Connect Legal and its principal Mr. Jake Boghossian have been defending owner drivers for over twenty (20) years throughout Australian and State courts and tribunals in relation to matters pertaining to their terminations, redundancies, hourly and kms rates of pay disputes and contracual matters.
Connect Legal understands the contractual and legal challenges Australian owner drivers are facing and provides legal assistance Australia wide in defending and safeguarding owner driver contractual and legal rights.
Connect Legal were the lead lawyers in the landmark RJ Enterprises and Booth Transport case (2012) (representing all three owner drivers) before the Full Bench of the Industrial Court of New South Wales in the legal interpretation of contract time and contract distance and its application to the General Carriers Contract Determination (the NSW Owner Drivers Award). See below.
Connect Legal deeply understands how terminations can impact owner drivers and their families and have been very successful in securing payouts for reasonable notice and redundancy / sevrenace pay.
Connect Legal and Jake Boghossian practices in all Australian jurisdictions and have extensive knowledge of all the applicable legislation that impacts owner drivers both federally and state wide.
Connect Legal also provides its legal services on a NO WIN NO FEE basis, which means you will only be charged a legal fee if we are successul in resolving your owner driver claim.
Accordingly if you want to effectively defend your owner driver rights please contact Connect Legal and its principal Mr. Jake Boghossian for a free phone consultation and assessment.
Hourly and Kilometre Pay Rates.
The most fundamental issue Australian owner drivers are facing today is the remuneration (pay) they receive for their hours of work, the kilometres driven, and the provision of a specialised motor lorry. From prime mover driver owners in Melbourne, 12-tonne drivers in Sydney, 8-tonne owner drivers in Brisbane to road train drivers in Dubbo, owner drivers have a legal right to be paid a fair and sustainable rate.
Regrettable as it may sound, NSW is the only jurisdiction that provides legal minimum rates (both hourly and kilometres) that transport companies are required to pay their owner drivers.
The General Carriers Contract Determination (the NSW owner drivers award ) which had been in operation since 1984, was poorly drafted, and for 28 years Sydney owner drivers had lived in a legal vacuum, not clearly understanding its proper workings, and how contract time and distance were calcualted.
Accordingly, it was through the efforts of Connect Legal, Jake Boghossian and 3 Sydney based owner drivers, Rade Josifovski (Booth Transport), Valentine Georgiev (Gregory’s Transport) and Wayne Sterling (General Carrying) that a landmark decision was made regarding the proper interpretation of contract time and contract distance. Pursaunt to the decison Sydney owner drivers started receiving a fair and reasonable hourly and kilometre rate and one which complied with the Determination.
Unfortunately in each and every other jurisdiction we practice in (VIC, WA, QLD and SA), there are no minimum legal hourly and/or kilometre rates that owner drivers are required to be paid.
In relation to Victoria, yes there are guideline rates published by the Victorian Transport Industry Council, but these rates are not mandatory and owner drivers are at the mercy of transport companies. The Victorian Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act does have broad powers of enforcement in relation to rates, but again, this is a very cumbersome process.
In Western Australia, the WA Government have also published gazetted rates, but again they are not mandatory and transport companies have no legal obligation to pay these rates. The gazetted rates are a guide and once more WA owner drivers have to access the industrial tribunals and/or the courts to recover a safe and sustainable rate.
Accordingly, Australian owner drivers are deemed ‘price takers’, we accept what we are paid and we have to make ends meet.
Connect Legal and Jake Boghossian are mindful of all these issues and please contact our office to discuss matters in relation to your remuneration, hourly and kilometre rates of pays.
Dismissal and Termination Claims
Whenever an owner driver's contract is terminated , the consequences are far reaching affecting their cash flow, their loan repayments and their families. Furthermore, an owner driver can take a significant time to find alternative work, especially when they have a larger or specialised motor lorry, and thereby it essential to defend their termination in a timely and effective manner.
Throughout Australia difference laws exist to assist owner drivers in relation to their dismissal and redundancy claims.
Recently our office has received a significant amount of calls from owner drivers saying:
“I have no idea why I got the sack;”
“I did everything right and I was undercut by another transport company and my company where I had worked for many years did not even consult me;”
“I bent backwards for my company and I just got a call saying don’t come back to work.”
Indeed, transport companies have a right to terminate the contract of any owner driver, but there is a requirement implied at law that:
- there has to be consultation regarding the termination and/or restructure;
- the payment of reasonable notice;
- compensation for any other monetary losses.
Accordingly, please do not hesitate to contact Connect Legal and Jake Boghossian to understand your legal rights in defending your dismissal and termination and how we can provide specialised legal advice.
Contracts and Goodwill
Another pressing issue for Australian owner drivers is the contracts they work under and their goodwill arrangements. The contract is the essence of the relationship between the transport company and the owner driver and it is imperative that whenever an owner driver commences work they have a written contract to safeguard their rights not limited to: rates of pay, goodwill and termination notice.
Nevertheless, our experience has been that significant amount of owner drivers are entering into transport arrangements and their rights have not been properly safeguarded.
Recently a Queensland owner driver rang and explained:
“I was told to purchase a prime mover with a higher crane, spending over $200 000 on a mac and in over 4 months I was told ‘we no longer need you’.”
