Michael Cochrane Special Counsel

Michael is a Special Counsel in our Workplace Relations & Safety group, and practices all aspects of workplace relations law with a particular focus in the areas of employee relations, corporate employment, M&A/transactional employment matters and dispute resolution.

Michael’s ER expertise is enhanced by his strong corporate and commercial background, which enables him to provide sound practical legal solutions to complex employment law issues with commercially focused outcomes.

Michael has experience acting for clients from SMEs through to global corporations in a diverse range of industry sectors including IT services, consulting/recruitment, professional services, insurance and financial services, transport and logistics, retail and supply, building and construction, resources, manufacturing and education.

Michael’s areas of expertise and key strengths include:

  • employee relations and corporate employment matters
  • corporate performance, including change management/restructuring and M&A/transactional employment issues
  • employment dispute resolution, including executive/contractual disputes and breaches of restraints, confidentiality & IP obligations
  • employment disputation, including adverse action, unfair dismissal and EEO disputes
  • industrial relations, including enterprise bargaining, approvals and disputes
  • terminations, including the planning of termination of employment strategies
  • performance management strategies and workplace investigations
  • employment contracts, policies and training
  • Fair Work Act and Award/Agreement compliance, interpretation and enforcement
  • employee entitlements and FWO investigations
  • employee share option plans and bonus schemes, and
  • employment law advisory.

Michael regularly appears at the Fair Work Commission, in State and Federal courts, VCAT and in other jurisdictions. He is a member of the Industrial Relations Society of Victoria, and regularly publishes articles and delivers seminars and webinars on topical employment issues.

Latest News & Insights

Workplace Relations Q2 update: wage theft, non-standard work, travel time, labour hire and a Merry Christmas!

IN THIS UPDATE:  with Woolworths in the spotlight the era of ‘wage theft’ continues, we have the latest non-standard work (labour hire and gig work) developments, we had an important industrial ruling on travel time, there is a labour hire licensing update for Victoria, news on the varied Modern Awards and some new FWC forms … Read more

IT company’s termination based on “vague” task list ruled unlawful

Posted By on 17/10/19 at 9:47 AM

A recent unfair dismissal decision of the Fair Work Commission highlights that it is never enough to merely establish that an employer had a reasonable belief that a performance-based termination was for a “valid reason”. Rather, the Commission still needs to make a finding on the balance of probabilities that the performance was, in fact, … Read more

Annualised wage arrangements – new obligations for employers

Posted By on 31/07/19 at 11:53 AM

By Adrian Faelli (Lawyer) and Michael Cochrane (Special Counsel) The Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission has finalised* its examination of annualised wage arrangements as part of the 4 yearly Modern Awards review.  From 1 March 2020, certain Modern Awards will contain 1 of 4 new ‘Model Clauses’ that expand an employer’s record-keeping, payment … Read more

The ‘gig’ is up for now… FWO withdraws against Foodora and Uber wins again

Posted By on 17/07/19 at 6:28 PM

Michael Cochrane (Special Counsel) and Adrian Faelli (Lawyer) share their insights on the latest trends in the gig economy. Last month, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) decided to discontinue its well-publicised Federal Court underpayments claim against Foodora Australia following the company’s administration and subsequent exit from the Australian market.  While gig economy businesses (and businesses … Read more

4 yearly review of Modern Awards – our Q2 update

Posted By on 24/09/18 at 5:03 PM

By Michael Cochrane (Senior Associate), Josephine Mammone (Trainee Lawyer) and Stephanie Koumbarakos (Trainee Lawyer) There has been much discussion about the macroeconomic picture of our workplace relations system in recent times with the gig economy, “wage theft”, the ACTU’s “change the rules” campaign, enterprise bargaining trends – and of course that leadership circus in Canberra … Read more

Out of the shadows – FWC representation

Posted By on 1/08/18 at 10:05 AM

A recent ruling of the Fair Work Commission full bench in Ross Kennedy v Qantas Ground Services Pty Ltd [2018] FWCFB 4319 has cast some further light on the tough stance taken on legal representation in the “shadow lawyers” decision ruling last October ultimately finding that even larger employers which employ HR or in-house lawyers … Read more

Tough gig for workers

Posted By on 17/07/18 at 2:05 PM

By Michael Cochrane (Senior Associate) and Stephanie Koumbarakos (Trainee Lawyer) In May 2018, Greens MP, Adam Bandt introduced the Fair Work Amendment (Making Australia More Equal) Bill into parliament.  The bill is targeted at gig economy workers (also known as “sharing” economy workers), such as Ubereats drivers and Deliveroo bicycle riders. Currently, these workers are considered … Read more