NatRoad’s request to the Victorian Minister for Industrial Relations, the Hon Tim Pallas, to delay the enforcement of amendments to the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act that came into force from 1 May 2020 has been granted.
The Minister has told NatRoad that the Wage Inspectorate Victoria will take an educative approach to compliance. From 1 May 2020, the Inspectorate will give priority to the provision of information and education and voluntary compliance rather than litigation. That approach will likely end when a comprehensive information campaign has concluded. That campaign will be rolled out soon. The Minister also advised that hirers and freight brokers found to have breached their statutory obligations prior to 1 December 2020 will not be subject to litigation action and will instead receive a formal warning.
The changes that have been introduced from 1 May 2020 include new penalties of more than $4,000 (or more than $800 for an infringement) for providing non-compliant contracts, failing to give the required notice or payment in lieu for termination of an engagement, failing to provide information booklets or failing to provide schedules of rates and costs in relation to tip truck drivers and other owner drivers.
Warren Clark, CEO of NatRoad, said “We appreciate the Victorian Government’s commitment in putting education first. That will assist those who engage owner drivers in Victoria from avoiding a fine where they haven’t complied with the Act’s administrative requirements. The biggest educational step that the industry needs to be aware of is the need for written contracts. NatRoad has geared up to assist here but the effects of the current pandemic mean that getting work is a priority for members rather than ensuring, for example when they subcontract work to an owner driver that all the administrative ducks are lined up. We appreciate that the Victorian Government will conduct an education campaign before the enforcement of these obligations occurs.”