Big pay win for owner-drivers in Victoria
VICTORIAN truckies who own and drive their own vehicles to earn a living will soon find work conditions safer and fairer.
Amendments to the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act passed Parliament ensuring these workers are paid correctly, are safer at work and have all the information they need to run successful businesses.
Under the reforms, hirers and brokers face significant penalties if they breach their obligations to provide safe and fair conditions.
The changes will benefit owner operators that supply and operate one to three vehicles, and are contractors, not legal employees.
The Act has also been amended to ensure owner-drivers are provided with their terms and conditions before engaging with a hirer and that all invoices are paid within 30 days.
A recent review found many hirers and brokers were breaching the Act by not providing information about rates and costs to owner drivers or forestry contractors.
Contractual arrangements were also not being properly recorded, with owner operators left with little recourse to pursue legal action if they wanted to contest issues. This led to unreasonably high safety, income and business risks for owner operators in these industries.
Under the reforms, hirers and brokers now face penalties if they don't comply with the Act. If they fail in their obligations, they face fines of more than $16,500 as a body corporate or nearly $10,000 as an individual.
Amendments have also been made to the dispute resolution procedure under the Act to allow the Victorian Small Business Commission to arrange arbitration if disagreements arise.
Wage Inspectorate Victoria will be responsible for monitoring compliance with the Act, increasing awareness about parties' rights and responsibilities and issuing penalties for non-compliance.
The Wage Inspectorate was established last year to better protect workers under a range of Victorian industrial relations laws.
It will conduct a comprehensive information campaign before the laws come into force, to ensure that those affected are aware of their rights and obligations and know where they can find help.
Victorian Transport Association CEO Peter Anderson said the association welcomed passage of the legislation.
"We strongly supported this legislation when it was proposed in May and are pleased with its passage through the Parliament yesterday,” Anderson said.
"It will improve conditions for all owner-drivers and ensure that safety is paramount in all contracts.
"We commend Minister Pallas and the Government for working with the industry to legislate for better conditions for transport operators and those they employ.”