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

When a casual is still not a casual

Posted By on 21/05/20 at 2:06 PM

Perhaps unsurprisingly to some, yesterday’s Full Federal Court decision of WorkPac Pty Ltd v Rossato [2020] FCAFC 84 (Rossato) has delivered the same outcome as the landmark decision of WorkPac Pty Ltd v Skene [2018] FCAFC 131 (Skene). See here to read our previous Skene update. Rather than appealing the Full Court’s decision in Skene … Read more


Posted By and on 16/04/20 at 3:37 PM

Last week Parliament passed the Jobkeeper legislation to give effect to the Federal Government’s new Jobkeeper payment scheme to deliver the flat rate wage subsidy of $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee to qualifying employers, in addition to making a number of temporary changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act) to address the … Read more

Stress leave – minimising adverse action risk

Posted By on 10/02/20 at 8:01 AM

This is the third post in a series on adverse action claims, based on a presentation and paper delivered by Michael Cochrane (Special Counsel) on the Television Education Network (TEN) on 13 November 2019.  In our previous post, we discussed why and how employees use adverse action provisions during a legitimate performance management process.  In this … Read more

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