Travelling Allowance (TA)
- Employees are entitled to TA in accordance with clause 62 of the Enterprise Agreement.
- TA can be paid in the form of an advance (a claim made prior to the completion of travel) or as an acquittal (a claim made after the completion of travel).
- Payment of TA for an overnight stay in Canberra is a single flat rate for both commercial and non-commercial accommodation, with the exception of the circumstance outlined in paragraph 7, and there is no requirement for employees to submit receipts for acquittal purposes.
- For each overnight stay other than in Canberra, employees who claim the commercial rate must provide a receipt for the commercial accommodation or certify that a receipt can be produced if requested by the Department. Ordinarily, a receipt for commercial accommodation will be a tax invoice showing an Australian Business Number (ABN) and inclusive of Goods and Services Tax (GST). If the receipt is not a tax invoice, Finance will seek to verify that the receipt is for commercial accommodation as defined by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) for GST purposes. If this cannot be verified, the non‑commercial rate of travelling allowance will be paid. Before a booking is made, employees should consider whether GST is payable for their accommodation if they intend to claim the commercial TA rate, as some accommodation arrangements, for example through Airbnb or private holiday rentals on Stayz, do not satisfy this requirement.
- Employees should consider cancellation policies when booking accommodation, especially when booking accommodation well in advance of travel and/or for an extended period of time. Accommodation that allows a booking to be cancelled with minimal cost up until a week or a few days prior to the stay should be preferred. Any decision on whether to reimburse an employee for the cost of cancelled accommodation as a discretionary payment under the Enterprise Agreement may take into account the cancellation policy applying to the booking.
- The Department regularly audits TA claims, therefore, it is recommended that employees who have certified that they can produce a receipt on request, retain receipts and/or other documentation relating to TA payments for six years. Refer to paragraph 26 regarding a potential overpayment where a receipt is unable to be produced.
- Where an employee’s accommodation is paid for by the Australian Government (e.g. an employee’s portfolio department), the employee may be paid the non‑commercial rate of TA in accordance with clause 62.6(b) of the Enterprise Agreement to cover meals and incidental expenses. The employee may note on their TA claim that no receipt is available in this circumstance.
- In the case that the overnight stay is in Canberra, the employee is entitled to receive 1/3rd of the Canberra TA rate to cover meals and incidental expenses.
- Where an employee’s travel requirement includes an en route accommodation component, e.g. The Ghan, TA will not be paid, in accordance with the Domestic Travel Guidelines.
- An employee is entitled to be paid TA for the preceding night when:
- the scheduled or actual departure time to the destination is between midnight and 3.00am (in which case TA is paid at the rate for the departure location and is not paid if there is no entitlement to TA at that location), or
- the scheduled or actual arrival time at their destination is 6:00am or earlier (in which case TA is paid at the rate for the destination and is not paid if there is no entitlement to TA at that location);
- Rates of TA are located on the Ministerial and Parliamentary Services website.
- To claim TA, a completed Travelling and/or Motor Vehicle Allowance claim form, signed by the employee and approved and dated by the employing Member or authorised person, must be lodged with the Department. The completed form and relevant supporting documentation, such as accommodation receipts, may be faxed or scanned and emailed.
- Travel claims will be the subject of audits conducted by the Department. Offices will need to retain original employee travel claims until an audit is conducted or the employing Member leaves Parliament, whichever is sooner.
- Claim forms are located on the Ministerial and Parliamentary Services website.
- If a claim for TA is dated and signed by the employing Member or authorised person before the trip has been completed, the claim is treated as an advance.
- TA will be paid in advance as close as possible to the time of travel, via electronic funds transfer to the employee’s nominated account.
- An employee who is paid an advance of TA must acquit the travel as soon as possible and no later than 28 days after the travel is completed. Once 28 days has elapsed, future payments of TA will not be made to the employee until the advance has been acquitted.
- Where an advance of TA has not been acquitted at the time an employee ceases MOP(S) Act employment, the amount of the advance will be withheld from final monies (to prevent a possible overpayment). Any necessary adjustments will be processed once the outstanding acquittal(s) has been received.
- If the claim for TA is dated and signed by the employing Member or authorised person after the travel has been completed, the claim is treated as an acquittal.
- TA will be paid as soon as possible after the receipt of an approved claim form, and is paid via electronic funds transfer to the employee’s nominated account.
- It is recommended that employees lodge their TA claims as soon as possible after the completion of travel. Claims signed by the employing Member or authorised person more than 60 days after the date of completion of the travel, will not be paid unless a letter from the employing Member providing reasons for the late TA claim is provided (in the case of a Minister, Parliamentary Secretary or Opposition Office Holder, a letter from the Chief of Staff, Principal Adviser or Senior Adviser will be accepted if they are authorised to approve staff travel). The decision whether to pay a late TA claim rests with the Department.
