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An electorate support budget is provided to allow for the travel of electorate employees and the employment of relief electorate employees. Senators and Members are advised of their electorate support budgets at the beginning of each financial year. The electorate support budget is a dollar amount calculated in accordance with Schedule C of Determination 2018/30: Staff travel and relief staff arrangements.
Details of employee travel are included in Senators and Members’ monthly management reports to assist them to monitor and manage the electorate support budget.
Certain office-holders may nominate an electorate employee to travel without debit from the electorate support budget or swap the travel arrangements of an electorate employee with a personal employee. Details of this facility are set out in Determination 2018/30. Any nomination may be made on the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority Travel Form: Electorate Employee Travel Nomination.
The electorate support budget is provided to Senators and Members to, among other things, meet the cost of engaging additional electorate employees in their office, such as during peak workloads and to fill short-term vacancies (for example, to cover periods of annual leave). The ability to engage employees using the electorate support budget is limited by the availability of funds in the electorate support budget and the completion of appropriate employment documentation consistent with the requirements of the MOP(S) Act and the employment arrangements specified in the Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement 2016-2019 (the Enterprise Agreement).
Arrangements for employing relief staff are set out in Determination 2018/30: Staff travel and relief staff arrangements.
No additional office facilities are provided for employees engaged under the electorate support budget.
The engagement of electorate employees is not a debit from the electorate support budget under a range of circumstances set out in Determination 2018/30.
The exclusions to debits from the electorate support budget are designed to ensure that a Senator or Member is not disadvantaged through filling their standard allocation of full-time positions where an electorate employee takes long-term or unplanned leave.
Where an employee paid from the electorate support budget takes leave, the cost of that leave and of any person employed as a ‘replacement’ is also a debit from the electorate support budget.
Senators and Members who have the authority to employ personal employees may overlap the employment of two personal employees against the same position, for the purposes of a work handover, for a period of up to two days, where a personal employee is:
- vacating a position (e.g. due to promotion, transfer or resignation)
- commencing leave for a period of 12 weeks or more, or
- returning from a period of leave of 12 weeks or more.
This arrangement is provided to allow personal employees to transfer work and relevant skills and share information on office procedures. The handover period remains available where the new personal employee has a different work base to that of the vacating employee.
A personal classification enables a personal employee to be employed at a classification above that of the position they are employed against. Personal classifications are subject to the demonstration of particular skills and responsibilities of the employee, and the approval of the Prime Minister.
A Senator or Member seeking a personal classification for an employee should write to the Special Minister of State in the first instance (through the Leader of the Opposition in the case of other Opposition Office Holders or Shadow Ministers).
Personal classifications are attached to an individual and positions revert to their substantive classification when the individual transfers positions or leaves employment.
The reasonable costs of removal and temporary accommodation may be met where an ongoing employee is required to relocate within Australia, including on appointment, promotion or transfer.
Information on the types of expenses which will be reimbursed and other arrangements relating to relocation and seeking reimbursement can be found in the Enterprise Agreement Guideline: Relocation Expenses. Senators and Members should provide a copy of this guideline to any new employee required to relocate.
Employees are strongly advised to discuss their particular circumstances with the Department to seek in-principle approval of the costs that are to be reimbursed, prior to any decision being taken about relocation.
The employing Senator or Member is required to approve the relocation using the Relocation of MOP(S) Act Staff form (Form 49). To assist employees to plan their relocation, a checklist is also available (Form 74).
Relocation and associated expenses are not payable:
- to non-ongoing or casual employees
- for temporary transfers
- from a location outside Australia (but may be paid from the point of entry to Australia)
- when a move is solely to meet the personal requirements of an employee, or
- on cessation of employment.
Relocation and associated expenses are not normally payable for an employee who is relocated by the same employing Senator or Member within 12 months of the employee’s most recent relocation.