Employment Law

The Employment Law Team at Carson McDowell is widely recognised as one of the leading employment teams in Northern Ireland. Our clients, who span the private, public and voluntary sectors, tell us they value the quality and speed of our technical advice and our ability to provide strategic solutions which balance legal and commercial issues. Above all, they value the importance we place on investing time in getting to know our client’s business and building on personal relationships.

What we do:

  • Drafting and advising on all aspects of the employment contract and associated employment policies including staff handbooks
  • Employment litigation, spanning the defence and representation of employers at Industrial and Fair Employment Tribunals, as well as dealing with High Court breach of contract claims and injunctions
  • Employment aspects of corporate restructuring, outsourcing and mergers
  • Equality and fair employment advice, ranging from compliance with Northern Ireland’s unique equality legislation to defending equality claims
  • Advising on the handling of grievance and other workplace investigations
  • Industrial relations and trade union matters
  • Performance- advising on performance, managing absence and misconduct
  • Restrictive covenants and team moves
  • Redundancy, reorganisations and changes to terms and conditions of employment
  • Handling senior executive terminations, including drafting and negotiating compromise agreements
  • TUPE
  • Whistleblowing
  • Advising on data protection, employment records and employee monitoring
  • Bespoke training, seminars and workshops on a wide range of employment issues

At Carson McDowell LLP, ‘top-class employment lawyer’ Rachel Penny (‘she has a great attitude’) acted alongside Leona Rankin for Santander UK in a constructive dismissal case. Orlagh O’Neill heads the practice, and specialises in advising schools and colleges on governance and employment matters.

What Others Say About Us

Chambers and Partners UK 2018

What the team is known for Market-leading employment team that provides a full and commercial service to an impressive clientele. Renowned for the strength of both its contentious and non-contentious work. Acts for regional and multinational clients from a range of sectors, including manufacturing, retail and travel.

Strengths One source is "very happy with the service received," with "good accessibility being a key positive factor."

Work highlights Provided employment law advice to Royal Mail in Northern Ireland, recently defending claims of unfair dismissal, breach of contract and sexual harassment.

Defended a claim of race discrimination on behalf of Camden Group.

Significant clients Santander, Translink, British Medical Association, Independent News & Media, Wright Group.

Notable practitioners

Head of department Orlagh O'Neill represents private and public sector clients in contentious employment matters. Sources say she "is always very clear with her advice" and "takes the time to find a solution that works."

Rachel Penny is experienced in a range of employment law matters, including disputes, TUPE, outsourcing and change programmes. She is described by commentators as "very experienced, efficient and pragmatic" and an "absolutely fantastic lawyer."

​Chambers and Partners UK 2017

What the team is known for

Market-leading employment team that provides a full and commercial service to an impressive clientele. Renowned for the strength of both its contentious and non-contentious work.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"They are very easy to do business with and, in my view, the best in their field"

"The team as a whole are collaborative, precise and always think from our perspective."

Work highlights Advised Celesio in relation to the acquisition of the majority of UDG's Irish wholesale and supply chain businesses.

Notable practitioners

Sources say Orlagh O'Neill is "the single most impressive employment lawyer in Northern Ireland," stating that she is "completely unflappable," "commercially aware" and has a "wealth of knowledge." She heads the practice and specialises in representing significant public and private sector clients in tribunal conflicts.

Rachel Penny focuses on handling corporate employment matters, including TUPE and is described as "highly intelligent and a clear and lucid thinker, with a very pleasant and client-friendly manner."

Significant clients Royal Mail, Santander, Vinci Energies, Translink, Wright Group.

The Legal 500 2016

What the team is known for

Strong team that is able to provide full-service employment advice to Northern Ireland public sector and corporate employers. Regularly advises clients on employment disputes.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"This is the number one law firm for me, with a very responsive team who provide clear and easy-to-understand advice."

"The lawyers take the time to really learn our business, its work and structure, which allows them to give us tactical advice."

Work highlights

Defended the Royal Mail Group against various tribunals claims including allegations of unfair dismissal, and disability and sex discrimination.

Represented Radius in an application for recognition at one of its Northern Irish sites by Unite the Union.

Notable practitioners

Orlagh O'Neill provides employment advice to a wide range of clients including public bodies, and is particularly strong in contentious employment matters. Clients describe her as "authoritative, highly knowledgeable, detailed and very accessible."

Rachel Penny is well versed in corporate and commercial employment issues, dealing regularly with TUPE matters. Sources praise Penny for her ability to "explain things well, and give a well-rounded approach to the problem."