Cost and rate non-compliance uncovered in Victoria

Half the offences under the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act appertain to cost and rates schedules.

Wage Inspectorate Victoria has found, during an audit of engagements over a recent period, that contractors were not being prescribed rates and costs schedules at least three days prior to engagement.

It’s a key issue driving non-compliance according to the Victorian regulator who conducted an audit of 248 engagements in 2022-23 as a way of gauging compliance of the Act which requires businesses, engaging owner drivers and contractors for 30 days, to provide them the appropriate information and contracts.

These requirements aim to improve the position of those who run small businesses transporting goods or harvesting and transporting forestry products.

Other requirements looked at during the audit included prescribing the appropriate information booklet and providing a written contract that includes minimum hours of work or income level, rates to be paid, and minimum notice to end the contract or payment in lieu.

“Make sure you’re giving contractors the prescribed information, so they can accurately assess the proposed job and whether they’ll come out ahead,” said Commissioner of Wage Inspectorate Victoria, Robert Hortle.

“It’s a simple step that will foster a healthy industry and, of course, it is a legal requirement.”

The rates and costs schedules set out the typical costs of running an owner driver or forestry contractor business based on the type of vehicle or equipment being used.

They help contractors understand the typical operating costs of doing business and assess whether an offer of work will cover their operating costs and provide a return.

Wage Inspectorate Victoria suggests hirers and freight brokers keep records that show they are meeting their obligations, as they could be asked to provide them to an authorised officer.

The maximum penalty for not providing the prescribed information booklet and rates and costs schedule is $4,808 for body corporates and $962 for individuals.

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