image of Cilla RobinsonCilla Robinson

Clayton Utz Partner , Sydney T +61 2 9353 4624

Cilla Robinson is the go-to workplace lawyer for businesses involved in industrial unrest, transformation, disruption, takeovers, mergers, acquisitions, reconstructions, offshoring and outsourcing.

She works closely with clients to manage their workforces in what are often very fluid and potentially volatile situations, so they can develop robust industrial strategies, unlock the value in their core businesses and achieve new growth.

Whether they are HR business partners, legal counsel, executives, business managers, CEOs/MDs or company boards, Cilla's clients particularly appreciate her consistently commercial approach and ability to understand their business strategy, navigate complex legal issues and then explain them in an accessible and concise manner.

Although her major focus is on business transformation, industrial relations strategy/enterprise bargaining and discrimination law, Cilla advises on all aspects of industrial relations and employment law, workplace investigations, employment aspects of corporate transactions and workplace, health and safety. She also runs employment litigation in State and Federal Courts, Commissions and Tribunals.

Cilla has broad industry experience and works with both private and public sector clients.

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Workplace Relations, Employment and Safety

Business acquisition and transformation

  • Macquarie Group: Cilla has advised on the transfer of business issues involved in numerous acquisitions and associated management of collective industrial arrangements. She worked closely with the Macquarie Legal and HR teams in navigating the complex transfer of employees involved in the Macquarie acquisition of the Esanda business from ANZ. The  desire to minimise the contamination of ANZ terms to Macquarie's existing workforce necessitated an involved people strategy to ensure union and staff unrest did not derail the $8.2 billion transaction.
  • Perpetual Limited: Cilla has advised Perpetual in respect of the significant transformation of its workforce and related employment and industrial issues from 2012 to date. This involved workforce planning and negotiation with outsource companies and resultant employee transfers, detailed analysis of numerous industrial instruments (enterprise awards and agreements, modern awards and individual contracts), policies and procedures to ensure that the transformation process complies with applicable legislation and that the plethora of legal risks involved in the retrenchment of numerous staff were minimised.

    Cilla also advised Perpetual regarding the $214 million acquisition of the Trust Company and related employee transfer issues. This included advice regarding industrial instruments, redundancy selection and management of retrenchment procedures, employee engagement and development of an employee communications strategy.
  • Voestalpine VAE GmbH (VAE): Cilla advised VAE with respect to all employee-related aspects of  the purchase of the Bathurst Rail Fabrication Centre (BRFC) from Rail Corporation of NSW and Sydney Trains. This included due diligence, advice regarding transfer of a collective industrial instrument and local terms agreed between the vendor and multiple unions, transfer of business obligations, communications with transferring BRFC staff, assessment of employee entitlements, drafting letters of offer, assessment of employee terms and conditions to ensure comparability, advice regarding staff transition packages and transfer of novated leases, advice regarding the assignment of non-transferring staff, review and amendment of MD contract of employment, on-boarding of transferring staff and advice regarding management of staff morale and industrial disputation.
  • Teradata Australia (Pty Ltd): Cilla advised Teradata regarding the employee issues involved in the global divestment of its marketing applications business for US$90 million. Cilla worked closely with local and global Teradata HR and Legal staff as well as Teradata's US lawyers to manage all aspects of the transfer of Teradata staff to US-based Marlin Equity Partners in an abridged timeframe.
  • Infosys Technologies Ltd: Cilla advises Infosys on offshoring and outsourcing projects with a view to minimising industrial disputation and employee-related legal issues arising out of the transfer of staff from vendors to Infosys in both private and public sector deals. Cilla assists Infosys in understanding local labour laws and the challenges of managing blended workforces, specifically the people issues that can arise when local work practices and cultures do not necessarily align with the outsource provider.
  • TJX Companies, Inc: Cilla advised TJX on the employee issues involved in the acquisition of Fashion Factory Outlets (Trade Secret) Pty Limited. In addition to undertaking a detailed employment law due diligence, Cilla and the TJX Global HR team worked together to ensure the smooth transfer of staff from FFO to TJX, developed a suite of TJX policy documents for their new Australian operations and drafted template staff and executive employment agreements and restraints of trade.
  • NSW Health: Cilla provided employment and industrial relations advice associated with the redevelopment of the Newcastle Mater and James Fletcher Mental Hospital sites.  The redevelopment was undertaken as a PPP, with the operator responsible for the management of state employees for the duration of a concession period. Consideration of employee transfers, engagement of staff and unions and minimisation of industrial disputation was key to the successful redevelopment.
  • NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation: Cilla advised on interaction of State and Federal legislative and industrial instruments relevant to staff transfers in a public to private outsourcing arrangement.

