Transport companies ripping off workers, report shows

Almost a third of road transport businesses fail to comply with workplace laws, new report shows

Almost a third of road transport businesses are failing to comply with workplace laws, according to a report released by the Federal Workplace Ombudsman.

About 120 truck and bus drivers and other workers are likely to be reimbursed around $135,000 after workplace inspectors discovered they were underpaid.

Almost $100,000 of the underpayments occurred in the short-distance freight industry in Queensland.

The Ombudsman, which released the report following a targeted transport campaign earlier this year, says it has checked the books of 362 employers nationally and identified 114 companies with issues.

The campaign found companies were not paying correct pay-per-kilometre rates, or reimbursement for weekend, overtime and public holiday work.

The report says 20 percent of Queensland companies audited so far have breaches.

But inspectors expect the percentage to rise because it still has another 58 employers to audit.

Some 66 per cent of Victorian passenger transport businesses were found to be non-compliant, as were 45 per cent of long-distance freight businesses in regional NSW.

Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell says the campaign has helped to better inform employers’ obligations.

Although legal action is being considered in one instance, Campbell says most breaches were inadvertent and are being voluntarily rectified.

The agency wrote to more than 9000 transport industry businesses earlier this year alerting employers to the targeted campaign.

"Transport is an industry that is a source of many of our workplace queries and complaints, so education is a vital part of our role," Campbell says.

"The road transport industry has a significant number of vulnerable workers, including trainees and apprentices, and this campaign will help ensure they receive their proper entitlements."

About 100 audits still need to be finalised.

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