Employment Law

Hall Payne aims to resolve your employment dispute quickly, fairly and discreetly.

With over 25 years experience in employment law, our lawyers are experienced in obtaining fair results for employees. Home to some of Australia’s top-ranked employment lawyers, Hall Payne is recognised as a leading employment law firms by the prestigious Doyle’s Guide.

Our cost-effective legal advice spans all areas of employment law. If you think something is amiss at work, we can help. Seek advice as soon as possible as time limits relate to different claims.

Our Expert

Luke Forsyth

Principal

Director

Luke is recognised as one of Australia's leading employment lawyers, bringing over 15 years experience helping employees in all areas of employment law.

Common Questions

What areas of employment law do you deal with?

Our team is known for its ability to navigate the complexities of employment law and associated jurisdictions, and can assist you in all matters relating to employment law, including :

  • Unfair dismissals
  • Executive terminations
  • General protection claims
  • Disciplinary processes
  • Contract negotiations
  • Enterprise bargaining
  • Sexual harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Restraint of trade
  • Contractual disputes

Our specialties include:

  • helping you in situations of unfair dismissal, redundancy, workplace discrimination or to understand your rights and obligations under your contract of employment or industrial instrument.
  • recovering unpaid wages and entitlements and prosecuting industrial instrument (Awards, enterprise agreements) contraventions.
  • protecting your reputation in termination disputes, restraints of trade and matters under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).

How can you help with my employment contract?

We can help you at all stages during the life of your employment contract. This includes:

  • negotiate your next employment contract.
  • clarify your rights under your current contract.
  • what your obligations are both during and after employment.
  • recovering entitlements, including incentive based benefits.

We can assist you in enforcing contractual rights, navigating breach of contract allegations and to clarify your entitlements after a contract is terminated, including the application of any restraint of trade clauses.

While you might be excited about starting a new job or negotiating new terms for an existing position, signing an employment contract indicates a big commitment from you about what could potentially be the next couple of years of your life. Getting legal advice means you know exactly what that commitment is.

What are my options as a senior manager or executive?

Hall Payne have significant experience assisting executives and senior managers in their employment.

Modern awards and unfair dismissal legislation have limited application for high income employees. This mean that many senior managers and executives have fewer avenues to pursue a claim if their employment is terminated, and can further be limited by matters arising through a restraint of trade in their contractor under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).

We specialize in advising on breach of contract matters, including wrongful terminations, disputes about bonus and share entitlements, restraints, confidential information disputes  and claims under Competition and Consumer Act 2010 for misleading and deceptive conduct.

We know these matters can be potentially devastating for careers. Our lawyers focus on discrete solutions that protect our clients now and in the future, so your career can continue to flourish.

What are my award or enterprise agreement rights?

In Australia, most employees are covered by an award or enterprise agreement. If yours is one of them, you may be entitled to rights in addition to those in your contract. All employees are entitled to the National Employment Standards, also known as the NES.

If your employer breaches an award, enterprise agreement or the NES you may recover compensation and potentially penalties for the breach.

Employment law can be complex. We can help you understand the industrial instruments as they apply to you and ensure you access your full range of entitlements. We specialise in recovering unpaid wages and entitlements and seeking penalties for contraventions of the Fair Work Act 2009.

What if my conduct is investigated or I’m subject to disciplinary proceedings?

Employers should provide you natural justice when conducting workplace investigations or undertaking disciplinary proceedings. The principles of natural justice include the right to a fair hearing, and for any decision to be made free from bias. These principles may apply to investigations into misconduct, bullying, health or safety concerns, workplace accidents, drug use, misuse of employer’s equipment or information, performance issues and more.

If you are being investigated we can advise on your rights and obligations and assist you during these proceedings to ensure you get a fair go.

In any proceedings, including disciplinary proceedings, there’s an obligation that you are treated fairly. If you think this hasn’t happened we can help, potentially bringing about a review of the outcome or other remedies.

What can I do if my employment has been terminated and I think it was unfair?

Unfair dismissal can be a complex legal issue and will often require expert advice.
A strict 21 day time limit from the date of your termination applies, so you must act quickly!

If you think your termination was unfair, harsh, unjust or unreasonable, you may have a claim. This might be as simple as you not being given an opportunity to respond to any allegations that resulted in your termination or, where the termination related to unsatisfactory performance, whether you were warned about these performance issues.

We can help to lodge your unfair dismissal application and will work with you to find the best possible solution.

What does a restraint of trade mean for me?

