Coal miners defeat redundancy claims

Metropolitan Coal Miners deemed unfairly dismissed after COVID-19 redundancies

Coal miners defeat redundancy claims

A group of 24 applicants from the Illawarra region have defeated Metropolitan Coal Miners in an unfair dismissal suit.

The respondent terminated the applicants’ employment, citing genuine redundancies due to the negative impact of COVID-19 on the demand and price of coking coal.

The Commission found the primary issue in question to be whether the respondent was obliged to redeploy the applicants into roles that were being outsourced by the company. 

Ultimately, the Commission was not satisfied that the outsourced work required specialist contractors. It was held that the respondent could have reasonably insourced some, if not all, of this work to the dismissed employees.

The applicants’ termination did not satisfy s. 389(2)(a) Fair Work Act and a directional conference will be convened immediately to further the application. 

Key Takeaways for HR:

  • Employers must take care to ensure company restructuring is legally compliant.
  • Employers should act with caution when outsourcing roles and dismissing employees on the basis of genuine redundancy.

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