Our Team

Michael Byrnes

Employ­ment, Work­place Health and Safety

I am a work­place rela­tions lawyer with over 20 years’ expe­ri­ence in assist­ing clients nav­i­gate employ­ment, dis­crim­i­na­tion and work health and safe­ty issues. I advise on all aspects of the employ­ment rela­tion­ship includ­ing employ­ment con­tracts, mod­ern awards and enter­prise agree­ments, anti-dis­­crim­i­­na­­tion and diver­si­ty, sex­u­al harass­ment, bully­ing, per­for­mance and con­duct, man­ag­ing ill­ness and injury, indus­tri­al dis­putes, unfair dis­missal, adverse action/​general pro­tec­tions, con­fi­den­tial infor­ma­tion, post-employ­ment restraints and WHS

I am an expe­ri­enced advo­cate, under­take com­plex work­place inves­ti­ga­tions and deliv­er bespoke train­ing on employ­ment law issues (includ­ing at board level).

I am a co-author of the pub­li­ca­tions Anno­tat­ed Fair Work Act & Relat­ed Leg­is­la­tion’ and Fair Work: A user-friend­ly guide’. As well as reg­u­lar­ly pre­sent­ing at sem­i­nars and con­fer­ences, I am fre­quent­ly called upon for expert opin­ion in the media. I have appeared on var­i­ous radio seg­ments and been quot­ed in pub­li­ca­tions includ­ing The Aus­tralian Finan­cial Review, The Age, ABC News, Lawyers Week­ly, Work­place Express, OHS Alert, Smart­Com­pa­ny and InThe­Black on work­place rela­tions and WHS law issues.


Since join­ing Swaab in 2018 I have act­ed on a broad range of mat­ters including:

  • Advis­ing a com­pa­ny in the food pro­duc­tion indus­try on right of entry issues. 
  • Advis­ing a large clean­ing com­pa­ny on work­place arrangements. 
  • Advis­ing a high pro­file media com­pa­ny on var­i­ous employ­ment law matters.
  • Advis­ing the board of a promi­nent gov­ern­ment agency on WHS issues relat­ing to man­age­ment of prin­ci­pal contractors.
  • Act­ing for a list­ed com­pa­ny on the defence of a claim from a for­mer employ­ee in the Supreme Court.
  • Act­ing for a large internet/​online com­pa­ny in defence of var­i­ous employ­ee claims in the AHRC and FWC
  • Advis­ing and act­ing for an equip­ment com­pa­ny on var­i­ous employ­ment issues includ­ing work­place sur­veil­lance and post-employ­ment conduct. 
  • Review­ing and draft­ing suites of employ­ment con­tracts for var­i­ous clients.
  • Review­ing and draft­ing inde­pen­dent con­trac­tor agree­ments for var­i­ous clients. 
  • Strate­gic work­place rela­tions advice for var­i­ous clients.


  • Employment Law
  • Workplace Relations
  • Discrimination
  • Work Health and Safety (including Coronial Inquests)

Roles, membership and education

  • Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours) (University of Technology, Sydney) 1994
  • Bachelor of Business (University of Technology, Sydney) 1994
  • Member of the Law Society of NSW
  • Member of the Australian Human Resources Institute
  • Member of the NSW Industrial Relations Society
  • Member of the Law Society of NSW Employment Law Committee


Read more Publications by Michael Byrnes

In the News

Read more News Articles by Michael Byrnes