Enterprise Agreement Guidelines

Overseas Travel

Entitlement to travel on official business

  1. With the approval of the Prime Minister, an employee (usually one) may accompany:
    1. a Minister; or
    2. a Parliamentary Secretary.
    The Prime Minister’s approval for an employee’s travel should be sought in the same submission as the employing Office Holder’s proposed overseas travel.
  2. Under the Parliamentary Entitlements Act 1990, certain Office Holders may be accompanied by one or two employees on official travel overseas.
  3. All travel by accompanying employees, including travel in advance of the entitled employing Office Holder, must be in accordance with the official itinerary. In the case of an employee of a Minister, Parliamentary Secretary or Presiding Officer, the official itinerary and any subsequent changes to that itinerary must be approved by the Prime Minister.
  4. Employees who depart from the official itinerary for personal travel or other reasons not approved will be personally responsible for meeting all travel costs, including the cost of airfares as such travel is outside entitlement and represents a debt to the Commonwealth subject to the debt recovery arrangements at clause 35 of the Enterprise Agreement. In relation to airfares, the Department will recover the cost of individual sectors to all destinations outside of the official itinerary. The Department will obtain sector fares from its travel service provider. Where the fare price for the actual travel dates is not available, the fare price available on the day of the request will be used to calculate the debt.

For example, the official itinerary approves travel to three destinations, Los Angeles, Washington DC and London. The employee travels on a round-the-world airfare but does not fly direct between Los Angeles and Washington DC. Instead, the employee travels via an unapproved destination, Chicago, overnight, and travels two additional travel sectors, from Los Angeles to Chicago and from Chicago to Washington DC. In this case, the employee will be responsible for the cost of fares between Los Angeles and Washington DC and would not be eligible for any travelling allowances, (i.e. incidentals, meals or accommodation) for overnight stays that occur between Los Angeles and Washington DC.

  1. The employee must ensure that the Department receives a copy of the official itinerary before the commencement of travel in order for all necessary funding arrangements to occur before departure.
  2. Employees are on duty when on official travel overseas although their itineraries may include rest periods at the discretion of their employing Office Holder (in accordance with paragraphs 11-15) or as approved in the official itinerary by the Prime Minister. Where an employee departs from the official itinerary for personal travel or other reasons not approved, except as a result of personal illness, the employee will be considered to be on annual leave for that period. Where an employee is unable to work due to personal illness when on official travel overseas, the employee should apply for personal leave.

Class of travel

  1. An employee of a Minister or Parliamentary Secretary may travel at business class only. In exceptional circumstances, the Prime Minister may approve first class travel if the Minister or Parliamentary Secretary is travelling first class.
  2. An employee of the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, a Presiding Officer or a Leader of a Minority Party must travel at a class of travel that is no higher than business class.
  3. Employees are responsible for ensuring at the time of booking and at check-in that they travel within entitlement. Where an employee travels outside of entitlement, e.g. first class travel not approved by the Prime Minister, the portion of travel expenses outside of entitlement is a debt recoverable by the Commonwealth in accordance with clause 35 of the Enterprise Agreement.
  4. Travel within Australia connecting with an international flight is subject to the class of travel rules applying to domestic travel set out in Determination 2015/10 (and/or any determination which supersedes, supplements or amends it).

Rest periods and stopovers

  1. Rest periods of between 12 and 24 hours during or immediately after the completion of official travel overseas recognise that employees may need to recover from jet lag. Rest periods are not a debit against an employee’s annual or personal leave entitlements.
  2. Where travel by the most direct route in accordance with the official itinerary crosses at least six time zones, or travelling time is for 12 or more hours, employees may be granted one rest period at the discretion of their employing Office Holder to be taken upon arrival at the destination.
  3. Where a rest period approved as part of the official itinerary occasions an overnight stay, employees will be entitled to be paid incidental allowance and have their accommodation and meal expenses met by the Department.
  4. Where the official itinerary includes a scheduled stopover of six or more hours but less than 12 hours, employees who are accompanying their employing Office Holder on official business are entitled to accommodation, meal expenses and the incidental allowance in accordance with paragraphs 23-29.
  5. Where an unavoidable and unscheduled stopover of 12 or more hours occurs during the official itinerary, the stopover will be treated as a rest period in accordance with paragraphs 11-14 and the employee will not be entitled to a rest period at his or her next destination.

