Ben Keenan | Senior Associate | Brisbane

  • Employment Industrial Relations & Safety
  • Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Tel 61 7 3001 9268Mob 0400 710 385Email

Ben is a Senior Associate in the Employment, Industrial Relations and Safety team at ClarkeKann. He has more than 9 years’ experience advising and acting for employers in both the public and private sector across industries including local government, commercial construction, oil and gas, manufacturing, professional services, aged care and medical services.

Ben has a special interest in the application and interpretation of the Commonwealth, State and Territory building codes as they regulate the industrial arrangements of building industry participants who perform government funded building work and has provided detailed advice to some of the largest commercial construction companies in Australia regarding compliance with the Building Code 2013 and the Code for the Tendering and Performance of Building Work 2016.

In addition to his building code expertise, Ben has a depth of experience in advising employers on all aspects of employment, industrial relations and work health and safety law.


Industrial Relations

  • Acting for a national construction company in the Federal Court in response to two applications brought against it by the CFMEU for alleged breaches of the company’s QLD/NT enterprise agreement.

  • Providing ongoing advice to a large aged care provider regarding various disputes raised by the QNMU. Advised on issues including the interpretation and application of disputed clauses in the provider’s enterprise agreement and applicable modern awards, strategies for responding to and liaising with the QNMU, the drafting of internal policies and procedures to address operational issues raised by the disputes.

  • Advising and representing a national construction company on its response to a campaign of rolling industrial action taken by the CFMEU across a number of its Queensland sites. Liaising with the ABCC throughout its investigation into the industrial action and the subsequent legal proceedings the regulator commenced against the CFMEU in the Federal Court.

Employment Law

  • Advising on and assisting an international manufacturing and import business with a restructure of their Australian operations. Managing the termination of several senior managers on performance and redundancy grounds, advising on the interpretation and application of various modern awards to the employer’s Australian staff and facilitating job share arrangements as part of a restructure of the sales team.

  • Undertaking a 3 month secondment with a transport company servicing the oil and gas industry in Queensland following the dismissal of the company’s human resources manager. During the course of the secondment, Ben was responsible for completing an overhaul of the company’s entire human resources management system, from drafting new template employment contracts and policies and procedures to working with the operations manager to formulate a new roster for the company’s drivers that complied with heavy vehicle fatigue management regulations. Ben also oversaw a restructure of the workforce that resulted in multiple redundancies.

  • Providing advice to a group of companies in the aged care industry on the optimal structure for their business to reduce its workers’ compensation premiums. This process involved liaising with WorkCover Queensland regarding a proposed labour hire arrangement between group entities and successfully seeking a review of WorkCover’s decision at first instance not to recognise the employing entity as a genuine labour hire entity.

Building Codes

  • Advising and acting for a national commercial construction company on its response to a show cause notice issued by the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) alleging breaches of the Building Code 2013 (Code 2013) and the subsequent Ministerial sanction process, including:

    • collating and considering many volumes of documentary and witness evidence regarding the incidents giving rise to the alleged breaches of Code 2013;

    • drafting detailed submissions in response to the ABCC’s show cause notice disputing the alleged breaches of Code 2013;

    • assisting the company to develop a management strategy designed to educate staff nationwide on the requirements of Code 2013 and monitor and enforce code compliance at the site level;

    • advising on strategy for liaising with the ABCC and the office of the Minister for Employment;

    • drafting detailed submissions in response to the Minister’s proposal to impose an exclusion sanction upon the company; and

    • advising on the company’s options and prospects of contesting the final decision of the Minister.

  • Providing detailed advice to another national construction company on its obligations to include model clauses in all advertising materials, subcontracts and purchase orders issued by the company on projects to which the Code for the Tendering and Performance of Building Work 2016 (Code 2016) and any remaining State or Territory government building or procurement codes apply. The advice included the preparation of a guide to be used by all contract administrators within the company when preparing materials for issue on code covered projects.

  • Providing ongoing advice to a third national construction company on strategies for managing negotiations with the CFMEU for a Code 2016 compliant enterprise agreement, including how to identify non-Code-2016-compliant clauses in the union’s pattern agreement, bargaining strategies for overcoming resistance to the removal or amendment of non-compliant clauses, keeping employees informed of the progress of negotiations and whether the company could implement pay rises for employees to be covered by the new agreement whilst negotiations remained on foot without breaching the unregistered agreement prohibitions in Codes 2013 and 2016.

Work Health and Safety

  • Acting for a government owned corporation (GOC) conducting a bulk water supply business in respect of prosecutions by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) in respect of two separate fatalities that occurred at dams managed by the GOC.

  • Drafting detailed template guides for use by another GOC operating a bulk water supply business in Queensland in respect of three common works scenarios undertaken by their asset management team that outlined the GOC’s duties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld), the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (Qld) and multiple applicable codes of practice.

  • Drafting and advising another international manufacturing and import business on a work health and safety (WHS) management system for its Australian operations. Working closely with the client, Ben drafted a suite of WHS documents, including a WHS policy and management plan, as well as safe operating procedures for a number of items of powered mobile plant used in the company’s warehouses. Ben also delivered WHS training materials for use in the company’s site induction processes.



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