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Groups want delayed start to contractor driver minimum payments

March 10, 2016

A full bench of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) will next Tuesday 15 March 2016 hear applications seeking to delay till 1 January 2017 the start of the contractor driver minimum payments order.

Currently, the rollout date for the Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Order 2016 is 4 April. The hearing, to take place in Brisbane, will have video links in other RSRT State offices for those wishing to participate.

NatRoad, Australian Industry Group (AiG), National Road Freighters Association and Australian Long Distance Owner Drivers Association have all applied for the RSRT to delay the start date, expressing concerns that the current launch date will cost many drivers their livelihoods.

Separate applications, jointly critical

In its application, NatRoad says its members have “universally expressed concern” about the Order. For instance, the association says the definition of contractor driver is ambiguous and not adequately defined; it alleges the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has failed to produce consistent advice and direction; the rates structure mandated by the order is “complex and completely different from existing industry pricing arrangements”. The association is also critical of the online rates calculator and says that hirers of contractor drivers have expressed similar concerns.

As part of its submission, the Australia Long Distance Drivers Association states: “the Order will destroy what it has set out to protect” and “will have no impact on road safety.”

It says owner drivers are being told their services are no longer required. The association claims “the knock on impact of the Order will very likely be that owner drivers will no longer be part of the road transport industry.

In its application, the National Road Freighters Association alleges the Tribunal has failed to meet its obligations under the Road Safety Remuneration Act 2012 in a number of areas, such as the viability of businesses in the road transport industry; the likely impact of any Order on the national economy and on the movement of freight across the nation; and the need to reduce complexity and for any Order to be easy to understand while minimising the compliance burden on the industry.

“Manifestly insufficient and inadequate”

AiG states grounds for seeking variations to the Order are the current notice period is “manifestly insufficient and inadequate” due to substantial alterations to the current payment methods. Also, there hasn’t been sufficient time to seek advice from the FWO about obligations and entitlements. It is also critical that the online calculator has only been available on the Tribunal’s website since 3 March 2016. AiG states there has been insufficient time to renegotiate contracts and/or rates with customers or to restructure their businesses.

The group believes that unless the order is varied, a large number of contractor drivers are likely to lose their jobs. Delaying the start date, AiG says, will reduce the number of jobs lost by allowing more time for hirers to renegotiate contracts and rates with customers.

The RSRT full bench will sit in Brisbane at 9am (AEST) with video links set up in RSRT offices around the country at Melbourne, Hobart, Darwin, East Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth.

Persons wishing to appear by video link from any of those offices must notify the RSRT by noon (AEDT) on Friday 11 March.

How it affects you

If you use ‘owner drivers’ or ‘contractor drivers’ in your supply chain, how will the changes affect you? Are you fully-informed about the new minimum rates for contractor drivers? Have you had enough time to adjust your contracts? Do you know the other proposed changes in CoR laws this year?

The best way to keep up with all the changes is by subscribing to CoR Adviser. Written by transport law experts, CoR Adviser will ensure that you understand clearly any changes to CoR laws and what they mean to you and your business.

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