Laura joined Birketts in September 2018 as a Trainee Solicitor and qualified as a Solicitor into the Employment Team in September 2020. In addition to spending a year training with the Employment Team, Laura also gained experience in our Charities and not-for profit team, Corporate Team and Employee Incentives Team. Laura provides specialist employment advice to employees as well as a broad range of employer clients including large companies, schools, start-ups, private and public sector organisations, and charities.
Contract and policy audits
Laura regularly drafts template and bespoke contracts of employment for junior and senior level employees, apprenticeship agreements, directors’ service agreements and consultancy agreements. She provides advice on the enforceability of restrictive covenants at the outset and upon termination of the employment relationship.
Following legislative changes to the requirements for all employment contracts and consultancy agreements, including IR35 & off-payroll working, Laura is regularly instructed to review and update existing contracts to ensure that they are legally compliant. When undertaking projects to harmonise / vary terms and conditions, Laura incorporates legal and employee-relations advice to maximise efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Laura also frequently drafts or reviews employment policies (including family leave and data protection policies) to ensure that they are legally compliant, fit for purpose, and reflect the organisations’ culture and values.
Strategic and people advice for employers
Laura supports HR professionals in finding pragmatic resolutions to issues that may arise during the course of employment. This includes guidance on sickness absence, disciplinary and grievance procedure and employee rights such as holiday pay, sick pay, working time, and all types of family leave (including maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave and pay). She also advises on exiting individuals from businesses including guidance on without prejudice discussions, drafting and negotiating the terms of Settlement Agreements and COT3 Agreements.
Large scale projects
In partnership with Catherine Johnson and Sonya O'Reilly, Laura regularly assists with business restructuring, employee relocation, and individual and collective redundancy projects, including advising on the business case and planning the information and consultation stages. Laura also has experience in running bulk Settlement Agreement projects for large businesses.
Employment Tribunal claims
Laura has substantial experience handling claims made to the Employment Tribunal, including claims for unfair and wrongful dismissal, breach of contract, whistleblowing, harassment, discrimination (including failure to make reasonable adjustments), unlawful deduction from wages, trade union-related cases, failure to inform and consult, and equal pay claims.
She provides strategic advice to employers from the ACAS early conciliation stage through to full hearing, including preparing the Respondent’s defence (ET3 Grounds of Resistance). She represents Respondents / Employers throughout proceedings and provides commercial guidance on the merits of the claim. As an added-value, she uses our HighQ Dataroom portal to store and share information with clients seamlessly.
Settlement agreements for employees
Laura regularly provides remote and in person independent legal advice to individuals being asked to sign Settlement Agreements. Having trained with the Employee Incentives Team, she is experienced in dealing with share option issues on exit.
Education, local government and not-for profit sectors
Laura has particular experience advising Independent Schools and Public Authorities: she regularly provides strategic employment advice tailored to these sectors.
As part of the firm-wide charities and social enterprise group, and having trained with Liz Brownsell in our Charities and not-for profit team, Laura is familiar with the safeguarding, governance, regulatory and reputational issues that trustees / charities regularly face when dealing with employee and volunteer issues.
Laura is based in our Ipswich office.