Travel expenses

  1. The Department meets the following travel expenses based on the official itinerary:
    1. fares – includes airfares (actual costs are paid directly to the travel service provider) and ground transport costs such as taxi fares and other car with driver services when accompanying their employing Office Holder which are in support of the official itinerary;
    2. accommodation (actual costs are paid by the relevant Australian post(s) on behalf of the Department). However, overnight accommodation in Australia at either the commencement or end of official travel overseas is subject to the domestic travelling allowance provisions as outlined in clause 62 of the Enterprise Agreement, the Domestic Travel Guideline, the Travelling Allowance Guideline and the Motor Vehicle Allowance Guideline;
    3. meals (i.e. breakfast, lunch and/or dinner only) where taken in the hotel(s) of stay - (actual costs are paid by the relevant Australian post(s) on behalf of the Department);
    4. reimbursement of additional meal expenses (breakfast, lunch and/or dinner only) where taken outside the hotel(s) of stay;
    5. baggage and personal effects insurance as outlined in paragraphs 17-19;
    6. reimbursement of passport charges, including the cost of passport photos;
    7. excess baggage charges;
    8. departure tax from overseas airports;
    9. essential vaccinations or medical supplies required for travel;
    10. emergency or essential medical, dental or hospital treatment while overseas; and
    11. reimbursement of reasonable laundry and dry-cleaning expenses where travel is for seven or more consecutive days. Where employees personally incur such expenses, itemised receipts should be forwarded to the Department on completion of travel. Where receipts are not available, employees must individually itemise all laundry and dry‑cleaning expenses in a statutory declaration. Otherwise, the Department will not reimburse such expenses.

Insurance

  1. The Department provides employees authorised to travel on official business overseas with travel insurance as follows:
    1. compensation for lost or damaged baggage and personal effects belonging to the employee or for which the employee is responsible up to a maximum of $5,000;
    2. full replacement value where lost items are replaced with a like item and ‘fair value’ (i.e. a depreciated amount) where the item is not replaced and monetary compensation is sought;
    3. compensation for lost money belonging to the employee or for which the employee is responsible up to a maximum of $500;
    4. the reasonable cost of necessities if baggage is delayed for more than 24 hours; and
    5. the cost of emergency overseas medical expenses, including access to SOS International. SOS International provides a 24-hour world wide medical information and assistance service.
  2. Travel insurance does not cover loss, destruction, damage or liability arising from the deliberate disregard by the employee of the need to take all reasonable steps to prevent losses.
  3. The Department is the policy holder. In accordance with the policy, employees must notify the Department within 30 days of the loss or damage occurring and complete and return all relevant forms to the Department for processing.
  4. A claim for travel insurance will not be paid:
    1. if the employee has received or is entitled to receive a payment from an insurance company in respect of the lost or damaged item; or
    2. if the employee has received or is entitled to receive, restitution from a person or organisation, e.g. an airline, liable for the loss or damage.

