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Proactive, sensitive, commercial – employment law done properly

John Macaulay

Head of Employment & Partner

There’s a common thread among the many great HR Professionals John Macaulay has worked with in an employment law career spanning over 30 years – they have a passion to support, do the best for – and get the best out of – their people.  But at the same time, there’s a need for astute commercial focus and an ability to make tough decisions to deliver what their business requires.  By knowing his clients, understanding their business objectives and being a true partner, John believes that he can deliver the kind of tailored legal guidance and support which allows clients to balance these often conflicting demands.


“John Macaulay is extremely professional and knowledgeable. He understands business and proactively helps us find pragmatic solutions. He communicates complex concepts in a simple clear way that aids problem-solving. He always gives you the time that you need and makes sure you fully understand. He is happy to give an opinion but also very happy to listen to yours. It feels like a true partnership.”

(The Legal 500 )

Chambers and Partners have also commented that John “understands business needs which may not always sit within pure employment law – he’s pragmatic and sensible” as well as recognising that he is distinguished by his skilled handling of large and complex restructurings, involving trade union negotiations”.  John’s “easy explanations of complex and technical points” as well as his“impressive understanding of the employer’s point of view” have also been recognised in this publication.

(Chambers and Partners)

The legal press has independently recognised that John is warmly praised by clients for possessing that increasingly rare quality of being an absolute pleasure to work with”.

(Chambers and Partners)

John leads the “tier 1” ranked Employment team at Greenwoods, which also includes specialist Data Privacy and Pensions sub-teams.  He is considered a leading employment expert by both the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners and has a wealth of experience advising on all aspects of employment law.

With a degree in Law and Psychology, John chose employment law as the perfect discipline to allow him to balance expert legal knowledge with an understanding of the human element in any employer/employee relationship.  His passion is delivering practical and commercial solutions that really work in the highly complex field of human relationships.

Having undertaken a number of secondments at major household name organisations, working side by side with large and sophisticated HR teams, John understands how legal advice can best be tailored to suit both the commercial needs of the client and the practical realities of working life.


He has developed particular expertise in helping clients successfully navigate their way through large scale business re-organisations and difficult TUPE transfers.

John plays a central role in the Employment team’s training programme, which delivers public seminars and bespoke client workshops, both regionally and nationally, on a wide range of topics, and which has consistently received excellent feedback.

Outside of work, John is a keen runner and a Manchester United season ticket holder along with his wife and two boys. He is also a member of the Peterborough Male Voice Choir and has competed in national and international competitions in a variety of locations including Cornwall, West Yorkshire, Northamptonshire and Kingston-upon-Hull.


John has been instrumental in the establishment, support and management of our dedicated Data Privacy sub team which handles the full range of data privacy issues.


He has advised clients on a diverse range of issues including the effective handling of subject access requests, management of data breaches and the use of privacy notices and data protection policies.

Recent work:

  • Delivering employment law support nationally to a major UK housebuilder
  • Assisting in the delivery of several multi-million pound restructures across a variety of industries
  • Guiding a leading packaging company through the process of statutory trade union recognition
  • Advising a US based medical device manufacturer in connection with all its UK employment law needs

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