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Tom is a Managing Associate in the Employment team and provides advice on contentious and non-contentious employment law to clients throughout the private and public sectors.

Tom is a member of the firm’s Education team, with particular expertise in providing specialist advice to schools and early years providers. Tom’s school clients include multi-academy trusts, academies, faith schools, maintained schools, independent schools and nurseries. In addition to employment law and HR matters, Tom advises schools on parental complaints and exclusions. Tom has also assisted a number of schools clients in successfully defending disability discrimination claims brought in the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.

Tom has independently conducted a number of complex disciplinary and grievance investigations for employers involving allegations relating to safeguarding, discrimination and whistleblowing. Tom has also clerked a number of formal independent hearings.

Tom provides advice on all aspects of employment law, including:

  • Day-to-day employment law and HR queries;
  • Managing complex disciplinary, capability, grievance, redundancy and sickness absence processes;
  • Business restructures;
  • Preparation of contractual and policy documents;
  • TUPE transfers and advice on employment-related matters in commercial transactions;
  • Collective agreements, collective consultation and trade union issues;
  • Settlement negotiations and Employment Tribunal claims.


Tom routinely represents organisations in defending all types of claims in the Employment Tribunal, where he conducts his own advocacy. Tom has a particular interest in defending complex and high-value discrimination and whistleblowing claims. He has recently successfully defended a number of Employment Tribunal claims for unfair dismissal, constructive unfair dismissal, whistleblowing dismissal, unlawful deduction from wages, disability discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination and age discrimination. Tom has also advised clients in a number of cases before the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal.

Tom also has expertise in advising senior employees in exit negotiations, and has represented a number of clients in achieving six-figure packages.

Tom works closely with our Corporate team to provide support to clients on employment issues arising from transactions and similar projects.

Tom regularly provides employment law updates and bespoke training to our clients.

What people say

  • Tom is solution-focused and offers pragmatic advice at every opportunity.

    Chambers and Partners 2023 - client quote
  • His work is always timely, hugely comprehensive and of high quality.

    Chambers and Partners 2023 - client quote
  • I mostly work with Tom Shears and the advice given is always professional and reliable. Where the law may be ambiguous, Tom always provides helpful risk-based options so that we can take informed decisions. I’m particularly impressed by how well Ward Hadaway and Tom understand our business and culture – the relationship feels like an extension of our own organisation.

    Legal 500, client quote

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