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Tim McDonald



+61 2 9234 4576

Tim practises in employment and industrial law, work health and safety, discrimination, bullying and harassment, management of injured workers and termination of employment.


Over the last 20 years, Tim has advised and represented private and public sector employers from a broad range of industries, such as insurance, security, clubs, hospitality, retail, health, manufacturing, clerical, transport and logistics, real estate, building and construction, schools and higher education. These clients include some of Australia’s largest companies.

Tim was previously the Senior Adviser to the Commonwealth Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. Prior to this role, he was the Director – Employment Relations of the Employer’s Federation, a peak council, in which he acted in many landmark industrial cases and projects.

Tim is a Law Society of NSW Accredited Specialist in Employment and Industrial Law. Tim has served on numerous committees including the Executive Committee of the Industrial Relations Society, the Law Society’s Specialist Accreditation Committee for Employment and Industrial Law, the Workplace Relations Policy Committee of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Legal Policy Committee of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and as a Director of the Building and Construction Industry Long Service Leave Corporation.


Tim’s experience includes:

  • Acting for the University of Technology, Sydney in a range of unfair dismissal, general protections, discrimination and other actions
  • Acting for CSR in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission ('NSWIRC') regarding the termination of contracts of carriage
  • Acting for QUBE Logistics to stop industrial action on the waterfront
  • Acting for Coles in various matters in the NSWIRC relating to claims for reinstatement of injured workers, including before the Full Bench in Hickey v Coles Group Supply Chain Limited [2012] NSWIRC 124
  • Acting for the security industry in Full Bench proceedings regarding rostering practices and in relation to whether a low paid authorisation should issue
  • Appearing as lead advocate in major cases before Full Benches of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (NSWIRC) establishing important principles and conditions for the operation of the State system (e.g. Secure Employment Test Case, Equal Remuneration Principle and the Pay Equity Inquiry, State Part-Time Work, Personal / Carers Leave Case, State Working Hours Case, State Wage Cases)
  • Acting for Ambulance NSW in the Court of Appeal in a claim by Ms Chapman-Davis as to whether a ‘paramedic’ should be considered to be a ‘status’ or an ‘occupation’
  • Advising Ausgrid regarding inquiry processes and Independent Commission Against Corruption (‘ICAC’) issues
  • Advising Centrelink on enterprise bargaining and interpretation of their agreements
  • Advising church groups on child protection issues when working with children
  • Negotiating a first award with PSA for the Independent Transport Safety Regulator to standardise employment arrangements and preserve entitlements for transferred employees
  • Negotiating and drafting workplace agreements, e.g. Sydney Olympic Games and the construction of the M7 Motorway
  • Advising various local councils on workplace issues, and dealing with unfair dismissal claims, including for Campbelltown, Gosford, Gilgandra and Northern Beaches
  • Acting for Fairfax Media in significant restructuring, workplace change and transmission of business issues
  • Drafting and advising on arrangements with independent contractors, including Combined Insurance on issues arising from the Trifunovski litigation in the Federal and High Court
  • Representing fast food clients in award modernisation matters in Fair Work Commission, including: McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut and Hungry Jacks
  • Acting for the Restaurant and Catering Association the Hotel, Motel and Accommodation Association, and Clubs Australia in relation to award structures and penalty rates
  • Acting for Department of Communities and Justice (Corrective Services) in a multi-million dollar sexual harassment claim in Australian Human Rights Commission (‘AHRC’)
  • Assisting various insurance companies in relation to reviewing their contracts and annualised salary arrangements to comply with changes to the Banking, Finance and Insurance Industry Award
  • Advising Gosford City Council regarding workplace surveillance and executive redundancy issues
  • Assisting Canterbury Council to manage its injured workers
  • Advising on discrimination, adverse action, harassment, privacy and bullying issues, including successfully representing the NSW Department of Education in various complaints of discrimination 
  • Dealing with the Fair Work Ombudsman in various prosecutions
  • Assisting with enterprise bargaining issues, including representing MSS in appellate proceedings before a Full Bench of Fair Work Commission and successfully obtaining a decision on the scope of bargaining and what groups can be covered by an enterprise agreement.
  • Successfully resolved dozens of discrimination matters for the Department of Education in the employment context and via a variety of forums including informal and formal mediation and conciliation and through the Anti-Discrimination Board, NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal ('NCAT') and the AHRC 
  • Acting in restraint of trade cases in the Supreme Court, particularly in the real estate and medical industries
  • Acting in the Red Bull restraint of trade case
  • Assisting registered organisations with changes to rules and compliance issues, including Farmers, Clubs, Screen Producers and Real Estate employers
  • Acting for medical practices nationally in a claim for a low-paid authorisation for multi-employer bargaining for nurses
  • Acting for Hungry Jack’s in relation to enterprise bargaining and the approval of its agreements before a Full Bench
  • Acting for Secom Security in appellant proceedings in relation to the approval of its enterprise agreement
  • Acting for the Supreme Court Registry in successfully defending allegations of discrimination in relation to the application of filing fees before NCAT.


  • Acting in Court of Criminal Appeal for Ceerose in the Attorney-General’s Appeal in relation to the level of penalties imposed in WHS prosecutions in NSW
  • Advising re WHS issues during the construction of Barangaroo, including: incident management and associated industrial issues; and dealing with SafeWork notices, including applications to set aside some notices in the NSWIRC
  • Briefing officers and Boards on WHS obligations e.g. Northern Sydney Local Health District and Macquarie University
  • Training to South Western Sydney Local Health District re appropriate workplace behaviours
  • Advising a large electrical contractor and its officers in WorkCover and NSW Police investigations when an employee was fatally injured in an electrical explosion on a high-profile NSW Government building – the investigation was sensitive and complex given uncertainty regarding the cause of the explosion and the role of the various stakeholders
  • Representing NRL Rugby League Club in a WorkCover investigation into an electrocution – we provided representation at WorkCover interviews and advised on responses to WorkCover statutory notices; no WorkCover prosecution was commenced
  • Assisting the Australian Institute of Company Directors on due diligence obligations.


Publication and Papers
  • The HR Law Masterclass – Managing difficult employees
  • The Legal Framework for Employment and Workplace Relations in the Public Sector
  • The Local Government Employment Law Conference
  • The Annual Industrial Relations Conference
  • The Annual Employment Law Conference – Gold Coast
  • School Law Conference
  • Education Leaders Conference
  • Clubs Australia Employment Law Conference
  • Webinars on Social Media and the Law
  • Appearing on Real Estate TV
  • Publishing a fortnightly client newsletter
  • Training frontline managers across NSW Health.
Awards / Accolades

Tim received the Lawyers Monthly Legal Award for Employment and Industrial Lawyer of the Year (Australia) in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.



  • Bachelor of Laws, 1995, University of Technology Sydney
  • Bachelor of Arts, 1987, University of New South Wales
  • Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice

Specialist Accreditations

  • Accredited Specialist in Employment and Industrial Law


  • Industrial Relations Society of New South Wales
  • Law Society of New South Wales
  • Law Society Specialist Accreditation Employment & Industrial Law Advisory Committee