On 6 October 2023, Justice Raper of the Federal Court fined Hitachi Construction Machinery (Australia) Pty Ltd for failing to comply with its obligations under the Coal Mining Industry (Long Service Leave Funding) Corporation’s governing legislation.
The Court imposed a pecuniary penalty of $40,000 on Hitachi. The fine relates to its failure to submit levy returns associated with the accrual of long service leave to Coal LSL in respect of four of Hitachi’s eligible employees identified in the substantive liability judgment delivered in February 2023 and its failure to submit annual Audit Reports as required under the Coal Mining Industry (Long Service Leave) Payroll Levy Collection Act 1992 for each year Hitachi was found to be employing those eligible employees.
In addition to the pecuniary penalty, Justice Raper ordered Hitachi to pay Coal LSL’s legal costs for the proceedings.
Justice Raper’s February 2023 judgment determined that the four Hitachi employees, who worked on black coal mine sites across the Hunter Valley in NSW, were eligible employees under the Coal Mining Industry (Long Service Leave) Administration Act 1992, as Coal LSL asserted.
The Federal Court also determined that there was no time limitation for recovering historical levies from Hitachi.
Coal LSL’s CEO, Darlene Perks said that the Court’s decision and Justice Raper’s reasons for the judgment provide valuable guidance regarding the determination of employee eligibility and the performance of our functions.
“The Court’s ruling confirms our interpretation of the eligibility of employees of equipment supply companies, such as Hitachi, who work on mine sites,” Ms Perks said.
Coal LSL’s Chief Regulatory Officer, Sharife Rahmani said the judgment will provide further guidance to industry regarding the interpretation of our legislation.
“The Federal Court’s judgment further validates our regulatory interpretation and provides critical guidance to industry stakeholders on how eligibility should be determined and the ramifications for non-compliance.”
“We are actively engaging with Hitachi concerning the eligibility of its other employees, particularly those employees working in similar roles to the four eligible employees featured in the court case,” Mr Rahmani said.
The Coal Mining Industry (Long Service Leave Funding) Corporation (Coal LSL) is the custodian and regulator of the long service leave scheme. The Commonwealth scheme was established in 1949 for employees within Australia’s black coal mining industry. It constitutes a unique national long service leave arrangement for the black coal mining industry whereby an eligible employee accrues long service leave based on their service in that industry, rather than service with a particular employer.