The Fair Work Ombudsman: What It Means When Moving House

Have you heard of the Road Safety ­Remuneration Tribunal? It was established by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2012 and regulates fees and conditions for the transportation of goods via road in Australia. These goods might be a large corporation sending their product from one side of the country to the other, or it might be a family who are moving house. The Road Safety ­Remuneration Tribunal ceased operations in April 2016. So what does this mean when you need to hire a removals company? Has anything changed?

Self Employed Removalists

The new legislation governing smaller removalists are now under the auspices of the Fair Work Ombudsman. This only applies if you are looking to hire an owner operator. The individuals who operate a removals company in this way are classified as self-employed. They do the work themselves, and they own their truck. Under the conditions set out by the Fair Work Ombudsman, these operators need to be paid a minimum rate. This minimum rate can vary significantly depending on the distance to be travelled and the size of the truck in question.

A Surprisingly Low Rate

The operator might charge you an attractive set rate to transport your belongings. Be wary of a rate that seems surprisingly low. It is possible that the operator has charged you a rate below the minimum requirement in order to appear competitive. The bad news is that you could be liable for a fine of up to $10,800 for engaging the services of an operator at below the minimum required rate. The onus is on you to check.

Checking Compliance

So how do you check? You will need to ask the operator if they are in fact a self-employed owner operator. If they are, you need to confirm that the quoted rate is in line with the minimum required rates as set out by the Fair Work Ombudsman (both in terms of the distance to be travelled and the size of their vehicle). If the operator does not know, you can ask them to check. You can also check with the Fair Work Ombudsman yourself, and you should do so in writing in order to prove that you have made the relevant compliance checks before engaging the services of the operator.

Using a Larger Company

You can also avoid this whole issue by hiring an actual moving company, rather than a self-employed operator. Larger companies are not considered to be a temporary employee by the Fair Work Ombudsman so the idea of being held liable for an illegal underpayment simply does not apply.

Most operators will quote you a legally appropriate rate when you enquire, but if a quote seems just a little bit too competitive, you should make some enquiries of your own.