Kirsty McDonald


I am an employment and health and safety lawyer with over 18 years’ experience. I advise on all manner of workplace issues across a broad range of sectors, with a specific focus on education, energy, manufacturing, construction, logistics, distribution, professional services and technology.

Clients appreciate my pragmatic and strategic approach which is reflected through my experience representing large global organisations and iconic NZ brands - recognised leaders in their sectors. I regularly advise employers and senior managers on sensitive workplace issues, complex restructuring, the dispute process through to litigation if necessary, all while considering compliance with current and future legal issues.

Some of my recent and relevant employment experience includes advising:

  • A range of private and public secondary schools, primary schools and early childhood centres in relating to allegations involving misconduct, bullying, privacy breaches, and investigations.
  • Limited Statutory Managers, Commissioners and Boards of Trustees in navigating complex employment matters, often playing out in the media.
  • National and trans-Tasman clients on Covid-19 working arrangements including vaccinations and testing regimes
  • A multinational organisation on managing conflicts of interest arising from personal relationships
  • A global organisation on its restructure impacting over 20% of its NZ business
  • On a global organisation’s acquisition of a NZ entity, working with their UK lawyers on the employment due diligence
  • On the instruction of external investigators to assist with investigations into sexual harassment, bullying, theft, etc
  • On negotiations and successful resolutions of complex relationship issues at a senior executive level
  • On Royal Commissions of Inquiry

Examples of my recent health and safety experience includes representing:

  • Clients on managing covid-19, including assisting with risk assessments and providing vaccination/ testing advice
  • Various schools through WorkSafe investigations
  • A large construction company with allegations of recklessness
  • A large corporate investigated by WorkSafe into bullying allegations with no resulting prosecution
  • A roading contractor investigated by WorkSafe following a fatality with no resulting prosecution
  • Organisations dealing with investigations arising from fatalities
  • A labour hire company investigated by WorkSafe with no resulting prosecution
  • Various organisations who are prosecuted following WorkSafe investigations, through to sentencing in the District Court
  • Assisting clients with Enforceable Undertakings and Project Orders

I represent clients in the Employment Relations Authority, the Employment Court and the District Court. I regularly present at industry conferences on health and safety and employment issues and am recognised as a recommended lawyer by the Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2023 legal directory. I have also chaired two sports Judiciary Committees.