The mining and resources and mining services industries are regulated by specific laws that impact employment rights and obligations.
Specific modern awards may apply such as the Black Coal Mining Industry Award 2010, Mining Industry Award 2020, Aluminium Industry Award 2020, Coal Export Terminals Award 2020, Gas Industry Award 2020, Hydrocarbons Field Geologists Award 2020, Hydrocarbons Industry (Upstream) Award 2020 and the Maritime Offshore Oil and Gas Award 2020. Specific safety laws can also apply such as the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999 in Queensland.
Some challenging issues in these industries include:
- high costs of training to enter the industry;
- distant work and FIFO and DIDO arrangements;
- significant use of contracting where individual workers contract through their own companies;
- high proportion of labour hire employment; and
- portable long service – ie the black coal long service leave scheme.
WorkLegal has extensive experience in the mining and resources sector. Some of the areas in which you may need assistance are:
- employment contract negotiation or review;
- workplace investigations;
- workplace investigations;
- advice about entitlements.
For longstanding experience in the mining and resources and mining services industries Contact WorkLegal without delay.
Case Study – Redundancy in the Black Coal Mining Industry
Matthew works as a diesel fitter maintaining machinery in the workshop at an underground black coal mine. He has been employed for 9 months. He is told his position is subject to redundancy for de-manning. He is given a termination letter with 1 week’s termination notice and stating that he will be paid out his accrued untaken annual leave. The letter says nothing about any other payments. Matthew sees a lawyer who explains that Matthew’s position is covered by the Black Coal Mining Industry Award which provides for severance pay even though he was employed for less than 12 months. Furthermore the Award entitles him to a payout of his personal leave as his accrual is more than a threshold of 70 hours stated in the Award. His lawyer guides Matthew about how to courteously but firmly demand the additional pay.
Case Study – Responding to a Restraint of Trade Demand
Dan is a senior consulting engineer who was employed as a regional manager for a national engineering firm. In the position Dan has managed the contracts for most of the firm’s major clients in the regional. Dan has been headhunted by a competitor that wants to build its footprint in the region. The salary is higher and Dan does not think twice before accepting it.
News travels quickly in the mining services sector and soon Dan receives a letter from his old employer affirming ongoing obligations in his employment contract with them and complaining about a recent visit he made to one of their largest clients that has since transferred its business to Dan’s new employer. The letter threatens an injunction application for breach of a restraint clause in the employment contract by which Dan was prevented from approaching their customers for a period of 6 months. The letter also claims against Dan personally an account of any profits from the client’s work they may lose.
Dan needs urgent legal advice about the enforceability of the threatened restraint and how he should respond.
Case Study – Unreasonable claw back clauses
Thomas applies for a position as a coal miner with a labour hire contractor to mine sites. He does not yet have a coal board medical and his employer sends him to the company doctor for that. The company pays for the costs of the medical.
Three months later he is made redundant due to de-manning by the mine site at which he was placed. A week later he is surprised to receive a letter from the employer demanding that he pay back the cost of the coal board medical. He reads his employment contract and notices a clause authorising the employer to demand repayment of the costs of the coal board medical if the employment ends of any reason within 6 months of commencement.
Thomas wisely decides to get advice before paying the money back. Fortunately his lawyer knows about the legislative duty in coal mining safety law for employers to pay for the costs of coal board medicals, and assists Thomas to write a letter to the employer explaining why the repayment demand is unlawful.
Case Study – Reinstated to coal mining job after unfairly dismissed
Ms Star was employed by WorkPac, a labour hire provider, and had worked shifts for 4 years at the Goonyella Riverside Mine, a BMA mine. She was told that her position was “demobilised” and that BHP had directed Workpac to remove her from the mine. She was not given reasons.
The Fair Work Commission found that Ms Star had been unfairly dismissed and the Commission ordered that she be reinstated to the mine site even though WorkPac was a labour hire provider to the site, not the site operator. Ms Star was also compensated for lost salary.
Kim Star v Workpac Pty Ltd  FWC 5745
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