Employment Relations & WHS: 2023 Year in Review


As we approach the conclusion of yet another busy year, our Employment Relations & WHS team reflects on 2023’s accomplishments, developments, and industry trends, and predicts what the coming year ahead may have in store.

“2023 has been another year where our clients across all sectors have had to manage with labour shortages, increasing costs of managing their team, whilst grappling with new lows, and preparing for further changes to come.”

Tim Capelin – Practice Team leader

Industry insights 

2023 was a mammoth year for Employment Relations reforms, with the Respect@Work changes still being bedded down, numerous other changes contained within the Secure Jobs Better Pay Act and finishing with the partial passing of the Closing the Loopholes legislation.

There is no sector nor part of the labour force not affected.  Employment is being redefined, instruments used to engage employees and other workers have, or will have, new restrictions, the way enterprise bargaining may occur and the balance of power in those negotiations, have all been changed.

The laws proclaimed still need judicial consideration, and the legislation remaining before the Senate is yet to be fully determined.  Unfortunately, for employers we will be living with a degree of uncertainty.  That said, by understanding, and effectively navigating the new laws, opportunities will arise.

Team movements

We congratulate Tim Lange on his leadership of the team for several years, putting it in a very strong position as he hands over the leadership reins to Tim Capelin.

We welcomed Angeline Lee (Associate) and Essi Merivaara (Associate) this year and celebrated the well-deserved promotion of Emily Setter (Senior Associate) in July 2023. We are excited to see our team continuing to grow and deliver excellent service to our clients.

Significant matters

Our work during 2023 has been substantial and across all sectors of the non-government parts of the economy.  Whether it be assisting our clients in education, digital services, manufacturing, biotech, passenger and goods transport, retail, resources, financial services, or the not-for-profit sector, we have been helping clients navigate employment laws in an every changing environment.

From defending WHS prosecutions, assisting with enterprise bargaining, enabling clients to keep their employment documents up to date, training their teams, representing clients in the full range of employment related litigation, and providing strategic, and day to day sounding board, advice, we have been kept fully engaged with employment issues affecting our clients’ businesses.


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 2024.

The Best Lawyers in Australia

In the 2024 edition of The Best Lawyers in Australia, 54 of Piper Alderman’s lawyers are recognised across 43 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, 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
  • Emily Slaytor (Special Counsel)– Occupational Health and Safety Law – One to Watch

Doyle’s Guide

In the 2023 edition of Doyle’s Guide, a number of our team members were highlighted as Preeminent, Recommended, Leading or Rising Star lawyers, including:

  • Emily Haar – Leading Employment Lawyer (Employer Representation) SA
  • Erin McCarthy– Preeminent Employment Lawyer (Employer Representation) SA | Recommended Employment Lawyer (Employer Representation) Australia | Leading Workplace Health & Safety Lawyer SA
  • Andrew Stewart – Recommended Employment Lawyer (Employer Representation) SA
  • 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 the following testimonials from The Legal 500 Asia Pacific: Australia, 2023 edition:

“The standout point here is really availability and approachability and listening. Partners at Piper Alderman consult incredibly well to ensure the best outcomes for their clients.”

“They operate as business, but a striking difference is in how they also make every effort to ensure what they do improves community outcomes. The team is balanced regarding its skill set and expertise.”

“Piper Alderman’s employment team, in our experience, model the expectations of a modern law firm. They are upfront with their capacity, set realistic timeframes for delivery, and their work is always of exceptional quality.”

Empowering clients

We do our best to ensure our clients remain up to date with laws affecting employment.  We do this via articles, webinars, in-person learning, training and our highly popular podcast – employment law for the time poor.

Employment Law for the Time Poor podcast series, allows subscribers to stay up to date as they travel to work, exercise or undertake a myriad of activities whilst keeping up to date on the latest in employment law.

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 2024.