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Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act

by | Feb 8, 2023 | Human Resources, Wage Obligations

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 The Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005 (Vic) was made to ensure that small business Owner Driver and Forestry Contractors could operate fairly and competitively in a market where they could be very commercially dependent on larger companies that would contract them. Those large customers could potentially take advantage of a lack of protections and regulation in the industry to the detriment of their smaller suppliers in the absence of the Act. We go over how the legislation provides some protection in this article.

WHO DOES IT COVER?

For the purpose of this legislation an Owner Driver is considered to be a sole trader, non-public company or partnership that transports goods using up to three vehicles with those vehicles being supplied by the owner with at least one of those vehicles operated by the owner.

It also applies to contractors involved in the harvesting and haulage of forestry products.

HOW DOES IT PROTECT THESE SMALL BUSINESSES?

The three main ways in which the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act help businesses navigate the industry are:

The Victorian Owner Drivers/Forestry Contractor Information Booklet

This booklet is a tool that helps owners of these businesses run successfully in the industry by outlining how a business should operate. Some of the areas that it covers include:

  • How Owner Drivers should be engaged by Hirers
  • Contract requirements
  • Dispute resolutions between Owner Drivers and Hirers
  • How an Owner Driver business should run on a basic level from business planning, tax and insurance, and record keeping requirements as well as many other areas.
  • Covers the laws that apply to the Industry

This is only a small selection of what it covers, click on this link to read the full handbook – Victorian Owner Drivers/Forestry Contractor Information Booklet

The Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Code of Practice 

The Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Code of Practice sets out the legal obligations and mandatory requirements of parties involved in engaging owner drivers. It sets out how the parties should interact with each other and what constitutes best practice in the industry.

It is particularly important that Hirers of Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors are aware of what is in the code of practice as in the last few years breaches of certain sections of the Code have become a criminal offence and carry heavy penalties.

You can read the Code in full here – The Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Code of Practice

The rates and costs schedules

The rates and costs schedules which set out the average rates and costs for everything associated with running a Owner Driver business. These cover the average costs of vehicle maintenance, insurance, registrations etc. and can be used by business owners to better understand the cost of running the business.

Business Victoria publish these rates and costs every year in line with changes to inflation and industry costs. You can find them here – Owner Drivers rates and costs schedules

 DID YOU KNOW?

 Some other parts of the legislation that might be useful to know are:

  • When an engagement is longer than 30 days or there is no defined duration for an ongoing engagement  it is mandatory for the hirer to have a written contract of engagement.
  • Where there is a dispute between an owner driver contractor and a hirer they may first take it to the Victorian Small Business Commission for a low cost alternative to dispute resolution. Should they fail to resolve it there it would then be referred to VCAT for resolution.
  • If you are a Freight Broker who engages owner drivers on behalf of a hirer you also have obligations under the Act and it’s regulations.

The Albanese government has forecast that they are looking to provide ways to provide protections for gig workers with possible access to the Fair Work Commission. The Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Industry may well be indicative of what that may look like.

If you need any assistance with anything mentioned here or with any other matter give us a call on 1300 108 488.

CONTACT US

Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
ABN : 24 091 644 094

enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

1300 108 488

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