The Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005 aims to improve the position of owner drivers and forestry contractors who run small businesses transporting goods or harvesting or transporting forestry products.
It applies to owner drivers and forestry contractors and their hirers and freight brokers. All have obligations under the Act. You cannot ‘contract out’ of these obligations.
Failing to meet some of these obligations is also a criminal offence. Wage Inspectorate Victoria may take enforcement actions if it finds instances of non-compliance, including warning notices, penalty infringement notices and litigation.
Wage Inspectorate Victoria
Wage Inspectorate Victoria is responsible for monitoring compliance with the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005.
Wage Inspectorate Victoria supports best practice in the transport and forestry industries. It carries out education, auditing and inspections to ensure that industry participants understand and comply with the Act’s requirements.
Wage Inspectorate Authorised Officers
Wage Inspectorate Authorised Officers ensure that people are complying with the Act.
Officers can require you to provide information or documents, and you must comply with this requirement unless you have a reasonable excuse not to. You must not knowingly produce false or misleading information or documents.
Wage Inspectorate Authorised Officers also have the power to enter premises with the consent of the occupier.
Wage Inspectorate Authorised Officers must show their identity card when asked, or when requesting to enter premises.
Protection under the Act
Under the Act, a person must not cause, or threaten to cause, detriment to someone that has:
- exercised their rights under the Act or the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Code of Practice
- initiated a legal proceeding under the Act, or proposed that they will do so
- reported or proposed to report an alleged breach of the Act, the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Regulations, Code or a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) order
- participated or proposed to participate in joint negotiations.
The Act also says that a hirer must not cause, or threaten to cause, detriment to an owner driver or forestry contractor because that contractor has:
- raised or proposed to raise health and safety issues
- sought or proposed to seek to negotiate or renegotiate a contract.
The Act sets out different types of ‘detriment’, including:
- terminating the owner driver or forestry contractor’s engagement
- altering the position of an owner driver or forestry contractor to their disadvantage under a contract with them
- refusing to engage an owner driver or forestry contractor
- discriminating against a person in the terms or conditions of the engagement.
Under the Code, hirers are also banned from terminating an owner driver or forestry contractor’s contract for being absent because of a temporary illness or incapacity, family responsibilities or similar reason, without first allowing a reasonable period for the owner driver or forestry contractor to provide a suitable replacement driver.
Make a complaint
If you have a complaint relating to a transport or forestry contract engagement, you can report it using the Wage Inspectorate complaint form.
You also have the option to make an anonymous report if you suspect someone is breaking the rules relating to owner drivers or contractors but you don’t want to provide personal information.