feedback

Employment

Overview

The lawyers at Swaab are committed to ensuring that your business thrives and enjoys positive employee relationships, despite the challenges that legal red tape poses for all businesses.

We focus on getting to know our clients, developing long-term relationships as we guide them through the ever-changing legal and industrial environment. We assist employers by drafting employment contracts which minimise exposure to awards, lessen the risk of claims and emphasise clarity, flexibility and simplicity.

Our employment team has acted for both employers and employees in a broad range of industries, including mining, hospitality, retail, manufacturing, logistics, health care, aged care, finance, professional services, building and construction, as well as the not-for-profit sector and government.

We understand that advice on employment law needs to be not only accurate, specific and commercial, but also swift. Our employment lawyers have the experience to act quickly to solve your problems.
 

Expertise

  • Advice in relation to the Fair Work Act
  • Enterprise agreements, employment agreements and letters of appointment
  • Reducing workers compensation premiums
  • Terminating employees and managing employee exits
  • Restraint of trade, confidential information and privacy
  • Negotiation with WorkCover, insurers and trade unions
  • Advice on application of awards and employee statutory and award entitlements
  • Contractor agreements
  • Redundancy and restructuring
  • Managing employee underperformance
  • Managing ill or injured employees
  • Managing employee grievances and workplace disputes
  • Workplace surveillance and monitoring of internet and email use
  • Harassment and bullying matters
  • Parental leave
  • Agreement making

Experience

Workers compensation case studies

Employment law partner Warwick Ryan acted for a client with 400 employees in the hotel industry. One of the client’s employees complained of persistent dizziness following a workplace incident and subsequently was absent from work for lengthy periods over the course of a year.

As a result, the employer faced an exorbitant workers compensation premium, based on the insurer’s calculation that after a year of being unfit for work, the equivalent of six years of employee wages needed to be factored into the estimated cost of the claim.

Putting our network to use

As part of his work for this client, Warwick circumvented the slow-moving workers compensation insurer and arranged for the employee to be seen by a specialist doctor who acts for employers in return-to-work matters.

This specialist doctor communicated with the employee’s treating GP and over the objections of the worker, arranged to have the medical certificate modified so that the worker would be obliged to return to suitable duties at his place of employment.

Negotiating with the workers comp insurer

Warwick succeeded in having the employee return to work, initially for four hours per week. This became the basis for further negotiations with the workers compensation insurer, who agreed to subtract the equivalent of four years of the employee’s wages from the premium originally presented to the employer.

Huge savings for the employer

The employee eventually returned to full-time employment. The strategic advice provided by Warwick saved the employer over $200,000 in workers compensation premiums for each of the following two years.

While this was an extreme case, it is not unusual for our lawyers to help employers achieve a reduction of tens of thousands of dollars in their workers compensation premiums. Cumulatively, Swaab’s employment lawyers have saved their clients several million dollars in premiums over the last five years.


Other successes we have achieved for our clients
  • A healthcare provider had terminated a worker more than 12 months previously and the worker had not been employed since that time. By arranging for her return to work, despite her elaborate attempts to resist this process, we saved the employer more than $80,000 in workers comp premiums.
  • We managed an injured worker for a small agricultural company in rural NSW, saving the employer over $50,000 in pending workers comp premiums.
  • By convincing the workers compensation insurer to shorten a policy year at the conclusion of a high claims experience period and by splitting categories, we managed to save our client (an accommodation provider with 4 motels), 20% for the first year and ongoing savings of 15%.

Publications

Redundancy - defending claims for unfair dismissal

Circumstances will sometimes arise in a business where an employer needs to shed staff. It is in circumstances such as these, that an employer needs to ...

16 May 2017 / Richard Ottley, Partner and Simon Obee, Associate  READ MORE


 

CAN you stand down your employees?

A common question for employers is whether you and in what circumstances can they stand down an employee.

15 May 2017 / Richard Ottley, Partner and Simon Obee, Associate  READ MORE


common sense prevails in an unfair dismissal case

The Fair Work Commission has provided a victory for common sense in the maze of employment law rules and regulations.

15 May 2017 / Warwick Ryan, Partner  READ MORE


can an employer require an employee to undertake a medical examination? - update

Employers are regularly confronted with situations in which they need to obtain further medical information about injured or unwell employees who for...

12 May 2017 / Richard Ottley, Partner READ MORE


"What becomes of the broken hearted?" ... And can or should employers care anyway?

The unfortunate answer to the Motown ballad question - 'What becomes of the broken hearted?' - is they sometimes become stalkers ...

6 Apr 2017 / Warwick Ryan, Partner READ MORE


reasonable notice on termination of employment - has it a future?

Termination of a contract of employment upon reasonable notice has long been regarded as part of the employment law landscape. It bridges the gap where ...

27 Mar 2017 / Richard Ottley, Partner and Simon Obee, Associate READ MORE


how to lose a business - without lifting a finGer

The shareholders own the business, right? After all, they own the company, which pays the rent and the staff and the bills that keep the lights on and the...
22 Feb 2017 / Warwick Ryan, Partner READ MORE


THE FAIR WORK COMMISSION - HAS IT LOST ITS WAY?

There is no mystery as to what lies at the heart of healthy staff/management relationships in a business – the key is trust! So, what happens to ...

13 Feb 2017 / Warwick Ryan, Partner READ MORE


cALculating redundancy payments - does prior service as a casual count?

Australian law has for a long time recognised the concept of "casual" employment. It is generally understood that casual employees are engaged on an "as...
17 Jan 2017/ Richard Ottley, Partner and Simon Obee, Solicitor READ MORE


trust me - i'm your employer

Coming into this festive season, we tend to reflect on the year that was and what matters most in our lives. For many of us, this will be nurturing healthy...
13 Dec 2016 / Warwick Ryan, Partner READ MORE


the hunger games have arrived: HR are now the hunted!

