The Enterprise Agreement provides for payment of electorate staff allowance (ESA) to ongoing and non-ongoing electorate employees in recognition of reasonable additional hours of work and travel outside of business hours.1 ESA is not to be allocated on the basis of an employee’s duties, additional responsibilities, skill level, qualifications, length of employment or salary level in previous employment. ESA is also not to be allocated as additional salary, a performance bonus, or retention payment. ESA is allocated to established Electorate Officer positions, not to individual electorate employees.
In order to ensure that the expectations of Senators and Members are clear to their employees, and employees’ ability to work additional hours and undertake travel is known to the Senator or Member, it is most important that Senators and Members consult with employees on the allocation, and any re-allocation, of ESA. This consultation process should be repeated at any time when the expectations of the employing Senator or Member about additional hours of work or travel change, or the allocation of ESA changes, to ensure that these expectations remain transparent. Employees who receive ESA will be required to work the agreed reasonable additional hours that best suit the operating requirements of the workplace taking into account the personal needs of the employee.
ESA is payable to ongoing and non-ongoing employees against an established position. ESA is paid on a pro rata basis for part-time employees. ESA is not payable to a casual employee. ESA is not paid in respect of employment against the electorate support budget, other than where the employment is due to a vacant position but paid against the electorate support budget.2
Senators and Members have the flexibility to allocate one of seven levels of ESA to each established position in their office. ESA levels are set out in Attachment D to the Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Agreement 2012-2015 (the Enterprise Agreement).
From 19 June 2014, the allocation of ESA to the Electorate Officer positions of a Senator or Member may not exceed:
- $60,768 (equivalent to 16 total points) in an office with four positions; and
- $68,364 (equivalent to 18 total points) in an office with five positions.3
Senators and Members may choose not to allocate ESA to a position where there is no expectation of the employee who occupies that position working significant additional hours or where the employee is unable to work significant additional hours. An employee may elect not to receive the ESA allocated to the position occupied if the employee is unable or does not expect to work significant additional hours. Where an ongoing or non-ongoing electorate employee does not receive ESA and is required to work reasonable additional hours, they may accrue time off in lieu with the agreement of the Senator or Member.4
ESA provides consistency and transparency to employees regarding their remuneration, and flexibility to Senators and Members regarding their office management, and, as such, is a settled arrangement that should not require frequent changes. Therefore, Senators and Members may allocate or reallocate the level of ESA for each position:
- upon taking up office
- upon becoming, or ceasing to be, a Minister or Parliamentary Secretary
- at the commencement of each financial year
- in the event of an office restructure involving a change in the classification of electorate officer positions
- where an employee commences or ceases a temporary transfer or period of approved leave of three months or longer, or
- in special circumstances with the agreement of the Special Minister of State.5
Senators and Members may also increase or decrease the level of ESA allocated to a position that is vacant (a position cannot be considered vacant if an employee has been temporarily performance progressed to that position6) or, subject to the overall ESA cap, use unallocated ESA to increase the level of ESA allocated to any position at any time.7
Senators and Members are not obliged to allocate the total amount of ESA available to the positions in their office but when allocating ESA it should be remembered that the amount allocated cannot be varied unless one of the circumstances listed above occurs.
Senators and Members are required to complete the appropriate ESA allocation form. The form should also be signed by the employee to acknowledge the level of ESA allocated to the position. The employee may also indicate on the form that he or she elects not to receive ESA.8
There are various deadlines that apply to the submission of advice about the allocation (and re-allocation) of ESA to Ministerial and Parliamentary Services. The date of effect for any change in ESA rate may be affected by the date the advice is received by Ministerial and Parliamentary Services.9
Parliamentary Staff Allowance (PSA) is paid to ongoing and non-ongoing personal employees in recognition of, and as compensation for, reasonable additional hours of work.10 An employee may elect not to receive the PSA allocated to the position occupied if the employee is unable or does not expect to work significant additional hours.11 Where an ongoing or non-ongoing personal employee does not receive PSA and is required to work reasonable additional hours, they may accrue time off in lieu with the agreement of the Senator or Member.
PSA is paid at the rates set out in Attachment D to the Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement 2012-2015.
Where an ongoing or non-ongoing employee does not receive ESA or PSA and is required to work reasonable additional hours, they may accrue time off in lieu (TOIL) with the agreement of the Senator or Member. This matter should be discussed by the Senator or Member with the employee prior to requesting that they work additional hours. The accrual of TOIL should take into account the nature of the occasion and the level of inconvenience to the employee when the additional hours were worked.
Accrued TOIL may be taken at a time agreed by the Senator or Member and the employee.12
1 Clause 40.1 of the Enterprise Agreement.
2 Clause 40.14 of the Enterprise Agreement.
3 Clause 40.3 of the Enterprise Agreement.
4 Clauses 40.10 to 40.12 of the Enterprise Agreement.
5 Clause 40.6 of the Enterprise Agreement
6 Clause 40.7 of the Enterprise Agreement.
7 Clause 40.8 of the Enterprise Agreement.
8 Clause 40.11 of the Enterprise Agreement and paragraphs 11 and 15 of the Enterprise Agreement Guideline: Electorate Staff Allowance.
9 For further information, see the Enterprise Agreement Guideline: Electorate Staff Allowance.
10 For further details about PSA, see clause 39 of the Enterprise Agreement.
11 Clause 39.4 of the Enterprise Agreement.
12 Clause 41 of the Enterprise Agreement.