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Toll forced to reinstate speeding truck driver

Toll ordered to reinstate speeding truck driver in a decision that has implications for all trucking operators

By Brad Gardner | March 18, 2011

Trucking operators that fail to explain speeding policies to their drivers risk being caught out if they sack them for breaking road limits.

Fair Work Australia has ordered Toll to reinstate tanker driver Mark Farley after it fired him for travelling 98km/h in an 80km/h zone.

Commissioner John Stanton found that Farley was unaware of Toll’s policy of immediately terminating drivers who exceed the speed limit by 15km/h.

Toll distributed an updated handbook on the speeding policy around 2008 and 2009 but did not inform its drivers of the changes, Fair Work Australia heard.

“Policies cannot be effective unless the employer makes arrangements to provide them to affected employees in an orderly way and carefully explain changes to all existing employees prior to those changes taking place,” Stanton says.

Stanton says employees need to know how to comply with policies and must be aware of the consequences for failing to do so.

“All changes made to policies must be clearly and openly communicated to employees. It follows that where changes are not properly communicated to employees, they may be of no effect,” he says.

Farley says he thought he was bound by Toll’s 2004 policy stating that drivers would be terminated immediately if they exceeded 115km/h.

He says he did not recall Toll distributing the new policy or any of its representatives explaining the changes to him.

“There was no explanatory induction or similar oral or written communication,” Stanton says.

Toll argued it had a valid reason to dismiss Farley because he failed to report the incident as required in the 2004 policy.

The company claims Farley committed serious misconduct because he risked the safety of himself and others. Toll says it had to dismiss Farley because anything less would have undermined the seriousness of the offence.

Stanton says Farley did not deliberately intend to speed and that Toll should have warned the driver.

“When considering Mr Farley’s driving record it cannot be said that it is punctuated by a plethora of wilful breaches of established speed limits. Quite the contrary,” Stanton says.

However, Stanton denied Farley’s compensation request for lost pay. The Commissioner ruled it would be inappropriate because of the gravity of the offence.

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