Melbourne Employment Lawyers 2

Employment Law & Workplace Relations

Employment and workplace relations in Victoria present a complex legal landscape. There are a range of laws and regulations that must be considered by employers for them to meet their obligations and minimise disputes. Employees facing workplace issues will typically feel vulnerable and will often need to get legal help to ensure that their individual interests are protected.

We can help both employers and employees with a range of workplace matters including unfair dismissal claims, discrimination complaints, and disputes over entitlements or workplace conditions.

Employment Contracts and the National Employment Standards

Most workers in Australia are protected by the National Workplace Relations System established under the Fair Work Act (Cth) 2009.

The Fair Work Act established the National Employment Standards (NES) which are minimum standards that apply for workers covered by the Fair Work system. As a minimum, the eleven standards stipulated by the NES cannot be excluded or bargained away in an employment contract. This means that if an employment contract offers less than the NES system, an employee is entitled to receive these standards regardless of any agreement they have signed.

NES covers matters such as hours of work, personal and annual leave entitlements, as well as notice of termination and redundancy pay. It also protects workers’ rights to request a move from casual to permanent employment or to seek flexible working arrangements, which can only be refused on reasonable grounds.

If you are a small business, we will guide you through your legal obligations within the workplace and can assist with preparing compliant employment agreements to manage your risk or exposure to any underpayment claim in your business.


Most Victorian workers are covered by Modern Awards or Enterprise Agreements. We can help you determine what you should be paid in wages and other entitlements and to claim back pay if you have been underpaid. Generally, workers have six years from their period of employment to claim any back pay.

Termination and Redundancy

When terminating employment, employers must ensure compliance with their statutory obligations, including notice periods, severance pay, and redundancy entitlements. We can explain your obligations and the employment laws relating to termination and assist with managing restructures and redundancies.

Similarly, workers who have been terminated or made redundant need to understand their legal rights and any benefits to which they are entitled. If you believe you should not have been made redundant, that the redundancy was not “genuine”, or your employer has not consulted you before their decision, you may have rights to pursue an unfair dismissal or general protections claim. Additionally, if your employer raises allegations of misconduct or issues regarding performance, we can help you during a workplace investigation and provide ongoing advice, support or representation.

Unfair Dismissal

A dismissal is unfair under the Fair Work Act if it is “harsh, unjust, or unreasonable”. A dismissal is generally found to be unfair unless it is made because of a valid, sound, and defensible reason. The reason must have been given at the time of the termination.

If you have been terminated in circumstances that you believe were harsh, unjust, or unreasonable, we can provide advice and represent you at the Fair Work Commission. Strict time limits apply for making an unfair dismissal claim, so it is important to obtain legal advice quickly.

We can also assist if you are an employer defending an unfair dismissal claim. We will provide considered advice regarding your options, rights, and obligations, and represent your interests at the Fair Work Commission.

General Protection Rights

Workers have rights which the law protects in the workplace including “workplace rights” which apply to their engagement whether as an employee or as an independent contractor. “Attributes” such as age, disability (or injury), carer status or gender are also protected.

If an employer terminates someone’s services or has taken adverse action because an employee has exercised or proposes to exercise a workplace right, or because they have a specific attribute, they may be able to file a general protection claim. Like unfair dismissal claims, strict time limits apply.

Discrimination and Harassment Claims

A range of federal and state government anti-discrimination laws aim to reduce instances of discrimination in the workplace for a range of attributes, including:

  • Age
  • Sex or sexual orientation
  • Employment
  • Disability
  • Physical features
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Personal association with a person who is identified by reference to any of the attributes (or other protected attributes).

If you believe you have encountered discrimination or harassment in your workplace, we can help to enforce your rights and secure appropriate remedies.

Employers facing a discrimination claim should seek early legal advice to appropriately address and resolve the complaint and, if necessary, defend the claim. We can also help to implement workplace preventive measures, such as training programs and anti-discrimination policies, to minimise the risk of harm leading to a subsequent claim.


Bullying is generally defined as conduct occurring while a worker is at work which involves repeated unreasonable behaviour towards another worker that creates a risk to their health and safety. Workers have rights to apply for a stop bullying order or other rights including lodging a work cover claim.

Workplace Policies and Procedures

Employers often rely on lawyers to draft and review workplace policies and procedures that comply with Victoria’s employment laws and workplace health and safety laws. We can assess or draft these policies to ensure they align with your legal requirements to address a range of workplace issues.

Industrial Relations

We represent both employers and employees to navigate Victoria’s industrial relations framework, including enterprise bargaining, award interpretation, and workplace agreements. Balancing the interests of both parties requires a thorough understanding of relevant legislation, negotiation skills, and an ability to provide strategic advice.

If you need any assistance, contact one of our lawyers at [email protected] or call 03 9600 2508 for expert legal advice.