ARTIO seeks changes to transport awards

ARTIO wants changes to transport awards to address confusion on pay and stop drivers from 'double dipping' against employers

By Brad Gardner | March 13, 2012

The trucking industry’s peak industrial relations representative body wants changes to transport awards to end confusion over remuneration and to prevent drivers from "double dipping" against their employers.

The Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation (ARTIO) has sought Fair Work Australia’s approval for amendments to the Road Transport and Distribution Award and the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award.

Fair Work Australia’s Modern Awards Review is currently underway, and the ARTIO wants it to re-examine the classification structures for truck drivers to make sure they match up between both awards.

In its submission covering the Long Distance Award, the ARTIO highlights that someone driving a six-axle articulated truck under the Award is classified under Grade 4, whereas the Transport and Distribution Award lists them under Grade 6.

"This creates confusion and uncertainty especially as many drivers work under both awards and often within the same pay periods," the submission reads.

It goes on to highlight the different allowances each award provides for a furniture carter.

"This creates confusion and leads to mistakes in pay being made as many in administration/payroll do not check specifically on such issues," the ARTIO says.

Under its proposed changes, ordinary hours of work for long distance drivers will be 38 hours but worked on the basis of 40 hours that will include two hours accrued toward a rostered day off.

The ARTIO says drivers should be limited to 120 hours in any fortnight, with 76 hours being counted as ordinary time.

In its separate submission covering the Road Transport and Distribution Award, the ARTIO wants a clause inserted to state a driver should only be paid the $30.33 daily allowance for being away from home if the employer does not provide accommodation and meals.

"This variation is sought to ensure that any employee travelling and unable to return at night will not be paid the allowance when all costs, including accommodation and meals, are paid or reimbursed by the employer," the submission says.

"This will avoid any potential for ‘double dipping’."

Furthermore, the ARTIO wants drivers under the Long Distance Award to be paid an allowance of 1.24 percent of the standard rate each time they are required to temporarily complete duties that fall under the Road Transport and Distribution Award.

The submission also touches on fatigue management laws, with the ARTIO claiming the rest requirements conflict with the breaks under the Road Transport and Distribution Award.

It wants a variation to the Award so that breaks are taken at a time that coincides with fatigue management requirements.

"It should remove the confusion of a meal break being taken then an employee immediately thereafter taking a fatigue break or vice versa," the group says.

"It is much more efficient and will improve productivity if these breaks coincide."

The submission also claims there are problems with the practice of providing employees with a meal or allowance if they work overtime for two continuous hours.

According to the group, there is confusion over whether someone working on a Saturday or Sunday should receive an allowance. It has sought changes to the Award to clarify the issue.

"This proposed variation removes that confusion by requiring that any overtime must be continuous with ‘ordinary hours’ before the entitlement to a meal allowance arises," the submission says.

Fair Work Australia is conducting a review of all modern awards as part of the requirements set down in the Fair Work Act that was introduced in 2009. The Act required the industrial umpire to begin the review two years after the safety net provisions in Act were implemented on January 1, 2010.

"Therefore the tribunal must conduct the review as soon as practicable after January 1, 2012," Fair Work Australia says.

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