Photo of Henry Skene

At the forefront of new law, in areas where many others dread to walk, Henry is at his finest.

For legal advice to be truly effective, it must seize an opportunity or solve a problem, aligned with an organisation strategy – exactly what Henry is known for. Delivering solutions that innovate and focus on the long term. Commercially-minded and outcomes-driven, he is uncompromising when advancing the interests of employers and business owners.

His novel application of conventional principles does not stop at the elevator, it continues in his various entrepreneurial interests in farming, viticulture, bee keeping and diamonds.

On 12 December 2013 Seyfarth Shaw announced our Australian offices were officially open for business. Today marks five years since those doors opened.

What better way to reflect than to ask ourselves, what have been the biggest changes in our specialist areas of law over those five years?

“It has become increasingly difficult to make

Trade union conduct is constantly changing, and our team have observed trends that are reshaping the boundaries, and that have already begun to impact our clients.

Policy Measures: increased scrutiny on trade union conduct

On the policy front, the conservative government has implemented three measures addressing unlawful behaviour by unions and their members based on the findings of former High Court Justice John Dyson Heydon AC QC in the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption in 2015.

Two key measures passed in late 2016.

Continue Reading United we stand. But lawfully.

So, your star employee has resigned. What happens next can be crucial for your brand.

The way a business responds to the resignation of a star employee is a touchstone of successful HR leadership. Employees, competitors, customers, and other key stakeholders (as well as your falling star) will be all eyes and ears about how you (HR) and senior management react to the news. HR 101 teaches us that recognising an employee’s decision to move on is part and parcel of business reality – but is there merit in leveraging the process further?
Continue Reading Breaking up is hard to do

Everybody agrees that drug and alcohol use in the workplace is a serious safety issue.

And when it comes to safety, unions understandably press employers to manage any issues and hold them accountable in doing so. But, when it comes to managing drug and alcohol at work, many unions have struggled to walk the talk.
Continue Reading Walking the talk: the thin red line of drug and alcohol testing

The Bargaining Coach rarely comments on decisions of courts or tribunals. Plenty of others do that. This is a rare exception.

Many of you will by now be aware of the Aurizon decision where a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission constituted by Vice President Watson, Deputy President Gostencnik and Commission Spencer terminated 12 enterprise agreements. Fundamentally, this decision recalibrates the approach taken to the termination of expired enterprise agreements.
Continue Reading The Bargaining Coach: FWC provides bargaining reality-check

Aurizon, previously a government owned entity, operates in the rail industry. The company had been bargaining in relation to numerous enterprise agreements. Part of the company’s bargaining platform was to be relieved of onerous restrictions on management, many of which were legacies of its public sector origins. The changes were resisted and the bargaining became intractable.

In an effort to overcome the legacy arrangements, Aurizon applied to the Fair Work Commission to terminate the agreements.
Continue Reading Aurizon: Operating in perpetuity not in the public interest

  • An all too common feature of individual employee claims is to include salacious allegations designed to shame or embarrass management representatives.
  • In many cases, such allegations are unrelated to the issues to be determined in the case and are made without proper foundation.  Rather, their purpose is to extract a “shame or silence” premium in settlement negotiations.
  • Recent cases debunk popular “cost-free” perceptions about the Fair Work jurisdiction and reinforce that smear campaigns expose employees and their representatives to liability for legal costs of those required to defend them.
  • Careful positioning by employers can turn the tables on such campaigns by exposing baseless or irrelevant allegations for what they are – an attempt at leverage –  with costly consequences for those responsible.

If you would like more information, read on…
Continue Reading Recovering wasted costs and combatting the “trial by media” litigation strategy

Employers connected with the construction industry will be aware that in April the Minister for Employment issued an advance release of the Building and Construction Industry (Fair and Lawful Building Sites) Code (Draft Code) as part of the proposed reforms of the building and construction industry.  The advance release coincided with attempts by construction unions to pre-empt the new code by making agreements preserving non-compliant content before it commenced operation.
Continue Reading Proposed reforms to the building and construction industry: draft Commonwealth Code changes bargaining behaviour