All workers in every field of employment need some form of legal protection. This also applies to fly-in fly-out workers. Fly-in fly-out workers are people employed in remote areas by flying them temporarily to the work site instead of relocating them and their families permanently. It is a really common mode of employment in large mining regions of Canada and Australia.
It works via a roster model where a set of employees are flown into the region for several days of work and then flown out back to their hometowns for rest while another set goes back in.
It is usually a brutal business model employed by mining and oil and gas drilling industries due to the lack of stability of sectors that deal with the extraction of resources. It helps the companies save money as there is no long-term commitment to the regions and the workers can easily be moved in and out during resource booms and scarcity, respectively.
Fly-in fly-out workers usually work long shifts of as much as twelve hours a day and have no time for recreation and other resting activities. These conditions are grounds for employee abuse and other shady activities by the companies, that is why legal protection is important. But, most times, many fly-in fly-out workers don’t know how to go about seeking legal help, especially when their rights have been infringed, or if they’ve suffered a work-related personal injury.
The great news is that this guide will provide tips for efficient legal protection for those in the fly-in-fly-out industry and even those who are thinking of joining. So, let’s dig in!
#1: Watch Out For International Recruitments
When an employer of fly-out workers, most times called FIFO workers, is located internationally, you should watch out carefully for their employee terms. Most times, national labour laws will apply if the company is registered in that particular country and is employing a person of that nationality. So, the protections like unfair dismissal provisions and minimum wage will apply to such entities.
You should make sure your contract of employment is made and signed within the country you live in to be protected by labour laws, because, many times, international labour laws are poorly enforced leading to exploitative conditions and almost slave-like contracts. You should also be careful of falling prey to fraudulent employers of FIFO workers. Always do your research before agreeing to work for an international employer.
#2: Industrial Action Rights
Industrial action is an important part of labour movements. They help give people better working conditions, better pay, and good benefits that do not exploit human capital. As a fly-in-fly-out worker, you must understand that your sector is prone to exploitation because of the many technicalities of locations and the nature of your job. So, it’s quite easy for your employer to cross the thin line between making you work long stretches of hours and overworking you.
Most nations have protections for these workers because many times, once they have flown into regions they are not familiar with, the companies can use their salaries and accommodation as bargaining chips when they start demanding better pay.
Most laws will ensure that companies cannot do that and your industrial action rights will be fully protected as you demand better pay. So, if you are considering becoming a fly-in-fly-out worker, you should familiarize yourself with the industrial action rights that pertain to your industry.
#3: Contractor or Employee
This is an important distinction for fly-in-fly-out workers because many times the terms of your contract will be filled with so much jargon that finding that distinction becomes difficult, and you may end up signing up to an exploitative agreement.
You should ask clear and direct questions to find out the conditions of your employment. Ask if you have to wear a uniform if you receive a wage or a task-based payment if you have holidays or sick leave. These questions will help you find out if you are an employee or a contractor.
You should bear in mind that many of these companies often try to avoid giving a definitive answer so as to underpay you, but you need to ask these critical questions before taking the job, no matter how desperate you may be.
Again, this is crucial because employees have more protection under labour laws.
#4: Workers Compensation
This is, perhaps, one of the first and most important things you should consider as a fly-in-fly-out worker. This is an important protection for fly-in fly-out workers. You should ensure that your compensation is comprehensive and stated in clear terms. As a fly-in-fly-out worker, the nature of the work you do makes you prone to injuries, and can eventually harm your mental health and well-being. Even worse, companies will try to avoid giving compensation using many minor technicalities. For these workers, all aspects are tied to their employment so even injuries in accommodation can be entitled to compensation as it is part of the employment.
#5: Rate Of Payment
A lot of the time, shady companies will try to pay you below the set industry standards. This is why it is important to know your rate of payment because companies will always find a way to squeeze out as much profit as possible. You should read your contract carefully and compare your rates with industry standards and your level of experience. You should also consider overtime payment and how it is enforced by the laws in your location and that of where the company is registered if it is an international contract.
#6: Use A Labour Lawyer
After all these steps have been taken, you can still employ the services of a labour lawyer which can be provided by your union if your colleagues have unionized. It will help you get a grasp of other parts like accommodation, meals, transportation, etc.
Being a fly-in-fly-out worker is a tough job, and you’ll need all the legal protection you can get to ensure that no one exploits you. As such, you should keep in mind these six tips discussed.