What is an owner driver?

Under the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005, an owner driver is someone that runs a business transporting goods (but not passengers) using up to 3 vehicles supplied by them. The owner of the business must also operate one of the vehicles. The Act applies to contractors, not employees.

Tip truck owner drivers are also included.

An owner driver can be a natural person, company (except a publicly listed company) or partnership.

The Act also applies to harvesting and haulage contractors in the forestry industry.

Information booklet for owner drivers

The Victorian Owner Drivers Information Booklet is a practical resource to help owner drivers to successfully operate a business. It covers:

Hirer and freight brokers are required to give an owner driver a copy of the information booklet in certain circumstances.

Download a copy of the information booklet:

Understanding your business costs

Our rates and costs schedules outline the typical costs of running a business as an owner driver or tip truck owner driver, based on the type of vehicles that you operate. The schedules aim to help you to better understand your cost structures, and how increases and decreases in different cost items can affect profits.

The schedules do not set minimum rates of pay.

In certain circumstances, hirers and freight brokers are required to give owner drivers copies of the rates and costs schedule that relates to their vehicle.

Using written contracts

As an owner driver, you have a right to require a written contract for ongoing engagements of no fixed duration or for a period of at least 30 days or more. The written contract must specify the minimum hours of work or income level you will receive and the rates to be paid. It should also state the minimum amount of notice to be given if the contract is terminated (this generally applies if the engagement is longer than 3 months).

Giving notice of termination

Generally, where there is an ongoing engagement of at least 3 months, owner drivers and hirers must give a minimum period of notice to end a contract.

The minimum notice periods are:

  • owner driver of heavy vehicle (more than 4.5 tonnes GVM or ATM): 3 months
  • other owner drivers: 1 month

There is no requirement to give notice if the hirer is ending the contract because of serious and wilful misconduct by the owner driver, or if the contractor is ending the contract because of a material breach by the hirer.

If the owner driver considers that the notice period is not needed, they can waive the requirement by obtaining a certificate from the Victorian Small Business Commission and then giving the hirer written notice.

A hirer can choose whether to give the minimum notice period or make a payment instead of notice. Failure by a hirer to comply with this requirement is an offence and penalties may apply. Visit the hirers in transport and forestry page for more information.

Access to dispute resolution

Under the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005, hirers and contractors can contact the Victorian Small Business Commission to arrange fast and low-cost alternative dispute resolution if disagreements arise. The dispute resolution process can be used for disputes arising under or in relation to the Act, the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Code of Practice, or in relation to a contract.

Disputes that are not resolved by the Small Business Commission may be referred to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for determination.

Wage Inspectorate Victoria

Wage Inspectorate Victoria is responsible for monitoring compliance with the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005.

If you have any questions, Wage Inspectorate Victoria is available to provide information and answer queries. Please call the Information Line on 1800 287 287 or email odfc@dpc.vic.gov.au

Make a complaint

If you have a complaint relating to a transport or forestry contract engagement, you can report it using the complaint form.

You also have the option to make an anonymous report if you suspect someone is breaking the rules.

Can’t find the information you need?

Please call the Wage Inspectorate Information Line on 1800 287 287 or email odfc@dpc.vic.gov.au