The Victorian Government has introduced a Bill into Parliament that would amend the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005 (Vic). The amendments would provide additional protections for owner drivers and forestry contractors and implement financial penalties for non-compliance with various provisions of the Act.
The Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005 regulates owner drivers and harvesting and haulage contractors working in the forestry industry. The Act imposes obligations in respect of contractual arrangements. It also provides dispute resolution mechanisms, and mandates the provision of certain information to contractors, such as information booklets, guideline rates and cost schedules.
The introduction of the Bill follows the completion of a review into the legislation
Key changes that would be introduced through the Bill include:
- Amending the definition of “freight broker” under the legislation to cover third party contracting platforms such as Uber Freight.
- Requiring hirers and freight brokers to provide the rates and costs schedule annually if a contractor is engaged under more than one contact during a 12- month period.
- Requiring hirers to provide tip truck contactors working in connection with the building and construction industry with the information booklet and rates and costs schedule, regardless of the period of time for which they are engaged.
- Clarifying that hirers can meet their obligation to provide contractors with relevant mandated information through electronic means.
- Requiring that invoices be paid within 30 days of receipt unless there is a dispute, subject to the parties agreeing to alternative fair arrangements.
- Clarifying that contractors have the option of being covered by the same terms and conditions as an existing regulated contract that has been jointly negotiated.
- Specifying that the Small Business Commissioner can arrange arbitration where the parties to a dispute agree, and that the Commercial Arbitration Act does not apply to such arbitration.
- Introducing penalties for failure to provide the information booklet, rate and cost schedule, written contract, and either the appropriate notice of termination of a contractor’s engagement or the specified minimum payment in lieu thereof.
- Providing for an enforcement and compliance framework that includes a system of infringement notices and court-imposed penalties for non-compliance with certain provisions of the Act.
- Empowering authorised officers to require hirers to produce documents relevant to an investigation, and to enter premises with consent.
If you would like more information about contractors, please contact Ai Group’s Workplace Advice Service on 1300 55 66 77.
Alternatively, if you would like advice regarding structuring employment and contractor arrangements, please contact your local employment, workplace and industrial lawyer in Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, Adelaide, Melbourne or Brisbane or email Ai Group Workplace Lawyers at firstname.lastname@example.org.