Western Australia Transport Minister, Rita Saffioti, has introduced the Owner-Drivers (Contracts and Disputes) Amendment Bill 2022 to Parliament.
Under the changes suggested in the Act are clarification for unfair or unjust contract provisions, misleading and deceptive conduct specifically prohibited and a workplace right of entry.
Discrimination will also become a form of unconscionable conduct as part of the changes while amendments have been tabled for the Tribunal’s powers and jurisdiction to ensure they are ‘better equipped to deliver just and efficient outcomes in dispute resolution’.
The new legislation would see a change in ‘minimum periods for termination’, where contracts greater than three months will have a 90-day minimum notice period and contracts less than three months will have a seven-day minimum notice period.
Changes in ‘a workplace right of entry’ have also been proposed, for an owner-driver’s authorised representative for the purpose of investigating suspected breaches of the Act.
Saffioti introduced the Amendment Bill to Parliament on Wednesday 22 June she said to better support owner-drivers in the transport industry.
“Owner-drivers play a vital role in our road freight transport supply chain and we want to ensure they and other small businesses are protected so they can continue this vital work,” she said.
“Our freight supply chains and transport industries are incredibly important to our economy, as we have seen recently with the disruption to the East-West rail link.”
There are also proposed amendments to ‘non-compliance with guideline rates’ which means the Road Freight Transport Industry Council will publish ‘guideline rates’ to inform industry participants when they bargain concerning rates of pay.
Non-compliance with guideline rates will be a factor relevant when the Road Freight Industry Tribunal determines whether there has been an unconscionable dealing.
On the surface the Act establishes a framework for regulating dealings between owner-drivers and their hirers, and the new Bill, according to the Western Australian Government, will provide additional protections for these small businesses and individual contractors.