Victorian owner-driver Act passes parliament


Industry welcomes changes to payment terms and conditions

Victorian owner-driver Act passes parliament
Tim Pallas

 

Amendments to the Victorian Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors (ODCF) Act have passed Parliament, granting greater payment and conditions protection for contractors who own and drive their own vehicles.

Under the reforms hirers and brokers face significant penalties if they breach their obligations to provide safe and fair conditions for individuals classified as contractors, not legal employees.

It comes after a recent review found parties higher in the supply chain 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," the Victorian government says in a statement.

"This led to unreasonably high safety, income and business risks for owner operators in these industries."


The amendments to the ODFC Act were proposed in May


Under the reforms, hirers and brokers face penalties of more than $16,500 as a body corporate or nearly $10,000 as an individual for noncompliance.

Amendments have also been made to the dispute resolution procedure under the ODFC Act to allow the Victorian Small Business Commission to arrange arbitration if disagreements arise.

Payment watchdog Wage Inspectorate Victoria will also be responsible for monitoring compliance with the Act.

"Regulation in the industry simply wasn’t working – we’ve strengthened the Act so that those who do the wrong thing face serious penalties," Minister for Industrial Relations Tim Pallas says

"This is about ensuring hard-working owner drivers in the transport and forestry sector get the fair and safe working conditions they deserve."

The Victorian government says it will conduct an information campaign before the laws come into force – though no date has yet been determined – to ensure that those affected are aware of their rights and obligations and know where they can find help.

Peak state transport body the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) welcomed the announcement, in particular:

  • ensuring owner drivers are provided with their terms and conditions before engaging with a hirer and
  • all invoices are paid within 30 days
  • more clarity on the definition of a freight broker to ensure that contractors employed through third-party technology based platforms are covered.

"We strongly supported this legislation when it was proposed in May and are pleased with its passage through the Parliament yesterday," VTA CEO Peter Anderson says.

"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."

 

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