Industrial relations

  • Teradata Australia Pty Ltd: Cilla has advised and appeared for Teradata in challenging negotiations with unions, including Professionals Australia (formerly APESMA) with respect to a Majority Support Determination, Application to Terminate an Enterprise Agreement, several Union logs of claims and an Application for a Protected Action Ballot order.
  • University of Sydney: The higher education sector has a myriad of complex staffing issues and involves detailed and industry specific employment terms. Cilla is advising the University of Sydney on its 2017 round of enterprise bargaining. She is working closely with the University's bargaining team to ensure an outcome that minimises industrial unrest and reaches a mutually satisfactory result for the University, its academic staff and the industrial organisations representing them.
  • Stramit Building Products: Cilla advised and appeared on behalf of Stramit on all industrial and employment matters for many years.  She was involved in the development of two successive IR strategies that saw Stramit Building Products move from a highly unionised workforce with union collective agreements at most sites, to a workforce largely employed pursuant to non-union collective agreements and/or individual statutory agreements.  Cilla also provided tailored enterprise bargaining training to several Stramit business managers.
  • University of New England: Working closely with the HR and Executive teams at UNE, Cilla provided strategic advice regarding enterprise bargaining strategy for the University's academic staff. She also provided advice on academic remuneration structure and assisted with an investigation into the respective roles of the Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor.
  • Toll Group: Cilla advised the Toll Group on IR strategy and the management of industrial disputation in State and Federal Commissions for many years. Cilla has a depth of experience in the transport industry and advised and appeared in relation to numerous industrial disputes, unfair dismissals, drafting, negotiation and approval of heads of agreements, enterprise agreements and awards for Toll Logistics, Toll In2store, Toll Liquids, Toll Priority, Toll SPD, Toll Personnel, Tollfast, Toll Resources and Toll Aviation. Cilla also advised on Chain of Responsibility legislation and general WHS advice.
  • Linfox: Cilla provided request strategic IR advice and advocacy for numerous Linfox companies. She regularly appeared in industrial disputes, collective bargaining and transport industry representation in the making of transport industry common rule awards.  
  • Australian Federal Police: Cilla advised on interlocutory and substantive proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia, defending the client against claims made by the CPSU regarding Freedom of Association issues.
  • Perpetual Limited: Cilla has advises Perpetual on several industrial matters, for example the termination of an enterprise agreement.
  • NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation: Familiar with NSW public sector employment issues, Cilla advised on the complex interaction of state industrial instruments, Conditions Award, Salaries Award, Government Sector Employment Act Superannuation Act etc) of staff in transfer of business scenarios.
  • Fair Work Building and Construction: Cilla was instructed to prosecute the CFMEU and union organisers and officials for breaches of the Fair Work Act 2009.
  • Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Cilla advised regarding the renegotiation of a collective industrial agreement and associated industrial strategy and drafting of the collective agreement.
  • Inghams Enterprises: provided advice regarding employment and industrial issues involved in office relocation.
  • CIMIC Group Limited: with strong experience and expertise in the construction industry, Cilla advised on industrial disputation, Construction Industry Code compliance and developed template employment contracts for staff.

