Our team advises both corporate and public sector employers on all aspects of employment law.
We understand that each client's business operates differently and we ensure that this is reflected in employment agreements, particularly for matters such as confidential information and post-employment restraints.
We draft employment contracts for a wide range of commercial and government employers and we work with our clients to gain an understanding of their businesses and identify areas that require protection through an employment contract.
We also advise employers on how to deal with the interaction between contracts of employment and the minimum standards set out in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), including in relation to the complex area of modern awards.
Our team regularly advises employers on strategies and possible action to be taken against employees and former employees for breaches of their obligations in protecting their employer's confidential information and intellectual property. This includes seeking urgent interlocutory injunctions and, in serious cases, search orders (formerly known as "Anton Piller" orders).
It is becoming increasingly common for employers to use post-employment restraints to prevent their former employees from immediately starting work with a competitor.
Post-employment restraints generally include obligations on employees not to:
- work for a competitor of their former employer
- solicit or poach clients of their former employer
- solicit or poach employees or suppliers of their former employer
We act for employers who wish to enforce post-employment restraints and for employers whose new employees are subject to such restraints.
Restraints of trade often result in litigation being brought on at short notice and we have the resources and expertise to successfully deal with all aspects of these proceedings.
The introduction of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) has significantly broadened the application of unfair dismissal laws.
We advise employers on how to ensure that a termination of employment is both for a valid reason and procedurally fair. We also provide advice on disputes arising from the termination of employment, such as claims of unlawful termination and wrongful dismissal. These complaints can be conducted in a range of different courts and our team regularly acts for clients in each of these jurisdictions.
We appear on behalf of employers at conciliation conferences conducted by Fair Work Australia. While most unfair dismissal applications settle at this stage, some proceed to a formal hearing and our team is highly experienced in defending these claims.
Workplace defamation is emerging as a new trend in employment law and employers need to be cautious when making comments (both publically and within the business) about the reasons for an employee's departure.
We advise employers in relation to comments that they wish to make publicly (externally and internally) about employees, particularly in circumstances where the employee's employment was terminated in less than amicable circumstances.
The increased use of social media, such as facebook and twitter, has also seen an increase in instances of employees making derogatory, and in some cases defamatory, comments about other employees or businesses. We advise employers on the steps they can take to discipline an employee who has made unfavourable comments concerning the company on a social networking site.
Our team has significant experience in conducting workplace investigations, often of a highly sensitive nature, in both the private and the public sector. We work closely with our clients in these matters to ensure outcomes are achieved quickly and discreetly.
We have a detailed understanding of the typical claims arising in workplaces, across all areas of employee misconduct, discrimination and employee grievances, including:
- Workplace bullying and harassment
- Occupational assault
- Employee fraud and other corrupt conduct
- Sexual harassment
- Inappropriate internet and email use
- Policy breaches
Poor handling of investigations, mediations and other internal reviews can have serious implications in disputes and legal proceedings. Our team has the experience to ensure that any internal review process is undertaken to the highest standard possible.
A number of senior members of our team are either accredited mediators or have undertaken comprehensive mediation training conducted by LEADR and other ADR training bodies.
There is a long tradition of using conciliation to resolve industrial relations and discrimination disputes in Australia, and forms of mediation or conciliation are now used throughout the dispute resolution systems of the Commonwealth, States and Territories.
The philosophy which underpins ADR is that more than 90% of disputes settle without the need for decisions by courts and tribunals. The aim of ADR is to settle these disputes earlier and better in order to avoid unnecessary legal costs and to produce settlements which are win-win, rather than win-lose.
In our experience, mediation and conciliation deliver good results for our clients – outcomes which are the result of the client's own decision making and compatible with their business objectives and interests. Our team's experience in this area is useful to our clients in two main ways: we can conduct mediations for disputing parties (provided there is no conflict of interest) and we can guide our clients in a practical and helpful way through ADR processes conducted by others.
If used appropriately, mediation will almost always deliver outcomes which are cost-effective, creative and pragmatic. Throughout the process,clients remain in control of both the issues and the outcomes. A further benefit of mediation is that it often protects and preserves valuable commercial relationships – something which rarely flows from litigation.
In accordance with recent judicial statements both in Australia and overseas, we routinely consider mediation as a dispute resolution option for our clients.
We prepare and advise on the full range of workplace policies and procedures. These include policies in relation to:
- EEO and anti discrimination;
- sexual harassment and workplace bullying;
- requirements for all forms of leave, including parental, annual, personal and compassionate;
- flexible work arrangements;
- Internet and email (including social networking)
- We regularly advise employers on how best to introduce new policies into the workplace and how to deal with the relationship between workplace policies and contracts of employment.