"She leaves no stone unturned in seeking the best possible outcome." "Rebecca's knowledge and expertise in her field is exceptional."
(Chambers & Partners)
Rebecca is a Partner and Head of Employment in our Birmingham office. She has 20 years’ experience in advising on employment law, having specialised in this area since she qualified.
Rebecca advises predominantly corporate clients on all aspects of contentious and non-contentious employment law, including discrimination, executive terminations, TUPE, business reorganisations, trade union issues, employment contracts, policies and procedures, dismissals and disciplinary/grievance procedures.
She has substantial experience of handling a wide range of employment disputes, both in the tribunal and courts, and is also an effective presenter of training on employment and HR matters.
Rebecca gained a First Class Business degree at Cardiff University before qualifying as a solicitor at Eversheds in 1999. She built her career with Gowling WLG, McGrigors and Shoosmiths before joining Freeths in 2010 as a Partner.
Rebecca is listed as a Recommended Lawyer in the Legal 500 (2020 edition) and is ranked in Chambers (2020 edition) as a Leading Individual.
- Successfully defending a rail company in a tribunal claim brought on behalf of 600 employees alleging a failure to inform and consult under TUPE. Rebecca disposed of the case and a potential liability of £3.5 million by successfully arguing that the tribunal did not have jurisdiction to hear the claim.
- Assisting a national retailer to implement a new shift pattern in order to achieve greater efficiencies. Rebecca’s tactical and strategic advice brought about the successful implementation of the contract variation and avoided the risk of potential constructive dismissal and breach of contract claims against the company.
- Successfully obtaining High Court interim injunctive relief to prevent a former employee from moving £4 million worth of business to a competitor. Rebecca’s robust approach led to an out of court settlement, with the former employee agreeing to abide by his 12 month restrictive covenants and transfer his shareholding to the company for no consideration, and meant that the significant time and expense of a full trial was avoided.
- Providing advice with regard to the effective management of recurrent issues including putting together a package of policies and procedures, delivering management training in equality issues and providing an employment law helpline for a large retailer with limited central HR support.
Drinks, Hospitality & Leisure
Rebecca has used her extensive HR knowledge and experience to benefit a variety of clients in the hospitality sector. Her professional and strategic approach has helped companies negotiate and work through issues involving potential industrial action and handling disciplinary procedures amongst many others.
- Advising Birmingham Hippodrome on a wide range of day-to-day employment issues, including the use of atypical workers and providing line management training.
- Advising Moto Hospitality on the harmonisation of terms and conditions following a TUPE acquisition, including negotiations with a recognised trade union, fending off industrial action and advising on the management of publicity.
- Advising a nation-wide pub company on a broad spectrum of HR matters, including handling capability and disciplinary procedures, pregnancy and maternity issues and exiting senior managers.
Rebecca knows the complexities and potential risks of this ever-changing industry, which she relies on to provide expert advice to a wide variety of different food manufacturers and suppliers. Among others, she has worked with a supplier of frozen speciality food, a wholesale food supplier and a leading convenience food manufacturer.
- Providing full HR support to a supplier of frozen speciality food, including advice on restructuring, implementing new policies and sickness absence management.
- Advising a leading food manufacturer on the reorganisation of its warehousing and distribution function.
- Advising a major wholesale food supplier on compliance with the National Minimum Wage involving complex contract variations.
Rebecca advises clients within a diverse range of industry sectors but is particularly focused on acting for retailers. She has gained considerable experience from advising leading brand names such as Debenhams, M&S, Starbucks and Paul Smith during her career.
- Advising a high street retailer on a joint redundancy and contract variation programme which involved the renegotiation of service contracts and remuneration packages. This was in the context of restructuring various service divisions and co-ordinating strategic and procedural advice simultaneously across all 150 stores.
- Advising a fashion designer on all areas of employment law, including family-friendly rights, responding to subject access requests under the Data Protection Act 1998 and the calculation of holiday pay in light of changes to case law, in addition to effectively disposing of several ”brand sensitive” tribunal claims.
- Advising Midlands Co-op on the TUPE implications of store acquisitions and outsourcing.
Transport & Logistics
Rebecca has an excellent track record of cases within the transport sector. She has represented a variety of national companies, handling multiple sensitive claims and disposing of a case with a potential £3.5 million liability.
- Providing HR support to a national logistics company including advising on a large scale investigation, following receipt of a complaint relating to a number of sensitive allegations of sexual bullying and harassment.
- Acting as sole adviser to a national coach company, including handling multiple tribunal claims each year and providing both policy and strategic advice across different levels of the organisation.
- Successfully representing a rail company and obtaining costs against the Claimant in a tribunal claim raising serious allegations of race discrimination.
“Her interpersonal skills are excellent, she explains things well and she’s always to the point.”(Chambers & Partners)
Described as ‘incredibly responsive’, ‘there to solve problems’, ‘first class at exceptional value’, and provides ‘concise and relevant advice at all times’.(The Legal 500)
“Rebecca Sawbridge has a wide employment practice that covers contentious and non-contentious issues, including restructures, employment contracts and discrimination claims. Clients state: ‘She knows our business well, which helps and means the advice she gives is more relevant to our company,’ adding that ‘we don’t feel like just another client’.”(Chambers & Partners, 2018)
“Rebecca Sawbridge offers advice on the full gamut of employment law, including TUPE issues, restrictive covenants and injunctions. She also has experience in handling redundancy and restructuring matters.”
Rebecca Sawbridge has experience acting for a variety of clients and demonstrates strength handling dismissals and discrimination claims. Clients comment: “Rebecca’s knowledge and expertise in her field is exceptional.”(Chambers & Partners, 2019)
Rebecca Sawbridge “goes the extra mile, realising the urgency of matters while still maintaining the accuracy,” according to sources. She advises on executive and board-level issues for clients drawn from a range of industries, including IT and fashion.(Chambers & Partners, 2020)
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