5.6 Employee Travel

5.6 Employee Travel

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Travel arrangements for MOP(S) Act employees are set out in Determination 2015/20: Staff Travel and Relief Staff Arrangements.

All employees must travel by the most efficient direct route available.1

Subject to available funds in the electorate support budget, electorate employees may travel as directed by the employing Senator or Member anywhere within Australia on official business, i.e. to assist the employing Senator or Member to carry out their duties as a Member of Parliament.2 

Personal employees may travel on official business anywhere within Australia as directed by the employing Senator or Member.3

It is an employee’s responsibility (and hence the employee’s cost) to transport himself or herself to and from his or her work base for normal hours of duty (or between accommodation and work when travelling on parliamentary or electorate business away from his or her work base). This includes travel to and from work when the employee’s work base is distant from the employee’s home.4 The Commonwealth will not meet the costs of travel between home and any employee’s work base, regardless of the distance between an employee’s work base and home, other than in the circumstances set out at item 17 of Determination 2015/20 (and repeated under ‘Car Transport’ below).

Class of Travel

Employees, other than senior staff, who are required by the employing Senator or Member to travel on official business by air, rail, road or sea are entitled to a fare which shall not exceed the cost of an economy class airfare for the most reasonable and usual route between the departure and destination points, unless otherwise determined by the Special Minister of State.5

Senior staff (employees above the level of Adviser) who are required by the employing Senator or Member to travel on official business by air, rail, road or sea are entitled to a fare which shall not exceed the cost of a business class airfare for the most reasonable and usual route between the departure and destination points. Where a business class airfare is not published for the destination point, the cost to the Commonwealth of travel by air, rail, road or sea must not exceed the economy class airfare for the most reasonable and usual route, between the departure and destination points.6

Personal Stopovers

With the approval of the employing Senator or Member, an employee is permitted to make a stopover for personal reasons in the course of travel on official business by the most efficient direct route available. Any additional costs for fares or costs related to the personal stopover must be paid directly to the contracted travel services provider at the time of booking the travel. Personal stopovers may be taken before official business commences, after official business has been completed, or between adjacent periods of official business, provided the stopover is for a maximum of two nights and no annual leave is taken by the employee as part of the stopover.7

Car Transport

Subject to the general conditions that apply to all travel on official business as directed by the employing Senator or Member, employees may use:

  • taxis
  • regulated ridesharing services
  • hire cars
  • short-term self-drive cars hired through the travel services provider, or with any car hire company, provided that:
    • the hire is of no more than 10 days duration
    • the vehicle is not used for journeys within Canberra
    • the vehicle is not used for journeys within a city/town where the employer’s electorate or other office is located, except by employees of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, or the leader of a minority party.

For the purposes of car hire by employees, a capital city, other than Canberra, is defined by the boundaries of the electorates identified as urban on the Federal Electoral Boundaries map published from time to time by the Australian Electoral Commission. Canberra includes locations within a 30km radius of Parliament House.8

Self-drive hire cars should be used on weekdays only unless exceptional circumstances apply and the Senator or Member has approved the use.9

The cost of insurance may be included in the cost of self-drive car hire where it is purchased as part of the vehicle hire. It is the responsibility of employees to ensure that they arrange the appropriate level of insurance for the circumstances of the hire. To reduce liability to the Commonwealth in case of loss or damage to the vehicle, this will usually be the highest level of insurance cover available..

Employees are provided, on the request of the employing Senator or Member or authorised person, with a Cabcharge card for taxi travel.10 Employees are not entitled to use taxis, regulated ridesharing services, hire cars or short-term self-drive hire cars at Commonwealth expense for private use.11

As noted above, it is the employee’s responsibility (and hence the employee’s cost) to transport himself or herself to and from his or her work base for normal hours of duty (or between accommodation and work when travelling on parliamentary or electorate business away from his or her work base).  However, exceptions to this rule apply to the use of car transport in the following circumstances:

  • the trip is approved for personal safety reasons (for example, where the risk to personal safety is significantly increased due to the requirement to work late)

  • the employee is travelling on official business and scheduled public transport services are not readily available

