Victoria will introduce new laws for owner drivers following a review of its Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act which started in 2016
Victoria will introduce new laws for owner-drivers following a review of its OwnerDriversandForestryContractors (OFDC) Act, which started in 2016.
Victorian Minister for Industrial Relations Natalie Hutchins says the review uncovered widespread non-compliance by businesses, which meant drivers were not being paid on time, and were thus at a competitive disadvantage. “The new laws will put an end to this,” she says.
The OFDC’s joint negotiation provisions will change – requiring hiring companies to offer contractors existing site agreements, rather than renegotiating a new contract for every new owner-driver.
The government will also close a loophole that has kept some owner-drivers from being able to access the Victorian Small Business Commission and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
In addition to this, the Small Business Commission will make a low-cost, binding dispute resolution process available for owner drivers, for them to use to settle disputes such as the termination of a contract. Owner-drivers will also have access to the government’s newly announced Victorian Wage Inspectorate, set up last month with a mandate to promote “fair industrial relations practices and better education, compliance and enforcement of state-based employment laws”.
The inspectorate will enforce legal changes requiring companies to pay invoices within 30 days, as well as any other penalties for non-compliance and failing to provide rate and cost schedules and written contracts.
Transport Workers Union (TWU) Victorian and Tasmanian branch secretary John Berger welcomed the policy change, saying they would help ensure ownerdrivers and on-demand workers were not exploited or forced into unsafe practices.
National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) chief executive Warren Clark welcomed early promises that the the new bill would ensure drivers are paid within 30 days of issuing an invoice, though he says it would be better if this were part of a code for the industry introduced in Commonwealth legislation.
He also urged the government not to impose mandated rates of pay for owner-drivers, saying it would harm the drivers that it aimed to protect.
“From the terms of the minister’s announcement, it seems that this element of regulation is not to proceed, but the devil will be in the detail of the Bill,” he says. “We remain satisfied that the voluntary components of the current scheme work well and the need to mandate penalties for failure to provide a written contract, for example, may adversely impact business.”