Employment Relations and WHS: 2022 Year in Review


As 2022 draws to a close, our National Employment Relations and WHS team reflects on the year that was – discussing the trends they saw, our significant matters, and what may be in store for 2023.

“The productivity, engagement and ‘fit’ of every worker with their job matters more than ever. Retaining and enhancing your workforce and their confidence in the business requires clear and fair management, and management that is well informed about and anticipates incoming major workplace changes in 2023. Our best work is done in this space, preparing and empowering businesses for those changes.”

Tim Lange – Practice Team leader

Industry insights 

This year we have seen the emphasis and importance on ESG and corporate governance continue to grow – particularly around the area of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). The recently presented Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Bill 2022 (Cth) aims to provide greater protections around discrimination in the workplace – in particular, around Sex Discrimination. Employers will need to ensure they are compliant with the requirements of the various amendments – which means, preparing by:

  • Developing new policies to cover sexual harassment, sex discrimination and related WHS risks in their workplace (including pro-active measures and appropriate complaint procedures);
  • Providing meaningful and regular training for all staff, but properly tailored for leaders, line managers and staff generally;
  • Enhancing WHS practices to include risk assessments to identify the likelihood of discrimination and harassment occurring, and measures to eliminate or control hazards/risks; and
  • Implementing pro-active reporting methods, and other workplace monitoring programs to ensure they are best placed to continue to provide safe and thriving working environments.

We have also seen significant changes in industrial relations legislation with the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill) 2022 (Cth). This bill would propose considerable transformation in how employers will interact with their employees – to the degree that organisations may be required to review their broader workforce strategy. Organisations can currently prepare by reviewing their current procedures on matters such as flexible work requests, fixed-term contracts and pay secrecy, and considering how they might be impacted by the changes to agreement-making.

We expect to see the impacts of both proposed Bills continue well into 2023.

Team movements

This year we welcomed Chinthana Malalasekera (Lawyer) to our Sydney office and Joseph Hyde (Associate) and Dustin Grant (Associate) to our Adelaide office. We also welcomed 3 Law Clerks and 2 Law Graduates.

We have also seen a number of promotions in our team, nationally. Congratulations to Zoe McQuillan (Special Counsel, Sydney), Jack Bourke (Senior Associate, Melbourne), Mark Caile (Associate, Melbourne), and Lucie Lawrence-Wall (Associate, Adelaide).


Significant matters

Throughout the year, we continued to represent and advise our clients, across various industries and issues, including:

Biotechnology company
Acted for the publicly listed biotechnology company in relation to the defence of a general protections claim which originated in the Fair Work Commission, and which concluded (successfully for our client) before the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission.

Chatime Australia Pty Ltd
Represented both the Company (in its plea) and the Managing Director (in his defence) of the prosecution by the regulator, FWO in Fair Work Ombudsman v Chatime Australia Pty Ltd & Anor.

Long Service Leave test case (Conroy’s Smallgoods)
Acted for Conroy’s to appeal the decision of Deputy President Cole in Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union v Conroy’s Smallgoods Pty Ltd [2021] SAET 234 to the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia.

Epiroc Australia Pty Ltd
Acted for Epiroc to review executive employment contracts, including share and bonus schemes to support the transition of senior executives from the acquired entity.

Fulton Hogan Construction Pty Ltd
Successfully defended Fulton Hogan and several of their managers against a prosecution brought by the CFMMEU in the Federal Court.

Kingspan Water & Energy
Acted for Kingspan and two other respondents in response to an application by the AMWU which alleged that Kingspan and its agents had breached the right of entry provisions under the Fair Work Act 2009.

Acted for Cleanaway in resisting an attempted extension of Transport Workers’ Union coverage to its waste processing workforce.


This year, we have had some exceptional recognition – both for the team and our individuals – across our national Employment Relations practice team. We would like to thank our clients and colleagues, and we are looking forward to another successful year in 2023.

The Best Lawyers in Australia

In the 2023 edition of The Best Lawyers in Australia, 52 of Piper Alderman’s lawyers are recognised across 42 legal areas including the following partners in our Employment Relations team:

  • Tim Capelin – Health and Aged Care Law, Labour and Employment Law
  • Chris Hartigan – Education Law – “Melbourne Lawyer of the Year”, Employee Benefits Law, Labour and Employment Law
  • Tim Lange – Labour and Employment Law
  • Erin McCarthy – Education Law, Human Rights Law, Labour and Employment Law, Occupational Health and Safety Law
  • Ben Motro – Human Rights Law
  • Joe Murphy – Labour and Employment Law
  • Zoe McQuillan – Labour and Employment Law – One to Watch

Doyle’s Guide

In the 2022 edition of Doyle’s Guide, a number of our team members were highlighted as Preeminent, Recommended, Leading or Rising Star lawyers, including:

  • Shane Entriken – Recommended Employment Lawyer (Employer Representation) WA
  • Erin McCarthy – Preeminent Lawyer for Employment & Industrial Relations, SA | Leading Lawyer for Workplace Health & Safety, SA
  • Joe Murphy – Recommended Employment Lawyer (Employer Representation) NSW
  • Emily Slaytor – Rising Star for Employment & WHS Law, SA

We were also delighted to receive some very kind feedback from clients and contacts during the research process for the legal directories, including:

I couldn’t recommend the Piper Alderman Labour and employment team high enough. They are leaders in their field in terms of their depth of knowledge and expertise.” (Legal 500 Asia-Pacific, 2022)

“Family spirit and small but dedicated team. Fast response time and always willing to help. There is always an expert on hand for any given question. Taking good care of clients.” (Legal 500 Asia-Pacific, 2022)

“Always available, great communication if there could be a delay in assisting. Always responsive, no follow up needed. Great help especially from Ben Motro in all HR matters.” (Legal 500 Asia-Pacific, 2022)

Tim Lange is exceptional in terms of his practical advice and his deep expertise. What makes him different is that he has a focus on building his client’s capability and so works as a true partner in this space.” (Legal 500 Asia-Pacific, 2022)

Business Development

This year, our team developed a number of valuable content pieces for our clients – ranging from insights, and podcasts. We also took advantage of the opportunity to see our clients face-to-face again and hosted various in-person events, webinars and workplace training sessions.

The team developed another 5 episodes for its ‘Employment Law for the Time Poor’ podcast series, which sees our Employment Relations team discuss current legal issues in the workplace, and how these changes may impact the industry moving forward. In addition to this, the team also generated 26 insight and thought leadership pieces on a variety of issues including the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill, the Respect@Work Bill and key takeaways from the 2022 Jobs and Skills Summit.

This year we continued to offer our Masterclass Workplace Training Series workshops, which offer comprehensive training solutions to ensure our clients are developing the expertise of their own people, as opposed to relying on third-party specialists. We are excited to continue to share this series with our clients throughout 2023.