  • the employee is travelling on official business and is carrying luggage to/from the office for the purpose of the trip.12

Employees authorised by the employing Senator or Member to travel on official business may be reimbursed their toll and parking costs. Such costs must be reasonable (e.g. it is generally expected that long-stay parking will be used at an airport) to be eligible for full reimbursement. Toll and parking costs will not be reimbursed where incurred during a personal stopover or a period of leave. Employees are not entitled to be reimbursed for valet parking costs.13

Costs of all car transport for electorate employees are subject to the electorate support budget, other than for nominated electorate employees of certain Office Holders.14

Senators and Members are encouraged to check the accuracy of each monthly management report as it is received to ensure that Cabcharge expenditure is correctly recorded and within entitlement. From time to time, Ministerial and Parliamentary Services will undertake a detailed check of Cabcharge expenditure and further explanation will be requested if a trip appears to have been undertaken between the office and accommodation outside of entitlement. The employing Senator or Member will be asked to certify if any of the above exceptions applied to the travel undertaken.

Motor Vehicle Allowance

An employee may be authorised by the employing Senator or Member, in advance of the proposed use, to use his or her privately-owned vehicle or a self-drive hire vehicle, at his or her own expense, for the purpose of official business where the employing Senator or Member considers that it will result in greater efficiency or involves less expense.  In this circumstance, the employee will be paid motor vehicle allowance.15

Travel Outside Entitlement

Ministerial and Parliamentary Services monitors travel by employees. If an employee travels to a destination outside entitlement or at a class above entitlement, the travel will be brought to the attention of the employing Senator or Member and cost recovery action may be initiated to recover any payment for travel outside entitlement as a debt due to the Commonwealth.16

5.6.1Travelling Allowance

Employees are entitled to be paid travelling allowance when directed to travel on official business by their employing Senator or Member, where the travel requires an overnight stay away from the employee’s work base.17 The work base is established by the facts of the place of work where an employee spends most time on duty, and may be distant from an employee’s home, or their employing Senator or Member’s electorate office.18 When an employee commences employment he or she will be required to nominate his or her work base using the Employee’s Personal Particulars form and the Senator or Member must endorse this.

Particular care should be taken in nominating the work base of casual or short-term non‑ongoing employees who will be directed to travel. If the travel is for the majority of their period of employment, the work base will be the location to which the employee travels. Therefore, there may be no entitlement to travel at Commonwealth expense as it is the employee’s expense to travel between their home and their work base. Travelling allowance would not be paid at the location to which the employee travels as it is their work base.  Senators or Members requiring support staff in Canberra may wish to consider deploying an ongoing electorate employee or a longer-term non-ongoing employee.

Payment of Travelling Allowance

The arrangements for claiming travelling allowance are set out in the Enterprise Agreement and its accompanying guidelines.19

Footnotes

1  Item 1 of Determination 2015/20: Staff Travel and Relief Staff Arrangements, made under the MOP(S) Act, on 17 December 2015.

2  Item 4 of Determination 2015/20.

3  Item 3 of Determination 2015/20.

4  Items 2 and 17 of Determination 2015/20.

5  Item 15 of Determination 2015/20.

6  Item 14 of Determination 2015/20.

7  Items 10 and 11 of Determination 2015/20 and paragraphs 12-19 of the Enterprise Agreement Guideline: Travelling Allowance.

8  Item 18 of Determination 2015/20.

9  Item 19 of Determination 2015/20

10 Paragraph 23 of the Enterprise Agreement Guideline: Domestic travel

11 Item 19 of Determination 2015/20.

12 Item 17 of Determination 2015/20.

13 Items 21 to 24 of Determination 2015/20.

14 Items 19 and 23 of Determination 2015/20.

15 Clause 65 of the Enterprise Agreement.

16 Paragraphs 6 and 26 of the Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement Guidelines: Travelling Allowance.

17 Clause 62.1 of the Enterprise Agreement.

18 See definition of ‘work base’ at clause 75 of the Enterprise Agreement.

19 See clause 62 of the Enterprise Agreement and the Enterprise Agreement Guideline: Travelling Allowance.