Travelling Allowance (TA)
- Employees are entitled to TA in accordance with clause 61 of the MOP(S) Act Employment.
- 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 6, and there is no requirement for employees to submit tax invoices or receipts for acquittal purposes.
- For each overnight stay other than in Canberra, employees must attach to the claim form a tax invoice and receipt or certify that a tax invoice and receipt can be produced if requested by the Department. Where TA is advanced, tax invoices and receipts must be provided on acquittal or certification made that they can be produced.
- 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 25 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 61.6(b) of the MOP(S) Act Employment 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 claim TA for the preceding night when the scheduled or actual arrival time at their destination is 6:00am or earlier. TA will not be paid where the employee has no entitlement to TA at the destination; e.g. it is their work base or is a location to which they are not entitled to travel. TA will be paid at the rate applicable to the destination.
- Rates of TA are located on the Ministerial and Parliamentary Services intranet.
- 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 intranet.
- 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, 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 exceptional circumstances exist and an explanatory letter from the employing Member accompanies the claim (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 location (usually 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 the their employer on official business outside of Canberra, and their employer certifies that it is necessary for the employee to stay in the same location (usually the same hotel) that their employer intends to stay at on arrival at the location, the rate of TA will be increased to cover the cost, should the standard rate of TA be insufficient.
- 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 20 to 22, TA will be increased by the difference between the rates determined by an independent organisation for accommodation and the actual cost of accommodation, on appropriate certification by the employing Member or authorised person.
- Where an employee seeks an increase in TA, a tax invoice and receipt for each overnight stay in commercial accommodation, such as a hotel, motel or similar accommodation must be provided.
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 when requested, represents a debt to the Commonwealth and is subject to debt recovery arrangements outlined at clause 34 of the MOP(S) Act Employment.
- 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, deducted from future TA claims; or
- if it is not likely that the employee will travel within the next 60 days, recovered from pay or salary in accordance with clause 34(a) of the MOP(S) Act Employment.
- If MOP(S) Act employment ceases then any outstanding overpayment of TA will be recovered from final monies in accordance with clause 34(c) of the MOP(S) Act Employment.
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 the rate of TA that would have been payable if the employee had been able to complete the travel.
- 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 and a tax invoice and receipt for the commercial accommodation.
- Clauses 61.8 and 61.9 of the MOP(S) Act Employment limit the entitlement to TA in Canberra and, in some circumstances, in other locations, to a maximum of 120 overnight stays for certain employees.
- The payment of TA is limited to a maximum of 120 overnight stays in Canberra per financial year for:
- Personal employees; and
- Electorate employees not subject to the Electorate Staff Travel Budget, whose work base is not Canberra.
- Where such an employee has a work base that is neither Canberra nor an office of the employing Member provided at Commonwealth expense, the payment of TA is limited to a total of 120 overnight stays per financial year in Canberra and the location of any office of the employing Member provided at Commonwealth expense, combined.
- 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 moves to another office, the remaining balance will transfer with the employee unless the 120 night limit does not apply to that employee in the new office, for example, if their work base is Canberra.
- For TA purposes the capital cities are as defined in the Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2010/09 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 intranet. The Department will notify Employees of adjustments to the rates of TA via circulars.
Review rate of TA
- In accordance with clause 61.7 of the MOP(S) Act Employment, after 35 consecutive nights stay at one location away from the work base, any subsequent nights will be paid on the basis of actual expenses up to a maximum of the relevant rate of TA. All tax invoices and receipts must be provided to the Department.