Employment

Our Employment Group excels in providing practical and commercially focused advice on all issues arising in the course of the employment relationship.

Our clients include leading multinational and Irish companies, public sector organisations and senior executives.   Arising from William Fry’s prominence in M&A work, a significant portion of our practice involves the employment aspects of takeovers and business sales.  

We represent clients in claims before the Workplace Relations Commission, the Labour Court, the High Court and the Supreme Court.

Our areas of expertise include:

  • Recruitment
  • Equality
  • Bullying and harassment
  • Disciplinary investigations and procedures
  • Employment injunction proceedings
  • Dismissals
  • Redundancy Programmes
  • Post-termination restrictive covenants
  • Employment issues in receiverships, examinerships and liquidations
  • Employee rights in business sales and outsourcings, including Transfer of Undertakings Issues
  • Industrial Relations
  • Preparing bespoke training sessions for HR personnel on specific

Our experience includes:

  • Advising market leaders in almost all industry sectors including DCC, B&Q, Marsh Ireland Ltd, CPL, Boots, Diageo, Digital Realty Trust and Smurfit Kappa Group. 
  • Representing B&Q Ireland Limited in a four-day High Court Appeal judgment which clarified the law in Ireland in relation to bonus and allowance payments.
  • Acted as Lead Counsel for Tesco during the re-tendering of its transport/distribution contract for Ireland.
  • Acted as advisor and counsel to Hasbro Inc. in its purchase of well-known Irish animation company Boulder Media.
  • Advised the AA, the UK’s largest breakdown cover organisation, on the sale of its Irish business and operations, AA Ireland Limited, to US-Irish private equity fund Carlyle Cardinal Ireland.  
  • Advised on the largest real estate related transaction in the history of the Irish State, we acted for the joint venture in acquiring ownership of a number of assets that were owned and developed by Chartered Land, including Dundrum Town Centre (Ireland’s largest shopping centre). 
  • Acting for Dunnes Stores in a landmark Supreme Court appeal overturning the judgment of the High Court granting damages for wrongful dismissal and in respect of personal injury.
  • Advising SOLAS and B&Q on an ongoing basis on health and safety issues
  • Advising a number of major corporations on severance agreements with senior executives.
  • Advising a number of employers in relation to 'team moves' by former employees and, in one case, obtaining and executing an Anton Piller Order against former employees. 

New Year, New Approach to Mandatory Retirement?

The continued trend of substantial compensation awards, against the backdrop of Ireland's ageing workforce and plans to increase the State pension age to 67 next year (and to 68 in 2028), is a cause of concern for employers attempting to balance their business needs without cutting across Ireland's equality laws.


Forced Retirement Deemed a Discriminatory Termination

Imposition of retirement age without a contractual basis held by WRC to constitute an unlawful discrimination termination


A Lesson This School Won't Forget - School Ordered to Pay €34,000 to Former Teacher

The Workplace Relations Commission recently awarded a teacher just short of one year's salary after it found that the teacher was "sent packing with no regard to the requirements of law".


General Data Protection Regulation – Likely Impact for Employers and How to Prepare

The General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR"), due to take effect on 25 May 2018, aims to harmonise data protection rules across the European Union ("EU") and marks a milestone in data protection laws in the EU. The GDPR places onerous obligations on organisations in relation to all personal data which they process. It is strongly advisable that employers begin to prepare now for the GDPR and we have highlighted five key points to use as a starting point. Data Protection Officers ("DPOs")


Legislative Proposals for Precarious Work Approved

The Government has approved proposals for priority drafting of legislation which aims to improve the employment protections afforded to workers on zero-hour and low-hour contracts and strengthen the regulation of precarious work.


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Department

  •  William Fry's Employment & Benefits team is "resourced with top quality individuals who are on top of their game in terms of legal skills and knowledge." One client mentions the team "are very commercial in their outlook – and focused on helping clients achieve their preferred objectives. I have found them very approachable and straightforward in their advice." They have also been described as having "a wealth of experience in dealing with complex employee share schemes and are pragmatic and solutions focused in navigating challenges." One client notes that their "strengths are their knowledge of the industry and their expertise in the field. They keep up to date with emerging topics/issues, are quick to advise on them and proactive in bringing important issues to the table." Legal 500 2020
  • "I really trust their judgement," says an impressed client, adding: "They are innovative in mitigating risk and they make complex things seem straightforward." Another source is emphatic in their praise for the lawyers: "Their advice is very thorough and the team is extremely responsive. It is the personal touch I am most impressed with." Chambers Europe 2020
  • William Fry "will go beyond the brief to ensure that its advice is practical as well as legally sound". Legal 500 2019
  • An interviewee appreciates the team's "very clear and uncomplicated advice". Another source is grateful that the lawyers"are really approachable and speak in layman's terms, highlighting the associated risks". Chambers Europe 2019 
  • A client notes: "Their work in my experience has always been of the highest quality. The advice is practical and relevant and always geared towards the best interests of the client," adding: "They have an in-depth knowledge of our business which guarantees that the advice provided is always relevant." Another client says: "Not only are they extremely knowledgeable, innovative in their advice and commercially minded, they are also a down-to-earth, unassuming and approachable team of solicitors." Chambers Europe, 2018
  • Interviewees say the group is "very capable, pragmatic and customer-focused. They bring a wealth of experience to employment and pensions law issues and provide responsive, practical and effective solutions to critical issues." Other clients refer to a "top-class service" from the department, advising: "It is a very collegial team that is very careful and considered about its advice and always on point. It is particularly good in complex or sensitive scenarios." Sources explain that the "partners are receptive, responsive, experienced and provide added value, as well as very good legal advice. There is a good breadth and depth in terms of back-up resources, and all cross-border work is handled expertly." Chambers Europe 2017
  • "The firm's advice is of the highest quality and based on solid research and case studies. It is also highly tailored and relevant. Working with this firm is an educational experience." Chambers Europe, 2016
  • "I would rate William Fry's performance very highly. Apart from mastery of the technical aspects of the work, I find the firm pragmatic and commercial when it comes to pension-related matters and it acts as a partner to us in delivering optimal solutions." Chambers Europe, 2016
  • The team at William Fry takes ‘a highly professional, informed and engaging approach.’ Legal 500 EMEA 2016