Adjustment to rate of TA
- Where an employee is required to travel with his or her employing Member on official business outside of Canberra, and
- the Member certifies that it is necessary for the employee to stay in the same hotel; and
- the amount of TA is insufficient to cover the cost,
the rate of TA will be increased to cover the cost.
- Where an employee of the Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition is required to travel up to three nights in advance of his or her employer on official business outside of Canberra, and
- the employer certifies that it is necessary for the employee to stay in the same hotel that the employer intends to stay at on arrival at the location; and
- the amount of TA is insufficient to cover the cost,
the rate of TA will be increased to cover the cost.
- Where an employee considers that the rate of TA is insufficient to meet the reasonable costs of an overnight stay, e.g. where special circumstances such as a major international sporting event result in an increase in the cost or availability of accommodation, the Special Minister of State (SMOS) or a delegate of the SMOS may approve an increase in TA.
- In cases outlined in paragraphs 21 to 23, TA will be increased by the difference between the rates for accommodation determined by an independent organisation and the actual cost of accommodation, on appropriate certification by the employing Member or authorised person. If necessary, the rates for relevant meals will be included in the calculation (refer paragraph 25b).
- Where an employee seeks an increase in TA, the employee must provide the Department with either:
- an itemised receipt for each overnight stay, showing the cost of the accommodation separate to any meals or other costs; or
- where an ‘accommodation package’ that includes only room and meals has been purchased, a receipt and evidence of which items are included in the accommodation package.
Descriptors such as ‘accommodation package’ alone on receipts do not contain sufficient information to enable an increase in TA to be calculated.
Overpayment of TA
- Any overpayment of TA, e.g. arising from changes to travel arrangements, failure to acquit an advance of TA or failure by an employee to provide receipts to the Department when requested, represents a debt to the Commonwealth and is subject to the debt recovery arrangements at clause 35 of the Enterprise Agreement.
- Consistent with the Enterprise Agreement, recovery of an overpayment of TA will be made in accordance with the following arrangements:
- at the election of the employee, the employee may remit the amount in full to the Department; or
- if it is likely that the employee will travel within the next 60 days, the amount may be deducted from future TA claims; or
- if it is not likely that the employee will travel within the next 60 days, the amount may be recovered from pay or salary in accordance with clause 35(a) of the Enterprise Agreement.
- If MOP(S) Act employment ceases then any outstanding overpayment of TA will be recovered from final monies in accordance with clause 35(c) of the Enterprise Agreement. The balance of any amount owing in excess of final monies will be recovered from the former employee as a debt to the Commonwealth. Any overpayment discovered after MOP(S) Act employment has ceased and final monies have been paid will be recovered from the former employee as a debt to the Commonwealth.
Personal leave during travel
- If an employee needs to take personal leave for reasons of personal illness or injury while undertaking official travel and is unable to return home, the employee may be reimbursed for costs up to the amount of TA that would have been payable if the employee had been able to complete the travel, including adjusted rates in accordance with paragraphs 21 to 25.
- Where such a period of personal leave exceeds the approved period of travel and therefore the amount of TA, the extra costs may be met on approval from the employing Member and the Department, subject to the employee producing a medical certificate or statutory declaration, and a receipt for the commercial accommodation.
120 overnight stays – clause 62.8 and 62.9 of the Enterprise Agreement
- Clauses 62.8 and 62.9 of the Enterprise Agreement limit the entitlement to TA in Canberra and, in some circumstances, in other locations, to a maximum of 120 overnight stays for certain employees.
- No TA is payable at the approved non-standard work base.
- The 120 overnight stays are assigned to the employee, not the position, and are not pro rata where an employee commences during the financial year. Therefore, in the event that the employee is employed by another Member, the remaining balance will transfer with the employee unless the 120 night limit does not apply to that employee with the new Member, for example, if their work base is Canberra.
- For TA purposes the capital cities are as defined in the Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2014/16: Members of Parliament – Travelling Allowance as amended or replaced from time to time:
- ‘Canberra’ includes locations within a 30 kilometre radius from Parliament House;
- ‘Sydney’, ‘Melbourne’, ‘Brisbane’, ‘Perth’ and ‘Adelaide’ mean locations within a radius of 10 kilometres from the General Post Office or five kilometres from the major airport servicing the city; and
- ‘Darwin’ and ‘Hobart’ mean locations within a radius of five kilometres from the General Post Office or five kilometres from the major airport servicing the city.
- The TA rate covers personal costs not otherwise met by the Department, e.g. personal telephone calls, laundry, dry cleaning, mini bar and newspapers.
- The TA rates are located on the Ministerial and Parliamentary Services website. The Department will notify Employees of adjustments to the rates of TA.