Diversity and discrimination

  • Southern Cross Dental: Cilla advised and appeared in unfair dismissal and general protections proceedings relating to claims of race and disability discrimination. The factual matrix of the matter was quite complex as it also involved a workers compensation and common law personal injury claim and visa status issues. Despite the many and varied nature of the claims the matter was resolved to the satisfaction of the parties without protracted litigation or monetary compensation. 
  • Perpetual Limited: Cilla and her instructing Perpetual HR BP worked together to reach an excellent commercial outcome in discrimination proceedings filed in the Australian Human Rights Commission. Cilla also advises Perpetual on any diversity and discrimination matters that arise. In addition to providing advice on discrimination, harassment and bullying policies and training she has assisted Perpetual in developing its progressive Flexibility Program, for which it won Best Workplace Flexibility Program in the 2016 Australian HR Awards.
  • RailCorp: Cilla provided advice and appeared for RailCorp in sex/race discrimination proceedings and NSW Anti-Discrimination Board and concurrent unfair dismissal proceedings in the Fair Work Commission.
  • Australian Federal Police: Cilla advised on discrimination claims and workplace investigations into allegations of harassment and discrimination. 
  • Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations: Cilla advised DEEWR in relation to Federal race discrimination proceedings.
  • Ely Lilly Australia: Cilla has investigated workplace disputes involving allegations of discrimination and bullying.
  • Malaysian High Commission: Cilla investigated and advised on alleged race and sex discrimination complaint and bullying complaint. A negotiated and managed resolution of the complaint and related cessation of WorkCover issues were achieved swiftly and with a minimum of disruption to the tight-knit workforce.
  • Singtel Optus: Cilla worked closely with Optus Legal and HR staff with respect to a sex discrimination, harassment and victimisation complaint in the Australian Human Rights Commission.
  • Cerebos: Cilla has undertaken workplace investigations for Cerebos into allegations of harassment and bullying by staff and advice regarding best practice response to such matters.

Employment law

  • Perpetual Limited: Cilla advises and appears on behalf of Perpetual for all matters relating to its staff. In addition to providing day-to-day employment advice on topics such as restraint of trade, adverse action, HR management and disciplinary matters, she provides discrimination and WHS advice, conducts workplace investigations and develops, assists with Board papers, advises on long- and short-term incentive structures, and delivers training to the Perpetual People & Culture team on a regular basis.
  • Facebook Inc: Cilla provides day-to-day employment advice to Facebook in relation to a range of staff issues, workers compensation, policy and development of employment templates.
  • TransGrid: Working with both HR and legal staff, Cilla advises regarding general employment and industrial matters, and advice regarding the privatisation of the electricity distribution networks.
  • NBN Co: Cilla provides ongoing employment and industrial advice regarding a range of matters. She recently advised on the management of liability with respect to a divisional restructure. This included advice regarding consultation, employee communications, redundancies, restraints of trade and confidentiality obligations.
  • Western Sydney University: working with legal and HR staff, Cilla has advised on workplace restructure; underpayment claims and accessorial liability of staff regarding same; policy reviews and various general protections and employment disputes.
  • Singtel Optus: Cilla advised and appeared in general protections proceedings in the Fair Work Commission.
  • CBA: Cilla has provided the Bank with advice regarding the enforcement of post-employment restraints and negotiation of such matters with former staff members.
  • KONE Inc: Cilla undertook a bullying investigation and provided employment law advice regarding a range of matters.
  • 3M: Cilla advised on internal workplace investigation regarding employee fraud and misconduct and appeared in subsequent adverse action proceedings in the Fair Work Commission.
  • Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Cilla conducted workplace investigation into employee misconduct and bullying claims.
  • Roads & Maritime Services (formerly NSW RTA): Cilla undertook misconduct investigations and advised on disciplinary proceedings. She advised on the resolution of a broadscale underpayment of wages claim.
  • DEXUS Group: Cilla advised and appeared in relation to a range of employee-related matters including award classification, unfair dismissals and workplace investigations. She also developed and delivered tailored training regarding employment issues in sale of business scenarios, workplace investigation and adverse action claims, as well as discrimination, harassment and bullying training, delivered to the entire DEXUS workforce.
  • Sydney Opera House Trust: Cilla undertook WHS investigation and provided advice regarding management of associated safety risks and liability.
  • ZF Friedrichshafen AG: Cilla provided advice regarding the industrial and employee issues involved in the closure of ZF's Australian operations.

See Workplace Relations, Employment and Safety


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