Pawel Zielinski
Special Counsel
I bring a range of employment legal experience to my clients with a focus on industrial disputes and strategy, including risk-focussed employment advice and industrial dispute resolution.
  • +61 7 3119 6119
  • +61 412 521 123

I have extensive experience in managing a broad scope of general law employment matters, ranging from large scale industrial disputes and collective bargaining to individual misconduct and performance management processes, as well as unfair and unlawful dismissal disputes.

My experience includes appearing before the Federal Court, Federal Circuit Court, Queensland Industrial Relations Commission and Fair Work Commission in various contested hearings as well as conciliations and conferences. I have a range of State-based employment and industrial law experience, as well as a depth of highly transferrable specialist skills obtained through my work in the Federal system.

I also have a firm interest in public policy and law reform, as well as developing the skills of junior team members, particularly by facilitating their carriage of pro bono proceedings.

Career highlights

  • Acting in the Rossato proceedings before the Full Court of the Federal Court, which clarified the common law test for whether an employee is a casual, and whether restitutionary or other equitable principles can assist employers in setting off casual loading payments made to employees who were misclassified as casuals, and who subsequently make claims for NES entitlements under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). The matter was recently subject to a successful special leave application, in which we continue to act for the Minister of Employment.
  • I have worked with Peabody Energy and Stanwell Corporation on complex and contentious industrial disputes that were triggered by structural changes brought about by whole-of-industry factors. I also assisted these employers in managing and responding to short-term industrial stoppages as well as longer term union campaigns.
  • Advising CPB, Laing O'Rourke, Lendlease and Multiplex in seeking urgent interlocutory relief in the Fair Work Commission, Federal Circuit and Federal Courts to stop threatened and ongoing industrial disruptions.
  • Managing difficult enterprise bargaining processes that have faced strong union opposition, including Wesley Mission Queensland, Moreton Bay Regional Council and Isis Central Sugar Mill.
  • I have acted in various unpaid entitlements and general protections claims for applicants. As the representative in Sponza v Coal Face Resources Pty Ltd [2015] FCCA 1140, I made submissions which were accepted as settling any ambiguity that compensation orders can be made against directors who are involved in contraventions of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) engaged in by corporate employers. Since Sponza, the Fair Work Ombudsman has increasingly sought such compensation orders (having previously taken the position that only penalty orders were available against accessories based on a statement to that effect in the explanatory memorandum to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
  • Being seconded to the MinterEllison team working on the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption. My principal focus was on case studies relating to the operations of the CFMEU in Queensland, including one that examined allegations of corrupt conduct in respect of the construction of a union official's home (which subsequently led to a conviction of the relevant union official for breaches of the secret commissions provisions of the Queensland Criminal Code).
  • I regularly volunteer at the Caxton Legal Centre employment law clinic and the work our team has undertaken in respect of matters referred to us by Caxton has led to the recovery of just over $100,000 for disadvantaged applicants.
  • In 2010, I served as the Associate to Justice Holmes of the Queensland Court of Appeal (as her Honour then was) and the position allowed me to experience a variety of different areas of practice, both at trial and appellate levels.