Nolan’s calls for more time to reorganise for RSRO

By: Anjali Behl


The Queensland based company highlights key concerns in its submission to RSRT to delay the order

Nolan’s calls for more time to reorganise for RSRO
A Nolan's Interstate Transport B-double.

 

Three months is insufficient time to make necessary business changes to comply with the 'safe rates' change, Nolan’s Interstate Transport says in its submission to the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT).

The 2016 Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Roads Safety Remuneration Order (2016 RSRO) is a "significant transformational change" and the Tribunal must give businesses sufficient time to budget, allocate costs and make operational changes to comply with it, the company says.

In the submission, Nolan’s director Darren Nolan calls for the order to be delayed until January 1, 2017, adding that "even an implementation date of January 1, 2017 is most likely not enough to make the necessary changes".

The company highlights issues such as additional cost to business and ambiguity in the parameters to determine who qualifies for a contract driver in its request for delay.

The submission comes after the RSRT decided to hold talks with industry members and called for written submissions on the concerns of transport operators.

The company moves perishable refrigerated, chillier and freezer freight across regional Queensland and while it employees some drivers full-time, it also relies on contract drivers to transport freight, particularly in the refrigerated produce sector that depends on seasonal variables.

Nolan’s says it engages a number of contractors on an ad hoc basis and given the complexities of the order there is insufficient time to determine who is defined as a contract driver, leaving much room for ambiguity and potential error.

"The order does not address back load rates, both full and partial and what payment methods we are to pay as a hirer," it says.

"As such the current effective date does not allow enough time for the company to assess how we are to manage and implement payment for these types of loads."

Understanding and confirming the types of vehicles used to carry the freight requires more time than is currently available, it adds.

"If the company engages a contractor to transport five pallets, we would assume that the contractor would use a single trailer.

"However, the contractor could arrive with a B-double trailer, which would require the contractor to be paid at a higher rate."

Such situations can pile on additional costs to the company.

The submission also highlights that currently there is no fool-proof verification system to monitor the routes and waiting times for ad hoc services supplied by contract drivers, which is a grave concern for the business as it cannot confirm whether the hourly rate it pays the contract drivers is accurate.

There are "no verification systems in place" to examine hours, kilometres, waiting time and charges.

Like many other transport operators, Nolan’s Transport also uses rate cards to calculate driver payments and these cards will need to be modified to reflect the RSRO changes but the current effective date "does not allow enough time to make these changes", it says.

One of the major concerns highlighted in the submission is the cost of employing more administratiive staff to assist during the transition period of implementing the changes in business operations.

This is an additional cost to the business "added to the higher payment rates specified", the submission says.

The existing customer contracts do not allow for amendments to a fee structure which means that the company will have to bear all the additional costs associated with complying with the order.

This will have a significant financial impact on the business and affect its ability to remain competitive in the market.

The submission also lists the number hours the company management has invested so far in investigating and seeking counsel to understand the technicalities of the order.

"Interpreting the complex wording of the order has been difficult and has required the services of legal counsel at a major cost to the business," the submission says.

"This advice has taken time to organise and has left little time for any business changes required to be ready for the current effective date."

It also mentions the lack of clarification from the Fair Work Ombudsman on issues such as "make up of split consignments, multiple hire, education and basic clarification on the steps the company needs to take in order to comply with the order.

"Despite multiple requests to the Fair Work Ombudsman these questions still remain unanswered."

The company suggests that the contract drivers it hires will also need "more time" to comply with the changes.

The submission states that the company made enquiries with "many" of its contract drivers and "found that a large proportion of them lack the sufficient systems to satisfy the requirements under the order for invoicing or calculating".

Nolan says that the company will comply with the order in case the delay is not approved; however, he asserts that the current time frame is not enough to carry out the required changes.

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