Am I getting a fair deal? Owner Drivers (Dec 2012)

At ODA we're looked at the way owner-drivers can get 'screwed over' by unfair contracts and arrangements with transport operators. Here's our 'Am I getting a fair deal?' check lists and questionnaires. Check this out for yourself.

For existing owner-drivers

For new owner-drivers

If you want fairness, check out

Fair Deal Check List and Questions

Existing Owner-drivers

"This questionnaire is designed as a check list to assist existing Owner Driver carriers looking for a suitable new Transport Operator that adheres to the concepts of a "fair and equitable return" for their work. The Questionnaire is supported by Transport Operators that recognise the importance of Owner Drivers to the Industry and support in providing an independent national support membership for Owner Drivers and provide independent services to new entrants and existing members"

  • Does your Transport Operator not deliver enough work for you to make a fair living?
    Your contract would normally provide an expectation of a minimum level of work providing a minimum level of reliable income; is this the case? Does reality measure up to the contract.

  • Does your Transport Operator display favouritism in the allocation of work?
    Does the allocation of your work follow a pattern of being "overload" work at peak busy times with long spells of no work, rather than a mix of fixed runs and ad hoc work.

  • Does your Contract provide a Owner Driver Rate schedule that makes it impossible to earn a fair days income without working excessive hours?
    After working for a reasonable period of time you will be able to determine that the time and costs of doing the work at the contract rates is uneconomic. If your transport Operator says you don't work hard enough look for high turnover of staff and a disgruntled workforce.

  • Does the detailed work and $return contained within your contract not measure up to the reality of your income over a 4 to 6 month period to avoid seasonal fluctuations?
    Given that you give a reasonable time to assess your average earning against what was held out to you then your Transport Operator does not subscribe to the fair return principle we are advocating. Take action to correct or move on. You are an independent Contractor and your services are in demand. Look out for verbal as opposed to written contract commitments repeatedly broken promises, up and down levels of work being allocated. Is the fleet simply too large for the customer base? It is your contractual right to know.

  • Is the contract of carriage and the procedure by which you are required to engage with the customer transparent to you as an independent Owner Driver?
    Transparency of these matters is fundamental to the concept of a fair and equitable return. Regular Carrier meetings, well detailed payment schedules, clearly defined rates, and a process of raising queries without a negative reaction from the Transport Operator all are signs of the right Operator to provide your services to.

For New Owner-drivers

"This questionnaire is designed to assist new entrants to the Industry to ask the right questions to ensure that the get the "fair and equitable return" for their work. The Questionnaire is supported by Transport Operators that recognise the importance of Owner Drivers to the Industry and support in providing an independent national support membership for Owner Drivers, that provide independent services to new entrants and existing members".

  • How will your remuneration be calculated? As a % of the customer bill or at and agreed rate?
    Either option is OK, it is important however to be clear on the terms of the contract you are operating under; sometimes the figures provided by Transport Operators are standard billing rates rather than the actual billing rates charged for the work you do. If this happens it is a secret commission and illegal.

  • When is the last time the remuneration contract updated?
    Look for CPI indexing, or annual, half yearly or quarterly update of carrier rates being in your contract.

  • Look for the terms and conditions of your transport Operators contract with customers!
    Look for especially the liability of carriage provisions to ensure that you as the owner driver are not incorporated into liability. Obtain independent opinion if you are unsure and ask to see the customer agreement and the freight contract terms and conditions to protect your position.

  • Are you operating under a private company structure? Be clear about your responsibilities in relation to BAS (GST & PAYG), Work Cover, and check to see you are covered by appropriate insurance, assurance, and super arrangements that cover your income in the event of sickness, accident, partial or permanent disability?
    These are key critical hidden costs of operating as an owner driver and need you need to go through a check list to ensure you are covered. Having a system of monthly deductions set up against your income for PAYG, GST, insurance, assurance (life), super, vehicle finance, servicing is the best way to provide for these costs and ensure that you don't have any nasty surprises!!

  • Does your Transport Operator have Police and Drug checks to comply with Industry quality assurance? Do they have a policy of OH&S guidelines under which they operate to protect their Owner Drivers, and do they have an IT System that covers this freight being carried?
    Today's Industry is about prevention by the Transport Operator operating appropriate process systems for their Owner Drivers; check and ask for these to be provided for in your contract.

  • Does your Transport Operator have modern dispatch, RT, GPS and PDA system that he provides his Owner Drivers? If so is it explained and the cost charged to you detailed in your contract. Is training in its use provided before you start operating so you understand your responsibilities for sign on, response, pick up, delivery? Your correct operation of this system may indeed affect your payment.
    Today's Owner Drivers operate in ever more congested road systems; the ability to make money as an Owner Driver depends very much on the level of Technology provided by your Transport Operator, its cost to you, and the adequacy of training in its use.

  • What special privileges are provided you by your Transport operator vehicle loan in the event of accident, vehicle finance arrangements, servicing arrangements (tyres, recommended preventive maintenance), vehicle purchase arrangements? Are these privileges written into your contract?
    You are an Owner Driver and effectively an independent contractor. Your Transport Operator should provide these privileges to their Owner Drivers using their fleet size to obtain the best of pricing and service.

  • What dispute, resolution provisions are in your contract?
    Better to be prepared in the event of a dispute with your Transport Operator; having the rules of dispute resolution spelt out up front is a great sign that the Transport Operator recognises the importance of fairness.

  • How does your contract allocate work to you? Is it by territory area, type of work, seniority, other?
    The definition of these arrangements in your contract are very important to assure you have a clear understanding of how your work is provided and under what terms.

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