Workplace relations is about finding a way to manage the often competing aspirations of people in the workplace.

At Rigby Cooke, we ask what outcome the client is seeking, then assess and advise on the feasibility of that outcome. We’ll discuss the options that support business goals and then work towards achieving an outcome as close as possible to your desired outcome.

We can do this successfully because we use an integrated approach to all the relevant workplace functions and areas. We understand end-to-end the processes that impact on your workplace relations, and we have an excellent breadth of expertise in these matters.

We also understand what it means to be dealing with these often emotive and sensitive issues – our team has real-world experience that we bring to bear in our dealings with you. We’ll get to know you and your business, and help you make the right decisions.

Clients know they can trust us to give the right advice and be responsive across all aspects of their workplace relations needs in a cost-effective manner.

Employment Law

Many facets of business operations are subject to employment laws and businesses need to be sure they are getting the details right to avoid negative impact on their operations.

Rigby Cooke’s Workplace Relations team has spent many years assisting employers to deal with the wide variety of employment-related issues that can arise.

We will also work with you to determine the most appropriate and cost-efficient methods of communication with you, whether it be by phone, meeting, or email, allowing you to quickly and effectively resolve your workplace issues.

Our key areas of expertise are:

  • advising, drafting, negotiating and interpreting individual employment contracts, contractor/consultancy agreements, and enterprise agreements
  • advising, drafting and interpreting company policies and procedures
  • advising on terms and conditions, remuneration and benefits issues
  • auditing employee/industrial relations practices and procedures aimed at assisting employers to implement appropriate systems for effective workplace outcomes
  • advising on terminations, grievance issues and disciplinary processes
  • planning, designing, providing HR advice and assisting with work arrangements, organisational change and restructures
  • advising clients on company restructures, mergers/acquisitions and transmission of business issues
  • interpreting employment legislation such as the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)
  • conducting litigation such as unfair dismissal and breach of contract claims
  • legal due diligence in sales/acquisitions and drafting relevant terms and conditions in business sale agreements

Industrial Relations

The industrial relations landscape is a complex one. When an organisation wants to make major changes, or is subject to an industrial dispute, it is important to have responsive, experienced legal advisers who will be able to advise you through the whole process.

Rigby Cooke’s legal team takes the time to understand your business and develop a deep understanding of your unique situation so that we can provide clear, practical and timely advice on options and risks, and clear recommendations.

Our key areas of expertise are:

  • advising on effective industrial relations strategies for achieving major workplace change, including those arising from restructures, mergers/acquisitions and outsourcing
  • providing advice when industrial action is threatened or occurring
  • negotiating with unions regarding industrial disputes, enterprise agreements and restructures/redundancies/terminations
  • advising and appearing before industrial tribunals and courts

Enterprise Bargaining

Enterprise bargaining is becoming an integral part of running a business in many industries, but it can be daunting for employers to enter into negotiations on behalf of their organisation.

Rigby Cooke can assist you with your enterprise bargaining negotiations, ensuring you achieve your productivity and improvement goals while also meeting your obligations to your employees.

We will work side-by-side with your team to ensure we have a full understanding of your business, your strategy and your unique issues. Our team has experience across all workplace matters and has held roles in unions, human resources teams and employer associations, so can provide perspectives across all facets of the negotiation.  

We also pride ourselves on our responsive service, because we know that you cannot afford to wait days for advice when you are in the middle of an enterprise bargaining process.

We can help you with:

  • Developing enterprise bargaining strategies for employers when negotiating enterprise agreements with employees and/or unions
  • Interpreting awards and enterprise agreements
  • Training for your team on the legal and practical elements of enterprise bargaining 

Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying

Discrimination, harassment and bullying issues have the potential to be very disruptive to a workplace, and must be handled sensitively but effectively.

Rigby Cooke can provide expert advice on these issues when they arise. We can also conduct independent investigations, and act in proceedings in relation to these matters.

Our significant industry knowledge and experience means we can also provide you with strategic advice to help you avoid legal problems before they arise.

Our key areas of expertise are:

  • providing workplace training on unlawful discrimination, harassment and bullying
  • developing and implementing equal opportunity policies and procedures
  • undertaking and/or advising on workplace investigations, grievance handling and dispute resolution
  • providing strategic advice to assist in minimising legal risks and exposures, increasing productivity, and reducing staff turnover
  • advising and appearing before commissions, tribunals and courts

Workplace Health and Safety

The safety of your workers is more than just a compliance requirement, it is an investment in the productivity of your business. A safe workplace means lower costs in terms of compliance costs, absenteeism, and back-to-work processes. It also protects your brand image and business reputation.

Rigby Cooke can advise you on workplace health and safety (WH&S), also known as occupational health and safety (OH&S), and can conduct audits to ensure you comply to all statutory obligations.

We can also provide in-house training for your staff on workplace health and safety matters.

Our key areas of expertise are:

  • advising on WH&S compliance and risk management, and undertaking WH&S audits
  • delivering workplace training programs on WH&S
  • advising and appearing in WH&S prosecutions
  • advising on statutory obligations under Commonwealth and state WH&S legislation and assisting to manage statutory investigations
  • developing and implementing WH&S policies and procedures

Migration Services

If you are an overseas business that wishes to expand into Australia, or you wish to establish a new business in Australia, there are a number of options available to you in terms of business or investment migration visas.

However, applying for these visas is a complex process, with a range of requirements depending on the type of visa and your levels of investment. Getting it right is critical.

Rigby Cooke offers a unique blend of skills, combining migration law experience with employment, property and tax law know-how, to help you determine which visa is most appropriate for your requirements.

We can then assist with your application, including liaising with the relevant agencies. If a migration matter has an unexpected outcome, we can act for you on all issues including appeals and reviews, audits, health or character issues, and deportation.

We can help you with:

  • identifying the most appropriate business or investor visa for high net worth individuals, including the Significant Investor Visa
  • transferring key staff to establish or maintain a business in Australia, including:
    • temporary subclass 457 working visa, or
    • permanent subclass 186 working visa
  • obtaining approval as a Standard Business Sponsor to hire overseas workers on subclass 457 visas for Australian businesses facing critical skills shortages
  • sending Australian workers overseas to work, applying for the correct visa, and addressing existing employment arrangements in Australia
  • incorporation of Australian companies, advice on resident director requirements
  • advise on purchase and lease of commercial property, Foreign Investment Review Board requirements
  • international tax considerations, including double taxation treaty advice
  • employment contracts, secondment arrangements, employment disputes 

Training and Workshops

Rigby Cooke’s Workplace Relations team can help empower your internal teams by providing in-house training and workshops on a range of workplace relations topics, including workplace health and safety, industrial relations, enterprise bargaining, and discrimination, harassment and bullying.

Our team’s experience in large law firms, human resources practices, corporate in-house legal teams, employer associations and unions enables us to provide you with a comprehensive and practical approach to workplace relations issues.

All of our training covers both legal and practical components of the topics, so that your people are ready to apply what they learn.

Return to Expertise

Workplace Relations team

Case studies & articles