On 24 July 2018, the Owner Driver and Forestry Contractors Amendment Bill 2018 was introduced in the Victorian Parliament in response to a government review of the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005 (Vic). The review found widespread non-compliance with the Act by hirers and freight brokers. The Bill introduces penalties and inspection and enforcement powers to promote compliance with the mandatory requirements in the Act. The Bill also introduces 30-day payment terms for invoices issued by owner drivers.
Who is an ‘owner driver’ under the Act?
For the purposes of the Act, an ‘owner driver’ is:
- a natural person (whether as an individual or in a partnership) who carries on a business of transporting goods, provided less than four vehicles are owned by the business and operated by the person (whether solely or with the use of additional or relief operators); and
- a corporation (other than a listed public company) that carries on a business of transporting goods, provided less than four vehicles are owned by the corporation or an officer of the corporation, and the vehicles are operated by an officer of the corporation (whether solely or with the use of additional or relief operators).
What does the Act currently do?
The Act sets out what must and what must not be in any contract with an owner driver. The Act also requires a hirer to provide an owner driver with a published information booklet and rates and costs schedule (both of which can be found on the Victoria Government website). The Act prescribes minimum notice periods for termination of engagement and how payment in lieu of notice must be calculated.
What will be changed?
The Bill proposes a significant number of changes to promote compliance with the Act. Some of the more significant changes are summarised in the table below.