We are contractors to a larger freight company, due to Covid 19 they are giving us no work. But are using temp drivers

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Customer: We are contractors to a larger freight company, due to Covid 19 they are giving us no work. But are using temp drivers and casual staff for runs instead? Can they do this as contract says they don’t have to supply work if they don’t have any
JA: Was this discussed with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: no
JA: Is the workplace "at will" or union? Is the job hourly or salaried?
Customer: we are independent contractor to the company. We got email saying runs may be suspended
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: no
Answered by Chris The Lawyer in 2 days 2 years ago
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Chris The Lawyer
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

Hi
I am a New Zealand lawyer based in Wellington and will help you with your question today. Please give me a minute to read the question

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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

They can do this if they have that clause in your contract, and they have no work. You do not have the rights of an employee because as an independent contractor, they can use the term of the contract to stop giving you work. However if they do have the work but are choosing to give it to casual and temp drivers, then that is not the correct use of this clause. You need to ask them to explain why they are giving the work to the others and assert this is not what the clause entitled them to do

Customer
This is the letter they sent us. Other than a email advising rate cuts we have not heard anything from them.
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

You need to have a discussion with them about the failure to give you work, when they are have enough to give to casual and temp workers, and suggest that this is a possible breach of the contract, and that they must prioritise contractors, otherwise they wont have any if you go broke

Customer
Due to the mix of contractors and paid staff , they don’t appear to care about losing contractors. They have done this to approx 30 contractors? If we make a fuss they may cancel our contract altogether
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

You are in a difficult position I realise. On one hand you may go broke if they do not give you the work. On the other hand if you raise the issue, they could try and cancel your contract, but that would be a breach of the contract unless they had valid reasons. And that would enable you to sue them for breach of the contract

Customer
Unfortunately contract has 30 cancellation clause, I know stupid to have signed it (signed in 2013). But feel they are taking advantage of Covid to “screw” us over!!! Not a case if may go broke we are as 2 years ago we replaced the truck! We were forced by them to purchase truck direct from them and had limited options on type of vehicle. We could have purchased direct the same vehicle cheaper? We still have $135k owing in no income????? Just no idea how to pursue without consequence of having contract cancelled. I tried to contact person responsible owner drivers on Friday but he won’t answer either my call or text message?
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

Keep trying to talk-perhaps even suggest a mediation to resolve the issues, as that is less aggressive than threatening to sue

Customer
Hmm. Very difficult and frustrating situation, they hold all the cards. Thank you for your time and help!
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

They are not being kind

Customer
No but not being kind is not illegal?? And I guess we don’t have a legal grounds to stand in
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

It is a breach of contract to say they don’t have any work for you but then give it to others
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