About Us

Decipher Law

At Decipher Workplace Law, we provide strategic and pragmatic legal advice to employers on how to solve challenging people issues. 

We know how complicated the Australian workplace relations system is with varying state, territory and federal legislative requirements, coupled with industrial instrument coverage and interpretation considerations, in a constantly evolving regulatory and legislative landscape. We’ll partner with you to decipher this workplace complexity, identifying commercial, cost-effective solutions that work for your business.

Our team is led by two highly experienced employment lawyers, Sarah Blackman and Bec Ellis. We have more than 30 years of employment law experience between us, covering a range of legal roles in private practice, in-house teams, frontline workplace relations and government. Based in Melbourne, we have experience across all jurisdictions in Australia. 

Our extensive first-hand experience in managing people issues internally means we understand just how disruptive these situations can be for your business. Thankfully, we are well versed at working in fast-paced environments and are quick to adapt and identify the right path forward. We are calm in a crisis and our approach is both personable and pragmatic.   

What we do

Decipher Workplace Law advises employers on the full spectrum of people-related issues that may arise across the employment lifecycle. In particular, we:

  • Help you navigate and mitigate any risks that can arise from employees exiting your business covering unfair dismissal, general protections and discrimination risks, redundancies and negotiated exits.
  • Conduct workplace investigations involving allegations of sexual harassment, bullying or other breaches of employment policies or laws.
  • Prepare, draft and review employment contracts and people policies.
  • Design people governance frameworks to manage legal risks.
  • Prepare training packages to upskill your people, tailored to your business’ specific needs.
  • Conduct holistic workplace behaviour reviews to help prevent sexual harassment from occurring in your workplace.

Why choose us?

With our extensive in-house and commercial experience, we are well placed to deliver strategic legal advice across a range of people-related and employment law issues. 

We offer competitive pricing, without the overheads and additional costs of larger law firms.

We understand the pressure HR practitioners, people leaders and business owners face with competing demands in an ever-changing workplace landscape. Workplace law is highly specialised and constantly evolving so often best outsourced to experts. Decipher Workplace Law can provide this expert advice, conduct workplace investigations, training, or workplace reviews, so you can focus on your core business.

Sarah Blackman

While starting out in frontline labour relations in the vehicle manufacturing industry, Sarah has spent much of her career leading teams of lawyers and workplace relations professions at Australia Post and Coles Group. This experience has equipped her with the ability to navigate dynamic workplace and people issues, including workforce reorganisation and transformation programs, providing strategic advice on the complexities involved with transfer of business, workplace disputes and investigations, managing employment-related litigation in courts and tribunals and dealing with the challenging range of employment issues which arose during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Sarah is passionate about problem solving, applying a commercial lens to every problem she encounters. She prides herself in being able to identify pragmatic, cost-effective solutions to workforce related issues. Sarah was named as one of Doyle’s Guide Leading In-House Employment & WHS Lawyers in 2020 and was nominated to appear in the 2023 Legal 500’s GC Powerlist as a top Australian in-house lawyer. Before co-founding Decipher Workplace Law, she worked as Managing Counsel, People & Culture at Coles Group, advising a 130,000-strong workforce on employment-related matters and litigation. Prior to her departure, Sarah was the recipient of the Chief People Officer’s Award in 2022, the highest award within the People and Culture function at Coles Group.

Bec Ellis

Bec started her career at top-tier law firm Herbert Smith Freehills and spent close to 10 years working in the employment law team, progressing to Senior Associate. She completed a number of secondments across a range of industries (finance, automotive and retail) during her time in private practice, allowing her to obtain a deep appreciation of business needs and the importance of clear and sensible legal advice. 

In 2017, Bec moved to Coles Group, where she spent over five years leading a large team of highly skilled, workplace relations professionals on complex employment law matters including workplace investigations, people litigation and distilling complex advice to various stakeholders across the organisation. 

Just prior to co-founding Decipher Workplace Law, Bec completed a secondment to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) where she worked as part of the Sex Discrimination Team on several key initiatives emerging from the Respect@Work Report. 

Bec is passionate about educating and upskilling business leaders and HR professionals to ensure workplaces are free of inappropriate workplace behaviour. Her experience at the AHRC, together with her extensive employment law experience, means Bec is well placed to assist your business in taking proactive steps to prevent sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination in your workplace.  Well known for her calm approach and her pragmatic advice, Bec has a strong focus on pathways forward.

Our Story

The inception of Decipher Workplace Law took place on an ordinary Friday evening, with good friends sharing fish and chips while reflecting on the week that was. Leading complementary teams in the People & Culture function at Coles Group for almost four years, it was clear to Sarah and Bec that they shared a passion for identifying pragmatic solutions to the range of people problems that arise over the employment lifecycle. The vision was quickly realised, with a gentle nudge from their other halves, to create a specialised workplace law firm to assist employers solve their people issues by minimising pain points and disruption, to unlock resources and enable their businesses to thrive.  

From this, Decipher Workplace Law was founded.