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NSW Owner Drivers Still Get no Payment for Fatigue Breaks

NSW Owner Drivers Still Get no Payment for Fatigue Breaks

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) has lost its appeal against the ruling that found owner drivers in NSW should not be paid when taking fatigue management breaks.

According to a post on, the Industrial Relations Commission has upheld a ruling which denies payment for fatigue breaks to owner-drivers in NSW.

Commissioner Peter Newall’s ruling that owner drivers working under the transport industry not be paid for taking mandatory fatigue breaks was upheld by the full bench of the Industrial Relations Commission after the appeal to have Newall’s decision overturned was denied. Newall believes that fatigue management breaks like meal breaks are an interruption to work and therefore should go unpaid for owner-drivers.

The article on also mentioned the 10 owner drivers who had been mistakenly paid by Linfox for taking fatigue management breaks. That incident is what brought the issue to light.

The following excerpt from the article on explains further:

The full bench of the Industrial Relations Commission has upheld commissioner Peter Newall’s finding that owner-drivers working under the Transport Industry — General Carriers Contract Determination should not be paid for taking fatigue breaks required by law.

Newall found that the breaks were an “interruption to work”, similar to meal breaks which are not paid for.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) appealed Newall’s decision, but the full bench found that drivers taking fatigue breaks are “not performing any physical or mental labour” related to their contract.


The article also went on to quote Commission president and Justice Michael Walton who stated:

“Therefore, as a matter of ordinary language, rest time (or a fatigue break) is an interruption to work,”

“There does not appear to us to be any basis for distinguishing a lunch break from a fatigue break…a meal break is to be regarded as an interruption to work that is not included in contract time. Similarly, a fatigue break is an interruption to work and not included in contract time.”

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The Transport Workers Union launched the appeal and argued that fatigue breaks should be paid for because owner-drivers are required to take them under the law.

Fatigue breaks as we know are a crucial aspect of road safety, after all a person driving fatigued is just as likely to crash as a person driving under the influence of alcohol.

The fatigue management payment issue was brought to the forefront when Linfox did not increase the rates of 10 owner drivers in line with requirements in the contract determination.

Linfox had made the decision to hold off on the increases in order to offset the payments it had mistakenly made to owner drivers for fatigue management breaks.

Although the commission upheld the initial ruling, the matter between Linfox and the owner-drivers was left for them to sort out. The commission directed the TWU and the company to come to an agreement whether the company could underpay the owner-drivers to offset the overpayments.

Legislation requires all parties in the supply chain to take all reasonable steps to prevent the fatigue of heavy vehicle drivers. Chain of Responsibility Australia offers Fatigue Management Training covering items such as the basics of fatigue management, fatigue management legislation, warning signs of fatigue as well as practices to manage fatigue. To find out more about fatigue management training click here.