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Team Members

Gemma Sharp

Special Counsel
Gemma brings over 10 years’ experience providing advice and representation to employers on employment, industrial discrimination and health and safety matters.

As a special counsel in Cooper Grace Ward’s workplace relations and safety team, Gemma brings over 10 years’ experience providing advice and representation to employers on employment, industrial discrimination and health and safety matters.

Gemma advises a range of clients across various industries, including retail, finance, early childhood and education, transport, and religious organisations, on issues such as compliance and duties under workplace health and safety legislation; unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment; the operation of employment contracts and restraint of trade provisions; independent contractor and employee distinctions; award and enterprise agreement applicability and provisions; dismissal risks and strategies; management of ill and injured employees; workers’ compensation claims; and general protections claims.

Having worked in both private practice and in-house roles, she understands the importance of providing practical commercial legal solutions for businesses.

In addition to her workplace relations and safety work, Gemma also advises religious organisations on complex church matters, and early childhood and educational institutions on education and child safety related matters and privacy law.

  • Juris Doctor of Laws – Bond University
  • Bachelor of Business- RMIT
  • Solicitor – Supreme Court of Queensland.

Industrial relations and employment relations

  • Advising about general employment obligations for award and award free employees to small and large commercial organisations.
  • Conducting workplace investigations to investigate claims of bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment.
  • Representing clients in the Fair Work Commission for unfair dismissal and general protections claims.
  • Representing clients in the Fair Work Commission for applications to terminate enterprise agreements and to vary Modern Awards.
  • Drafting enterprise agreements and assisting throughout negotiation process.
  • Drafting employment contracts, policies, enterprise agreements, individual flexibility agreements and relevant deeds.
  • Providing training to organisations and their employees on general employment related matters

Education and early childhood

  • Advising regarding Education and Care Service National Law and assisting in incident investigations for child safety matters.
  • Considering and assisting institutions with mandatory reporting obligations in early childhood education.
  • Undertaking workplace investigations and preparing incident investigations reports.
  • Providing advice to education and early childhood organsiations regarding privacy law obligations including investigation and assessment of notifiable data breaches.

Religious organisations

  • Conducting investigations in relation to conduct of clergy and resolving disputes within congregations.
  • Establishing and reviewing grievance mechanisms for incorporated and unincorporated congregations.
  • Drafting stipend arrangements for clergy and providing legal advice in relation to call entitlements.
  • Advising letters patent organisations on complex legal matters, including, equitable property disputes and church structures in manner that is consistent with the Church and its Mission.

Areas of Expertise


Can employers require an employee to work on a public holiday?

In a major decision regarding the application of the public holiday provisions of the Fair Work Act, the Full Federal Court has found that terms of employment that require employees to work on a public holiday will not be consistent with the National Employment Standards. This is the case even in circumstances where an employer’s operations are conducted over 365 days per year and an employee’s remuneration includes compensation for the requirement to work on those days.

Medical cannabis in the workplace – risks and challenges for employers

With an increasing number of employees taking prescribed medical cannabis in the workplace, it is important for employers to understand their legal obligations when managing these employees.

Recent unfair dismissal case shines light on requirements for ‘genuine redundancy’

A recent decision of the Fair Work Commission serves as a timely reminder of the requirements that must be followed when terminating an employee by way of redundancy.