By now you should have heard about the Federal Government’s proposed new workplace legislation, the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill.
The parts that directly affect the road transport industry form a small part of a much larger package, and we will summarise it in simple terms in this article.
Firstly, it is not yet law. Legislation needs to pass both Houses of Parliament before that can occur. The legislation will be examined by a Senate inquiry, so it will be some time in 2024 before it passes into law, is amended, or is rejected.
The biggest change as the legislation stands is an expansion of the role of the Fair Work Commission (FWC).
The new law would give the FWC the power to issue an Order or a Guideline, supported by regulations, to determine how road transport can operate.
These Orders or Guidelines would be determined by an Expert Panel, which would be a body made up of either part-time members with expertise in road transport or appropriately qualified FWC members.
The Expert Panel would also have power to make, vary or revoke a modern award that might relate to the road transport industry.
Orders could not replace existing Heavy Vehicle National Law, or Work Health and Safety laws.
The Expert Panel would consider the need for a safety net of minimum standards for so-called road transport workers and employees in the industry, but these standards would be required to ensure the road transport industry is safe, sustainable and viable.
Standards need to avoid unreasonable adverse impacts on competition, business viability, innovation and productivity, and administrative and compliance costs.
A Road Transport Advisory Group (RTAG) would be appointed by the Minister to support the FWC in carrying out its functions relating to road transport. RTAG members would need to be from organisations entitled to represent contractors or businesses in industrial matters.
Industry consultation would need to occur and 24 months’ notice given before changes take effect.
We will explain more in future newsletters. Meanwhile, if you have questions you can send them here.
Take a look at other items from the 13 September 2023 Newsletter here.