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Helen Wilsenach

Head of Employment and Benefits | Johannesburg

Helen-Wilsenach

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Contact

T: +27 11 669 9527

Overview

Employment law is a barometer of what is happening in society and is never static, constantly presenting new challenges.  This, together with the pan-African character of her work at Bowmans and its people focus, is what makes the field so satisfying for Helen.

New ways of working and a mobile workforce, increasingly present new opportunities and challenges for clients in managing talent pipelines. Companies across sectors and jurisdictions seek best practices in compensating, rewarding and motivating top talent, and Helen leads a team proficient in both employment law and employment benefits, including remuneration and reward advisory services.

She particularly enjoys working with Bowmans lawyers in other practices, including Mergers & Acquisitions and Tax, as well as across its African footprint, making cross-border collaboration standard procedure, not a buzzword.

Apart from her legal skills, Helen’s best qualities are pragmatism and strong listening skills. She has a keen ear for clients’ requirements and priorities, and the ability to focus on situations from the client’s perspective.

Helen, who has been with Bowmans for over 20 years, is versatile. She does a substantial amount of board advisory work in terms of executive exits, onboardings, offboardings and restructurings, along with investigations, restraint of trade work, amongst other litigation, including from the CCMA level up to the Constitutional Court. Complex matters relating to the employment aspects of corporate transactions, including relating to section 197 of the Labour Relations Act are another strong point.

Her client base is cosmopolitan, with many of her contacts based in the United Kingdom, Europe and other overseas jurisdictions, and spanning sectors such as media, healthcare, banking and finance, mining, professional services and retail and consumer goods, ranging from start-ups to major corporates and multinationals.

Helen’s interest in the world around her is reflected in her reading preferences, which include a passion for international affairs, having majored in politics and journalism before studying law.

Professional Memberships:

  • Helen is a member of the South African Society for Labour Law (SASLAW) and has sat as an acting judge of the Labour Court.

Experience

Jurisdictions worked in: South Africa

  • Advising on the employment aspects of various global transactions.
  • Advising a multi-national IT company regarding the outsourcing of key IT services by a global mining company in relation to multiple  sites/offices across South Africa.
  • Advising various boards regarding the exit of senior executives.
  • Carrying out an investigation into the South African Managing Director of a multinational relating to allegations of harassment.
  • Acting for a the largest, politically non-affiliated union in the South African public service, in a number of matters relating inter alia to the interpretation and application of collective agreements, including relating to the implementation of an amended occupation specific pay dispensation for correctional services officials.
  • Providing employment advice to a global engineering consultancy company in relation to the cross-border restructuring of its operations.
  • Advising on multiple restraint of trade and unlawful competition disputes and proceedings, including the cross-border enforcement of restraints.
  •  

Awards

  • Chambers and Partners: Band 4 for Employment (2017-2023)

AREA OF EXPERTISE

Qualifications

  • Rhodes University, BA and Bachelor of Laws (LLB) (cum laude).

INSIGHTS

Overview

Employment law is a barometer of what is happening in society and is never static, constantly presenting new challenges.  This, together with the pan-African character of her work at Bowmans and its people focus, is what makes the field so satisfying for Helen.

New ways of working and a mobile workforce, increasingly present new opportunities and challenges for clients in managing talent pipelines. Companies across sectors and jurisdictions seek best practices in compensating, rewarding and motivating top talent, and Helen leads a team proficient in both employment law and employment benefits, including remuneration and reward advisory services.

She particularly enjoys working with Bowmans lawyers in other practices, including Mergers & Acquisitions and Tax, as well as across its African footprint, making cross-border collaboration standard procedure, not a buzzword.

Apart from her legal skills, Helen’s best qualities are pragmatism and strong listening skills. She has a keen ear for clients’ requirements and priorities, and the ability to focus on situations from the client’s perspective.

Helen, who has been with Bowmans for over 20 years, is versatile. She does a substantial amount of board advisory work in terms of executive exits, onboardings, offboardings and restructurings, along with investigations, restraint of trade work, amongst other litigation, including from the CCMA level up to the Constitutional Court. Complex matters relating to the employment aspects of corporate transactions, including relating to section 197 of the Labour Relations Act are another strong point.

Her client base is cosmopolitan, with many of her contacts based in the United Kingdom, Europe and other overseas jurisdictions, and spanning sectors such as media, healthcare, banking and finance, mining, professional services and retail and consumer goods, ranging from start-ups to major corporates and multinationals.

Helen’s interest in the world around her is reflected in her reading preferences, which include a passion for international affairs, having majored in politics and journalism before studying law.

Professional Memberships:

  • Helen is a member of the South African Society for Labour Law (SASLAW) and has sat as an acting judge of the Labour Court.

Experience

Jurisdictions worked in: South Africa

  • Advising on the employment aspects of various global transactions.
  • Advising a multi-national IT company regarding the outsourcing of key IT services by a global mining company in relation to multiple  sites/offices across South Africa.
  • Advising various boards regarding the exit of senior executives.
  • Carrying out an investigation into the South African Managing Director of a multinational relating to allegations of harassment.
  • Acting for a the largest, politically non-affiliated union in the South African public service, in a number of matters relating inter alia to the interpretation and application of collective agreements, including relating to the implementation of an amended occupation specific pay dispensation for correctional services officials.
  • Providing employment advice to a global engineering consultancy company in relation to the cross-border restructuring of its operations.
  • Advising on multiple restraint of trade and unlawful competition disputes and proceedings, including the cross-border enforcement of restraints.
  •  

Awards

  • Chambers and Partners: Band 4 for Employment (2017-2023)

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