Individual traveller entitlements

  1. In addition to travel expenses listed under paragraph 16, employees may be entitled to one or more of the following allowances:
    1. incidental allowance;
    2. equipment allowance; and
    3. meal allowance.
  2. Changes to the official itinerary in relation to allowances specified under paragraph 21 will be taken into account on completion of travel.
Incidental allowance
  1. All employees are entitled to a daily allowance for incidental expenditure and will be notified in writing by the Department of the calculation of the allowance and the total amount payable, where possible, prior to travel. This allowance is set in accordance with rates determined by an independent organisation from time to time, based on current market data. The allowance is calculated in accordance with the official itinerary using the foreign currency exchange rates for the overseas locality available on the day the calculation is made.
  2. The amount that an employee is entitled to be paid for incidental expenses will be dependent on the arrival and departure times at an overseas locality as approved in the official itinerary and in accordance with the table below.
Time of arrival or departure Rate for day of arrival Rate for day of departure
Before and at 0700 100% Nil
0701 - 1300 100% 50%
1301 - 2159 75% 50%
2200 and after Nil 100%
  1. The incidental allowance covers personal expenses not otherwise met by the Department (for example and not limited to, currency exchange fees, tips and gratuities, personal telephone call costs and postage, newspapers and magazines, refreshments outside of meal times such as tea and coffee, alcoholic beverages, mini-bar items, in-house entertainment and other personal services, and sightseeing costs, such as entry fees and tour operator costs).
  2. Employees are also required to meet laundry and dry-cleaning expenses from their incidental allowance where travel on official business is for less than seven days. For travel on official business for seven or more consecutive days, refer to paragraph 16(k) for further guidance.
  3. The Department will not pay any personal expenses in excess of the incidental allowance. Any personal expenses charged to an employee’s hotel account will be recovered by the Department during the reconciliation process.
  4. Incidental expenses for employing Office Holders, e.g. porterage, tips, postage and newspapers should be paid from the allowance for incidental expenses paid to the Office Holder. Where an employee pays for incidental expenses on behalf of their Office Holder, the employee should seek reimbursement from their Office Holder as the Department will not reimburse such expenses.
  5. Employees are not required to reconcile the incidental allowance on completion of travel, however, certification is required that the overseas travel was undertaken – refer to paragraph 37 below.
Meal allowance
  1. In exceptional circumstances, where meals are unable to be taken in the hotel of stay or met by the relevant Australian post(s) on behalf of the Department, employees may receive a meal allowance to cover the cost of meals (i.e. breakfast, lunch and/or dinner). This allowance is set in accordance with rates determined by an independent organisation from time to time, based on current market data.
  2. The meal allowance is calculated in accordance with the approved official itinerary using the exchange rates for the overseas locality available on the day the calculation is made. The amount that an employee is entitled to be paid for meals for the day on which the employee arrives or departs from an overseas locality is as follows:
Time of arrival or departure Rate for day of arrival Rate for day of departure
Before and at 0700 100% Nil
0701 - 1300 100% 50%
1301 - 2159 75% 50%
2200 and after Nil 100%
  1. Where the amount of the allowance is insufficient to cover the reasonable cost of meals across the whole trip, the employee may seek reimbursement of additional expenses on return to Australia in accordance with paragraph 16(d). In such cases, employees should obtain receipts for all meal expenses and forward them to the Department on completion of travel. Where a receipt is not available, employees must provide written certification by way of a statutory declaration detailing the nature and amount of the expense, and why a receipt was unable to be provided. Otherwise the Department will not reimburse such expenses.
  2. Where an employee is paid a meal allowance and the Department also funds meals taken in the hotel(s) of stay on the official travel itinerary or a meal is provided as part of an official function, e.g. a working lunch or official dinner, a component of the allowance will be recovered by the Department: 25 per cent of the allowance for a breakfast or lunch and 50 per cent for a dinner.
Equipment allowance
  1. An equipment allowance of $430 (as at 1 October 2012) is provided to offset expenses that an employee may incur as a result of preparing to travel overseas, e.g. sturdy luggage and travel accessories including seasonal weather clothing.
  2. The equipment allowance is paid only once in any three-year period. For example, if an employee received this allowance for travel overseas on 1 June 2012, they will not be entitled to receive this allowance again until commencing travel on or after 1 June 2015.
  3. Employees are not required to reconcile the equipment allowance on completion of travel.

Certification of travel and reconciliation of travel expenses

  1. Employees are required to notify the Department of any variations to their itinerary, within 28 days from completion of travel. The changed itinerary may result in adjustments to the meal or incidental allowances paid to the employee.
  2. Employees must provide receipts or written certification by way of a statutory declaration within 28 days of completion of travel for the following items:
    1. additional meal expenses in accordance with paragraph 16(d); and
    2. laundry and dry-cleaning costs claimed in accordance with paragraph 16(k).
  3. Where an employee does not submit receipts or written certification by way of a statutory declaration within 28 days of completion of travel, he or she must obtain written approval from their employing Office Holder to submit the claim after the 28 day period has lapsed.
  4. On submitting receipts or written certification by way of a statutory declaration to the Department on completion of travel, the Department will reconcile all charges, including those met by an employee on behalf of their employing Office Holder (except incidental expenses referred to at paragraph 28).  Employees must repay to the Department any overpayment of allowances or expenses outside entitlement, such as personal expenses charged to the Department through the hotel account.  The recovery of such monies will be subject to the debt recovery arrangements at clause 35 of the Enterprise Agreement.
October 2012