Team

Catherine O'Flynn
  •  According to Legal 500 2020, one client described Catherine as "a stand-out employment lawyer" and has "the full range of expertise and maintains a high profile with indigenous and international corporates." Another client noted that Catherine "is an excellent and experienced advisor, providing pragmatic guidance on issues of Irish employment law. She would always be my first port of call as trusted counsel in Ireland, on anything complex or strategic."
  • Sources laud Catherine's approach to mandates, with one client reporting: "Her advice is very pragmatic and she always explains very complex situations in easily understandable language." Chambers Europe 2020
  • "She is an extremely capable individual with a great understanding of our business. She has a keen academic brain and is a great asset to the team." Chambers Europe 2019
  • One client particularly appreciates that "she is decisive, reassuring, incredibly efficient and effective," adding: "You feel safe under her direction." Chambers Europe 2018
  • Catherine O’Flynn is ‘incredibly effective’. Legal 500 EMEA 2018 
  • Sources describe her as "very astute, direct and diplomatic." Chambers Europe 2017 
  • Sources say "She has an ability to ask the right questions and provide clarity on the key elements and possible courses of action." Chambers Europe 2016 

Alicia Compton

  • In Chambers Europe 2020, one source highlights Alicia as "an asset to any client for her practical style and expert advice."  Another impressed client reports: "She figures out the best possible outcome for her client and works relentlessly to accomplish it. She thinks and acts with complete clarity and can express the most complicated and convoluted problems in an understandable manner."
  • According to Legal 500 EMEA 2020, one client said "I work principally with Alicia Compton. She is outstanding. Her key attributes are that she is outcome focused, pragmatic, crystal clear in her thinking and advice, exudes calm, and will tackle any problem. She also leads a strong team very well." Another client noted that "Alicia is one of Ireland’s top employment lawyers. She is always on top of her brief and her down to earth practical approach to problem solving is worth gold." 
  • One impressed client states: "She has extensive experience and knowledge of our business and can provide advice in a most practical and efficient way. She has an uncanny knack of being able to see through the mire and understand where the real problem lies." Chambers Europe 2019
  • Alicia is described as a 'most trusted adviser'. Legal 500 EMEA 2019
  • Alicia Compton is ‘extremely innovative’. Legal 500 EMEA 2018 
  • Alicia Compton is ‘one of Ireland’s leading practitioners’. Chambers Europe 2017 
  • Clients comment that Alicia has "intricate knowledge of our business and backs us proactively at every turn. It's almost like she is a part of our company, rather than an external provider. Fantastic!". Chambers Europe 2016
  • Alicia's  "keen legal brain and common sense result in excellent outcomes". Legal 500 EMEA 2016 

Michael Wolfe

  • Michael Wolfe  continues to impress the market with his unrivaled experience in the pensions arena. One client describes him as "top of his area of expertise," while another appreciates his "level of detail, swiftness of response and clarity." Chambers Europe 2019
  • The "utterly reliable" Michael Wolfe is a seasoned practitioner with impressive knowledge of pensions law. Clients say: "He is very responsive, knowledgeable and can deal with individuals at all levels." Chambers Europe 2017 
  • Sources state: "He has great knowledge of the industry in Ireland and comes up with creative solutions for difficult problems." Chambers Europe, 2016

Maura Roe

  • According to Legal 500 2020, one source notes that "Maura is hugely experienced in employee share option schemes and is always pragmatic and solutions focused." 
  • Market sources praise Maura's "commercial and pragmatic advice." Chambers Europe 2020 
  • Clients describe Maura as "practical, pragmatic, well informed, easy to deal with and very level-headed." Chambers Europe 2019
  • The 'standout' Maura Roe. Legal 500 EMEA 2019
  • Maura, whom one client calls ‘the foremost expert in Ireland on shares and share options’Chambers Europe 2017 

Key Contacts

Alicia Compton Partner

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