The company structure was designed to encourage entrepreneurship and economic growth, but unfortunately it is being attacked systematically by very complex...
7 Sep 2016 / Warwick Ryan, Partner READ MORE


do we have to do what we are paid to do?

So does this authorative master/servant relationship still have a place in the modern workplace? Or can the modern worker pick and choose the duties they...
10 Aug 2016 / Warwick Ryan, Partner READ MORE


minimising employer redundancy obligations

A provision exists in the Fair Work Act, which enables employers to apply to the Fair Work Commission to minimise their redundancy obligations to staff... 
28 Jul 2016 / Simon Obee, Associate and Richard Ottley, Partner READ MORE


employment law changes from 1 july 2016

It is a constant challenge for employers to remain up-to-date with changes in the dynamic environment of employment law. This article looks at a number of...
8 Jul 2016 / Simon Obee, Associate and Richard Ottley, Partner READ MORE


The complexity of employment law in australia has no future in the 'future'

Australia needs to entirely re-think how we regulate the employer/ employee relationship in this country - not to undermine worker's rights - but to ensure ...
22 Jun 2016 / Warwick Ryan, Partner READ MORE


The perils of misleading your prospective employees

There are few court decisions which deal with damages claims by employees lured into new employment by prospective employers' assurances, and who suffer ...

18 May 2016 / Richard Ottley, Partner read more
Proceedings under the Fair Work Act – Is the Fair Work Commission really a cost free jurisdiction?

Common questions asked by parties in unfair dismissal claims are "will I get my costs back if I win?" and "will I have to pay the other side's costs if I ...

18 May 2016 / Richard Ottley, Partner and Simon Obee, Solicitor read more
The future and HR - the other side of the worm-hole

Recently, we hosted a seminar on the Future of HR and heard from two experts in the field about their experience and thoughts on the rapidly transforming ...

17 May 2016 / Warwick Ryan, Partner read more
The deceit of the policy manual

"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - Groucho Marx

17 May 2016 / Warwick Ryan, Partner read more
Workplace liability in unexpected places

In this article we look at two recent cases where employers face penalties in circumstances which highlight the need for employers and managers to be ...

22 Mar 2016 / Richard Ottley, Partner and Simon Obee, Solicitor read more
If you employ a worker for a particular project, can you terminate them at the end of that project?

Today in the world of Australian property, contingent workers fit the bill. Yet many employers have questions over whether you can terminate a contingent ...

22 Mar 2016 / Warwick Ryan, Partner read more
Is change ahead? The future of procedural fairness in unfair dismissal claims

A frequent area of confusion for employers, is the process which should be followed when terminating employment. This article looks at calls for reform to ...

23 Feb 2016 / Richard Ottley, Partner read more
When is a contractor not a contractor? Is an ABN enough?

Employment lawyers are constantly being told by their clients: "It's okay, he/she has an ABN". Employers often presume, as the worker has the "magical ...

9 Dec 2015 / Warwick Ryan, Partner read more
Can you still set off an employee's salary against Award entitlements? It's complicated!

In the area of set offs in employment law, a word of warning to cut through some of the complexity. You won't necessarily achieve the objective of being ...

9 Dec 2015 / Richard Ottley, Partner and Simon Obee, Solicitor read more
Unions are not above the law

In a very recent decision of the Federal Court, the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) had damages awarded against it of $482,000 and was ordered to pay a ...

15 Apr 2015 / Warwick Ryan, Partner read more
Moonlighting employees – it can be difficult to stop

There can be a number of particularly important reasons why employers need to know whether an employee is working elsewhere and also the nature of that work. 

11 March 2015 / Warwick Ryan, Partner READ MORE


Can you require an employee to provide medical evidence or attend a psychiatric examination?

From time to time employers will be faced with an employee whose behaviour suggests that they may have an underlying medical condition affecting their ... 

3 March 2015 / Richard Ottley, Partner READ MORE


They just don’t get on...but what can I do?

It can be a really difficult situation for an employer when two staff members simply do not get on. Neither is necessarily at fault or, alternately, both ...

19 Jan 2015 / Warwick Ryan, Partner read more
Directing an employee to go on gardening leave

When an employment relationship comes to an end, there are various mechanisms available to an employer to protect their business interests from an ex ...

22 Oct 2014 / Richard Ottley, Partner and Ellen Davis, Solicitor read more
A flattering performance appraisal can be your undoing

We all try and see the best in people, right? We have been told that if you compliment and encourage people their behaviour will improve, correct? So ...

14 Oct 2014 / Warwick Ryan, Partner read more
Can the Springboard principle be applied to restrain a former employee?

Employers have struggled in the past to find ways of restraining a former employee from setting up in competition and from soliciting their clients and ...

9 Oct 2014 / Richard Ottley, Partner read more
DEFAMATION ALLEGED IN RELATION TO TEACHER PERFORMANCE REPORT

A recent action in defamation commenced by a person engaged as a casual teacher for a period of 1 month at a country high school, has cast the spotlight on ...

2 Oct 2014 / Richard Ottley, Partner read more
DEMISE OF IMPLIED TERM OF MUTUAL TRUST AND CONFIDENCE - HIGH COURT DECISION

The legal fraternity has been eagerly awaiting the decision of the High Court in the case of Commonwealth Bank of Australia v Barker [2014] HCA 32 (10 ...

12 Sep 2014 / Richard Ottley, Partner read more
 
Association Memberships
Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation
  • 2015 - Finalist Lawyers Weekly Women in Law Awards
  • 2015 - Finalist Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards - Employee program of the year