A restraint of trade is a contractual term that seeks to limit what an employee can do after their employment ends. Usually, they will be designed to prevent you from working for competitors for a period of time, pinching your former employer’s customers or staff, or setting up your own business in direct competition with your previous employer. A restraint will often put limitations on your ability to use or reveal confidential information.

Just because your contract (or your employee’s contract)  has a restraint does not mean it is valid. The courts recognise the public and individual interest in allowing a person to trade freely, including the right to sell their own labour, and have interpreted restraint clauses very strictly. This means that the area of post-employment restraints is very technical. To dispute, or enforce, a restraint you must address whether the restraint is:

  • is designed to protect a legitimate interest of the employer recognised by the law; and
  • the extent of the restriction is no greater than is necessary to protect that interest.

Employees
If your employment is subject to a restraint clause we recommend seeking legal advice to understand the scope and impact of this clause. This is particularly important if you are looking to work for a competitor, or start your own business.

If you receive a letter from your former employer threatening you with court proceedings for breaching a restraint, you should seek urgent legal advice.  The failure to do so can be catastrophic for your career, with the Court able to issue injunctions stopping you from working in breach of the restraint, ordering you pay compensation to your former employer and that you pay their legal costs.

Employers
If one of your employee’s has left and is poaching your clients, or misusing confidential information you must act quickly.  The usual remedy sought from the courts, if negotiations fail, is seeking an injunction to prevent the employee breaching the restraint. This is a powerful remedy.  Your ability to obtain such relief from the Courts may be affected if you don’t act quickly to protect your businesses interests.

We have expert knowledge in this area and can assist you with:

  • advice on the enforceability of restraint;
  • drafting effective and enforceable restraints;
  • resisting the enforcement of a restraint; and
  • enforcing a restraint.

I’ve been made redundant: what are my rights?

Losing your job will always be tough. Redundancy provisions exist to make things a little easier during a transition like this and it’s important you know what your entitlements are, and how to access them.

If you’ve been made redundant you may be entitled to redundancy payments through legislation, your contract, your award or enterprise agreement, or a combination of these. You may also qualify for further entitlements and, in certain circumstances, you may be entitled to reinstatement or redeployment. We can help you to understand and access everything you are owed so you’re able to take the next step in your career with confidence and support.

What are general protections?

General protections are a series of “protections” in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) that aim to:

  • protect workplace rights
  • protection against coercion, intimidation and misrepresentation;
  • protecting you from sham contracting;
  • protect freedom of association
  • provide protection from discrimination at work, and
  • provide effective relief for anyone who is discriminated against, victimised, or otherwise treated unfairly at work.

General protections do this by providing that a person (usually your employer or supervisor) must not take ‘adverse action’. This means that a person must not terminate you, discriminate between you and other workers or treat you unfavourably because you have a workplace right, have exercised a workplace right, or you propose to exercise a workplace right.

The legal meaning of workplace right is very broad. You have workplace rights to make a complaint or enquiry about your employment (like seeking a pay rise), insisting on being paid correctly or receiving your lawful entitlements. This can also include occupational health and safety matters, discrimination legislation, and includes any right contained within the Fair Work Act and associated legislation and regulation.

A general protections claim may be related to your dismissal, but it doesn’t have to be. You can still be working somewhere and use the general protections provisions to assert your rights at work. If you are about to be terminated for exercising a workplace right, act quickly.  Courts have the power to stop your boss from terminating you if they have breached the general protection provisions of the Fair Work Act by issuing injunctions. You may also be entitled to compensation and your boss can be fined – with the fine being paid to you.

If you want to find out more about your ability to claim, contact a member of our employment law team.

What workplace rights are covered by general protections?

If you have a right at work, the general protections contained within the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) protect your ability to exercise that right. This includes:

  • making a complaint about a supervisor
  • making enquiries about an underpayment
  • being a member of a union
  • taking personal leave
  • returning to work from a period of parental leave.

General protections also protect your right to work free of discrimination.

This can be a complex and confusing area of the law. If you think you’ve been treated unfairly, we can help you work out whether you have a claim, and how to make that claim. Contact one of our expert general protections lawyers today. But act fast – time limitations may apply.

I’ve been discriminated against at work: what can I do?

Workplace discrimination is when you are treated unfairly at work because of your race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion (including union activity) or social origin.

Workplace discrimination contravenes the Fair Work Act, as well as state and federal anti-discrimination legislation. We have experience using all of these protections to ensure your right to work free from discrimination. Where your claim sits across the employment and discrimination jurisdictions we can help you to determine and pursue the best course of action for your claim.

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