Another Victorian owner driver rang and said:
'I paid $140,000 for a truck and run with a view to having work for a couple of years and after 15 months I was informed that my services were no longer required and I was also not able to sell the truck and run to any other buyer.”
Another WA owner driver rang and said:
“I was promised yearly rate rises and the company is not abiding by their promises.”
These above scenarios demonstrate the need for written contracts, which safeguards one’s rights, especially when outlaying significant amount of funds.
In this regard, if you have paid goodwill and have not received significant compensation on termination and/or have not been allowed to on sell your truck and or run, please contact Connect Legal and Jake Boghossian for a confidential discussion.
Regrettably Melbourne and or Victorian owner drivers have no award and or determination to enforce minimum hourly and or kms rates like they do in NSW . The Victorian Government have published guideline rates , which only provide observations as to what constitutes a fair and reasonable rate. However, they are only a guide and cannot be enforced in a court of law as the minimum payment for a prime mover driver. The lack of minimum legal rates has been a major issue for Victorian owner drivers for over 15 years and till date there has not been one comprehensive judgement on these guideline rates. Nevertheless , there are solutions such as unfair contracts claims which Connect Legal has undertaken at least to recover what might be a fair and sustainable rate.
The simple answer is no to redundancy and or severance pay. However, you are entitled to minimum notice provision under the Victorian Owner driver laws. Please ensure that if your owner driver contract is terminated for business and or operational reasons, to seek a termination letter to confirm your unfortunate termination and the specific reason.
I am a Brisbane based owner driver, driving a B double combination for over 4 years, transporting quarry materials. Last week the transport manager informed me that my owner driver contract was being terminated because there was s shortage of work. I actually do not believe him because they have been hiring other owner drivers and I have been raising breaches of chain of responsibility. Please advice.
Firstly, there is a need to obtain a termination letter because your past employer may deny ever terminating you and allege you just walked off. Weekly we receive calls like your when owner drivers have been terminated without a termination letter and we respectfully say " please obtain a termination " and they say " they will not give one". Indeed there are solutions for this type of behaviour and please contact our office for further information. Second in relation to your complaints about chain of responsibility breaches , these are very serious issues as you are aware as an owner driver. Maybe this is the real reason for termination and not we are slow. We have acted successfully over 20 years for owner drivers Australia wide and please contact our office for a confidential discussion.
In Western Australia there is legislation that can assist owner drivers in remedying a situation as yours. Our position is that after seven years of work and there being a shortage of work , one months notice is insufficient. We can access both the state tribunal and of the Federal Circuit Court in helping you recover what might be deemed " reasonable notice".
Yes there is, Under the NSW legislation, we can instigate a case for the recovery of goodwill, but there are very strict time limitations (90 days) plus you need to overcome various legal requirements. These cases are problematic and hence please contact Connect Legal early to assist.
Firstly, the General Carriers Contract Determination does not apply because you are not defined as an owner driver under the NSW Industrial Relations Laws. In NSW owner drivers are defined as one man and his truck undertaking contracts of carriage. Hence there are no minimum legal rats your principal contractor should be remunerating you. Second, there are both common law and statutory provision with which we can assist in recovering reasonable notice. Five trucks is a reasonable operations and finding alternative work will take time. Please ring Connect Legal for a confidential discussion.
We regularly receive these types of inquiries from owner drivers Australia and as is the case in South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia there are no mandatory legal rates that principal contractors need to remunerate owner drivers. However, the rate you are receiving has to be fair and reasonable considering, the size of the vehicle, gross vehicle weight, trailer combination, age, the goods you are transporting and the applicable fuel price. We have assisted owner drivers before and please contact our office for a confidential chat.
I am a Regional Victorian based owner driver, driving a 12 tonne heavy rigid and transporting chilled goods from Regional Victoria to Melbourne and back. Lately I raised serious chain of responsibility issues , but management do not seem to change their ways. Furthermore they have reduced my work from five days to three days and I have found this very odd. Please advise.
Owner drivers like yourself sometimes do face this dilemma where work dries up and or your days are reduced. We understand your business runs on a 5 day - 45 hour model and when your days and hours are reduced it hits the bottom line. I know it sounds difficult to do , but you need to place your concerns in writing and ask for the reasons for the reduction in work. You will also need to check your contract as to what it says about hours of work. In relation to the safety issue, this maybe the underlying reason your days are drying up, but safety before profits as they say and you should continue to raise these issues in writing more forcefully as and when it happens.
Once again there are legal mandatory hourly and or kilometre rates interstate owner drivers should be paid. However, there are provisions under various Commonwealth Legislation that can deem various rates unfair and we can retrospectively have them adjusted.
Yes we do, Connect Legal has acted for owner drivers in many regional cities and country towns. Driving and or flying out to see owner drivers and understand their predicament has been a pleasure of Jake's for over 20 plus years.
Our legal services will be undertaken on a No Win No Fee basis as has been the case from inception when we commenced defending employee rights in the late 90s. We will provide a written costs agreement outlining our No Win No Fee policy and will provide an estimate of the applicable fees.