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New WA owner-driver bill adds protections for operators

The WA government has passed a new owner-driving bill through parliament to provide more protections for small operators

The Western Australian government has passed the Owner-Drivers (Contracts and Disputes) Amendment Bill 2022 through parliament, providing additional protections for small business and independent contractors in the road freight transport industry.

The WA government says amendments will enhance operational efficiency, safety and regulation of dealings between owner-drivers and hirers, providing benefits for all road users across the road transport network.

The changes to Owner-Drivers (Contracts and Disputes) Act 2007 are the result of years of work and extensive consultation with the Road Freight Transport Industry Council and Road Freight Industry Tribunal.

The WA government says the Department of Transport (DoT) will be working alongside industry to implement updated changes, which include the below:

  • Contracts greater than three months will have a 90-day minimum notice period and contracts less than three months a seven-day minimum notice period
  • Workplace right of entry for an owner-driver’s authorised representative for the purpose of investigating suspected breaches of the Act
  • Discrimination will be a form of unconscionable conduct under the Act
  • The Road Freight Transport Industry Council publish guideline rates to inform industry participants when they bargain rates of pay. Non-compliance with guideline rates will be a relevant factor when the Road Freight Transport Industry Tribunal determines whether there has been unconscionable conduct
  • Changes to the Tribunal’s powers and jurisdiction to ensure they are better equipped to deliver just and efficient outcomes in dispute resolution.

DoT will work with industry to prepare for the implementation of the changes which will come into effect in the first half of 2023.

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WA transport minister Rita Saffioti says the road freight industry is essential to WA’s supply chains and plays a vital role in moving freight throughout WA.

“As owner-drivers play a key role in enabling the efficient and safe movement of freight across WA, changes to the Act will help provide more protections to small business and contractors in the industry,” Saffioti says.

“It is important there are sufficient and appropriate safeguards and protections for those small business operators and better avenues for dispute resolution between owner-drivers and hirers through improved administration of the Act and Tribunal proceedings.

“The Bill helps simplify and enhance the day-to-day operations of the WA Owner-Drivers laws and contributes to safer and more sustainable operations across the WA road freight transport industry in years to come.

“Industry will continue to be consulted with in the coming months to ensure they are ready for the changes that will come into effect in the first half of 2023.”

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