Emma Burns

Partner, Head of Employment and HR Services Group

Emma Burns, Head of Employment and HR Services Group at Hugh James
Department telephone
029 2039 1002
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Emma joined Hugh James from Geldards LLP where she was a partner in the employment team. Having worked as an employment specialist for 12 years, Emma has a wealth of experience providing employment law advice across the private, public and third sectors.

As well as having excellent technical skills, Emma is recognised for her pragmatic approach. She works in close partnership with clients to deliver innovative, yet effective solutions to employment issues at minimum cost. She is an able employment tribunal advocate with experience of handling complex unfair dismissal, discrimination and whistleblowing claims.


  • Employment law
  • Discrimination law and equality duties
  • Employment tribunal litigation
  • Industrial relations and trade union matters
  • Data protection
  • Freedom of Information

Career history

  • Trained: Geldards
  • Qualified: 1999
  • Partner at Geldards: 2008
  • Joined Hugh James as partner and head of employment and HR services group in August 2011.



Some examples of Emma’s specific experience include:

  • Drafting employment contracts, employee handbooks and policies including providing supplementary training and guidance for managers.
  • Day to day HR advice including all aspects of disciplinary and grievance processes.
  • Negotiation of agreed exit packages.
  • Assisting clients with business reorganisations and restructures including implementing wholesale changes to terms and conditions of employment and voluntary and compulsory redundancy programmes, including consultation and redeployment obligations.
  • Advising on employment aspects of business sales, including the application of the TUPE regulations generally and in insolvency situations.
  • Contracting out situations and the employment implications of the development of new service delivery models, including shared service arrangements.
  • Advising on job evaluation and the development of equality proof pay and grading structures for various public sector organisations.
  • Multimillion pound equal pay litigation for Welsh local authorities.
  • Advising on employee consultation obligations, including trade union collective agreements, trade union recognition and employee forums for non-unionised employers.

Emma also has additional expertise in the areas of data protection and freedom of information law.

Emma Burns is highly regarded for her expertise on restructuring and TUPE mandates, and is also sought after for her training sessions on employment issues.
Chamber UK

Head of department Emma Burns uses “her clear thinking, legal perspective, commercial know-how and general experience” to assist clients. She has experience advising on a broad spectrum of employment matters, including TUPE, trade union law and equal pay mandates.
Chambers UK

Clients praise her approach to their work: “We have a good working relationship – she understands our business completely.”
Chambers UK



  • Settle High School, North Yorkshire
  • Cardiff University
  • – LLB (Hons) First class (1996)
  • – Legal Practice Course Distinction (1997) – won Law Society Prize for best performance.

What do you like to do outside work?

Trustee of Breast Cancer Care (a UK wide charity providing support and services to people affected by breast cancer). Chairperson of local breast cancer support group Breastfriends Cardiff and Vale.


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