leaders who are responsible for execution understand and support the strategy, and have the capability and the tools to do what they need to do to deliver. This is critical to achieving industrial objectives.

Although we work extensively with Counsel in all States, and have good working relationships with the best in the country, we are also able to provide a complete 'strategy to advocacy' service at all levels, from the Fair Work Commission to the Federal Court if required.

  • we represent employers in industrial disputes – including appearing before the Fair Work Commission on dispute notifications and seeking orders against industrial action
  • we advise and represent employers in enterprise bargaining – including in relation to negotiations and associated issues of good faith bargaining, in drafting or settling enterprise agreements and in the approval process before the Fair Work Commission
  • we advise and represent employers in relation to workplace change and restructures
Safety

Our track record in protecting organisations and officers from exposure to legal risk has been built on our extensive experience in responding to WHS incidents, and our ability to provide industry-specific advice and practical solutions to WHS issues. From proactive advice and training to responding to WHS issues, we offer a one-stop shop for safety and wellbeing.

  • we provide support in the immediate aftermath of an incident – clients can contact us via our incident reporting app
  • we proactively manage regulatory investigations – and have a 100% success rate when working with clients to secure enforceable undertakings with regulators as an alternative to prosecution
  • we conduct litigation – including defending prosecutions, appearing in safety disputes and coronial inquests
  • we draft and settle policies, manuals, handbooks, contractor management systems and advise on Board reporting
  • we provide training to clients on incident management and work with their businesses to develop incident response frameworks

Migration

Our dedicated migration practice offers a full-service approach, from assisting clients with workforce mobilisation strategies to managing the operational aspects of visa applications and dealing with compliance issues. We are able to tap into the wider expertise of the firm, giving our clients access to holistic advice on all related aspects of their operations including tax, employment and corporate law. Refer to the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority - Code of Conduct.

For our Australian clients, we provide assistance with both one-off visa issues and also high-volume transactional work. For our overseas-based clients, we support them setting up a business in Australia.

  • we provide end-to-end strategic advice – in collaboration with our tax, employment, corporate, financial services teams, on all aspects of immigration law and the complex legal and technical issues that can arise through the employment of foreign workers
  • we prepare and lodge a wide variety of temporary and permanent visa applications – to assess eligibility and manage the entire process from start to finish
  • we advise clients on compliance-related issues – including sponsor monitoring and complex visa issues relating to character, health, breach of visa conditions and unlawful status
  • we provide an audit function to businesses – to ensure they are appropriately meeting their obligations and we provide strategies for businesses to minimise their risk
Remuneration governance

Our remuneration governance team is part of a fully-integrated, multi-disciplinary service that works with MinterEllison experts in employment, corporate and tax law.

We advise Boards and work with management to help them ensure their HR, remuneration policy and remuneration strategies are aligned with their business strategy – meeting best practice in light of governance and regulatory frameworks. We help our clients understand market remuneration levels; advise them on how to structure and deliver pay; work on communications to engage effectively with shareholders; and ensure our clients meet ‘best practice’ governance standards and regulatory requirements.

  • we design and implement remuneration strategies – pay positioning, comparator groups, pay mix policy
  • we benchmark executive and non-executive director remuneration – proprietary remuneration data across all sectors, bespoke surveys
  • we design and implement short-term and long-term incentives – vehicle selection, hurdle setting, grant valuation, performance testing, plan documentation and communication, regulatory compliance
  • we undertake performance analytics – metric reviews, goal setting
  • we advise on corporate governance and stakeholder management – regulatory compliance, facilitation with proxy advisors and investors
  • we carry out due diligence for M&A transactions and post-merger integration – impact of change of control on incentives and HR liabilities, retention cost and benchmarking

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Experience


Successfully negotiated contentious replacement enterprise agreement for AGL in Victoria that has a profound impact on productivity.


Acted for the Australian Building and Construction Commission in one of the largest prosecutions against the CFMEU in NSW.


Acted for LendLease in one of the most significant right of entry disputes in the last 20 years, involving 30 sites, and a large number of officials.


Successfully defended Energy Australia (first instance and on appeal) against adverse action case commenced by a former senior executive, clarifying the law.


Acted for Queensland University of Technology on racial discrimination matter that will clarify the scope and effect, including under the Constitution, of Australia's racial vilification laws.


Represented Commonwealth Bank in the landmark High Court decision which decided the implied term of trust and confidence was not part of Australian law.


Assisting major financial services client restrain a senior executive from joining a key competitor.


Successfully defended multi-million dollar contractual dispute and misrepresentation claim with indemnity costs awarded to our client.

 

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  • Created ground-breaking industrial strategy for global aviation client seeking to enter the Australian market, including a competitive enterprise agreement that minimises industrial risk for the client.
  • Advised Westpac in relation to its enterprise agreement negotiations, consolidating terms and conditions post St.George merger (agreement reduced from more than 1000 pages to just over 100 pages), and achieving consensus with union despite extensive changes.
  • Successful application to terminate an enterprise agreement, helping Peabody Energy reduce labour costs and increase productivity.
  • Advised and assisted a construction sector client in dealing with the WHS regulator regarding its investigation of a workplace fatality on a high profile building site.
  • Successful application to strike out complaint in relation to employee seriously injured in an underground accident.
  • Successful defence of client's right to drug test at coal mine, which has significant consequences in battle against employees working while affected by drugs (including methamphetamine).