King & Wood Mallesons

Asia-Pacific 100 rank: 3

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Employee relations and safety

Clients look to our workplace and employee relations specialists to help them manage the legal, commercial and reputational risks associated with employment, OHS and industrial relations issues.

Few other areas of law regularly undergo such significant changes as workplace relations. This constant change is well illustrated by the dramatic reforms in the past five years from the introduction of the controversial WorkChoices legislation and its subsequent roll-back through the introduction of Labor’s Fair Work Act. The shift of emphasis to collective bargaining, the addition of a good faith bargaining regime, and new workplace protections and minimum conditions of employment have presented challenges and opportunities for businesses.

Achieving workplace relations objectives within such a dynamic political and regulatory framework requires foresight and the ability to adapt to change. Our lawyers draw on the deep knowledge of each client’s industry and business when advising on workplace relations and risk management strategies.  Our lawyers recognise that each client has different needs and our advice is strategic and tailored accordingly rather than driven by any particular ideology.

Employment disputes and issues are increasingly the subject of significant media attention and community debate and pose significant reputational risks for major corporates and institutions. Recent high-profile sexual harassment claims have brought to the fore the issue of director liability and shone a spotlight on complaints processes across corporate Australia. Many companies responded by testing the strength of these mechanisms and their overall risk management strategies with our lawyers. These disputes require careful handling and our lawyers’ focus on achieving commercial and confidential outcomes to sensitive complaints in this area.

In the wake of the global financial crisis, and with an aggrieved public keen to apportion blame and governments eager to deflect it, much attention has been focused on executive compensation. This has resulted in significant legislative intervention through the restrictions imposed on executive termination benefits and the further corporate governance reforms foreshadowed in 2011 including the controversial ‘two strikes rules’. These laws are producing a complex environment for boards of listed companies. Our lawyers have assisted some of Australia’s largest listed companies in this complex and sensitive area.

Occupational, health and safety is also subject to renewed focus with the proposed harmonisation of OHS laws and the new due diligence obligations which will be imposed on officers. Major workplace safety incidents present significant financial and reputation risks including the prospect of individual liability for managers and directors and our team works closely with clients to manage these risks.

Our depth of talent, breadth of expertise, flexibility and focus on individual client requirements set us apart from our competitors in the employment, safety and industrial law marketplace.

Chambers 2012 describes us as ‘an increasingly prominent player in the field of employment law’.

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Overview

Level 61, Governor Phillip Tower
1 Farrer Place
Sydney
NSW 2000
Australia
http://www.kwm.com

Total partners: 380
Total lawyers: 1,800