It appears likely that many in the agribusiness sector will be caught by the onerous obligations imposed as a result of the Road Safety Remuneration Act 2012 (the Act).
The Actestablished the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) and was introduced by the Labor government as a means to try and reduce risks arising from pressures on road transport drivers in Australia.
The RSRT’s primary function is to make road safety remuneration orders. These orders are intended to reduce the pressures on road transport drivers by setting out minimum standards for engagement of road transport drivers.
The orders impose obligations on employers or hirers of road transport drivers, consignors or consignees of goods transported by a road transport driver, parties to a contract for the carriage of goods by a road transport driver, and the operators of premises used by road transport drivers to load or unload an average of at least five vehicles each day.
The RSRT’s first road safety remuneration order (Order) commenced 1 May 2014 and will be in force (unless the Coalition government abolishes the RSRT and underlying legislation) until 30 April 2018. A contravention of the Order exposes a body corporation to financial penalties of up to $51,500 and $10,200 for an individual. The full Order and other details about the RSRT are accessible at http://www.rsrt.gov.au/.
The features of the Order which will likely be of greatest interest to agribusiness include:
- payment time within 30 days of a received invoice for contractor drivers
- written contracts for road transport drivers, which may be in an electronic format
- contracts between supply chain participants
- safe driving plans for drivers undertaking long distance operations in a motor vehicle with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of more than 4.5 tonnes
- training in work health and safety
- drug and alcohol policies
- dispute resolution and adverse conduct protection.
Many agribusinesses will have had no or little previous exposure to this type of regulation, which is more akin to the regulation imposed upon employers by industrial awards.
The major implication of the Order on agribusinesses is clear – agribusinesses will need to carefully review any of their arrangements which involve road transport drivers, even if they do not directly engage the drivers. This will assist an agribusiness determine whether it is caught by the Order.
Agribusinesses caught by the Order should make sure they fully understand their obligations and how their business must respond to new duties and requirements, and consider seeking legal advice to ensure they comply.
Author: Joel Zyngier
Charles Power, Partner
T: +61 3 9321 9942
Ron Eames, Partner
T: +61 7 3135 0629
This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed above.