Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement 2020-23

Last updated
01 July 2021
On 15 June 2021, the Department of Finance, on behalf of the Minister for Finance, lodged an application with the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for approval of the Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement 2020-23 (the new Enterprise Agreement) (see related resources).

The FWC will undertake an assessment of the application, which is expected to take several weeks. Once the FWC approves the new Enterprise Agreement, it will commence seven days later.

The new Enterprise Agreement, without any loss of conditions, includes the following:

Pay offer:

  • immediate pay increases for all employees in the first year for:
    • senior staff of 0.40 per cent (up from a pause)
    • Advisers, Media Advisers and Assistant Advisers of 1.15 per cent (up from 0.85 per cent)
    • electorate officers and other personal employees of 1.70 per cent (the maximum allowed)
  • the maximum pay adjustments allowed for all employees in the second and third years of the most recent year-to-June percentage change in the private sector Wage Price Index.
  • an increase to the minimum salary point for employees at the Electorate Officer A and Secretary / Administrative Assistant classifications.

Electorate staff allowance:

  • an increase to the maximum individual electorate staff allowance (ESA) allocation to 16 levels on commencement (equivalent to a notional 8 levels under the current Enterprise Agreement and up from the current maximum 7 levels).
  • reforms to ESA to permit allocation to individual employees, as well as two additional ESA levels for all parliamentarians’ offices (equivalent to one level under the current Enterprise Agreement) and two further additional ESA levels for offices of regional parliamentarians who are eligible to receive reimbursement for a satellite office (equivalent to a further one current level).

Leave and support:

  • the payment of superannuation for employees on all forms of parental leave.
  • an increase in paid supporting partner leave to five weeks, with a half pay option (up from the current two weeks with no half pay option).
  • clearer access to leave options for reasons of family and/or domestic violence to enable flexibility in the provision of leave including miscellaneous leave, personal leave and/or flexible working arrangements that is appropriate to individual circumstances.
  • clearer support for employees with nursing infants.
  • more flexible Excess (Canberra) Travel Leave for regional, rural and remote employees, including aligning entitlements with the parliamentary sitting calendar.
  • more flexible long service leave arrangements with leave able to be taken at half pay and the minimum leave period reduced to seven consecutive days.

Details of the new Enterprise Agreement

Details of the bargaining process, including the bargaining representatives, are available.

Length of agreement

The new Enterprise Agreement is 3 years in length.

Consultation arrangement

The new Enterprise Agreement includes the model consultation clause for major workplace changes as set out in the Fair Work Regulations 2009.

For general consultation matters, the new Enterprise Agreement provides for an Employee Consultative Group (ECG). The detail of how the ECG is structured and will function will be set out in separate terms of reference for the ECG. The ECG will continue to be consulted on workplace issues and proposed changes to guidelines under the new Enterprise Agreement, and will be available to meet as required.

Employment types

Employees can be either ongoing, non-ongoing or casual. The terms of each employment type are similar to the current EA, with casual employment now defined in accordance with the Fair Work Act 2009. Casual employees will continue to receive a 20 per cent loading in lieu of certain entitlements.

In determining a casual employee’s work base, the entire period covered by their employment agreement would be considered, rather than each period of work. The work base is where the employee spends most time on duty. This would enable a casual employee to travel at Commonwealth expense, and to be paid travel allowance where they are directed to travel on official business requiring an overnight stay away from their work base.

Further information can be found in the fact sheet on casual employees (see related resources).

Probationary employment

Consistent with the current EA, ongoing employees can be employed with a probation period of 3 months with the option to extend by up to 2 months. Non-ongoing employees may be placed on probation for up to 3 months.

Working from home

Consistent with the current EA, employees would be able to work from home with the approval of the Minister.

Individual flexibility arrangements

Employees may enter into an IFA with the Minister. Currently an IFA can vary any terms of the EA. Under the new Enterprise Agreement, IFAs could be made about:

  • arrangements about when work is performed
  • overtime rates
  • penalty rates
  • allowances
  • leave loading
  • remuneration
  • superannuation
  • arrangements about where work is performed
  • work bases
  • travel arrangements
  • leave
  • prior service
  • termination of employment
  • severance benefits.

Some of these topics, such as overtime rates, are not found in the new Enterprise Agreement, but the proposed IFA clause reflects the topics of the model IFA clause found in the Fair Work Regulations 2009 and additional topics relevant to the MOP(S) Act employment framework.

Remuneration adjustments

The remuneration offer is as follows:

  • immediate increases in salary and allowances in the first year equal to:
    • 1.70 per cent – for electorate officers and personal employees below Assistant Adviser
    • 1.15 per cent – for Advisers, Media Advisers and Assistant Advisers
    • 0.40 per cent – for senior staff
  • on and from one year after commencement of the new Enterprise Agreement, for all employees—an adjustment in salary and allowances equal to the WPI.
  • on and from 2 years after commencement of the new Enterprise Agreement, for all employees—an adjustment in salary and allowances equal to WPI.

Private-Plated Vehicle Allowance (PPVA) for eligible senior staff will remain capped at its current rate for the life of the EA.

Further information can be found in the fact sheet on the remuneration offer including salary tables (see related resources).

Salary points

The two lowest EOA salary points and three Secretary/Administrative Assistant salary points will be removed, setting the lowest salary point at $56,067 on commencement.

Employees at the EOA-1 or EOA-2 salary points will be automatically taken to be at the equivalent of the EOA-3 salary point.

Employees at the Sec/Admin-1, Sec/Admin-2 and Sec/Admin-3 salary points will be automatically taken to be at the equivalent of the Sec/Admin-4 salary point.

The remaining EOA and Sec/Admin salary points will be renumbered, i.e EOA-3 to 8 under the old EA will become EOA-1 to 6 under the new EA and Sec/Admin 4 to 11 will become Sec/Admin 1 to 7.

Wage Price Index

The wage price index for the private sector is a figure produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics each quarter. The salary adjustments will be based on the WPI for the previous year ending in June. For example, if a salary adjustment is due on 4 August 2022, the salary adjustment will be equal to year-to-date WPI for June 2021.

The first salary adjustments will be those listed in the new Enterprise Agreement. The 2019-20 WPI was 1.7 per cent. Future WPI figures will be confirmed before each of the other salary adjustments is due.

Application

The annual remuneration adjustments will apply to:

  • salary
  • personal staff allowance
  • electorate staff allowance for electorate employees (including the additional ESA levels proposed)
  • allowance paid to drivers of former Prime Ministers no longer in the Parliament
  • corporate responsibility allowance.

The adjustments do not apply to Private Plated Vehicle Allowance, which will remain capped at its current rate of $25,082 over the life of the new Enterprise Agreement.

Salary setting

Consistent with the current EA, the employing Member may appoint ongoing electorate or personal employees, or engage new non-ongoing electorate or personal employees, other than senior staff, at any salary point within the classification to which the appointment or engagement is made, based on the demonstrated and relevant skills and experience of the employee.

Promotion

The new Enterprise Agreement will require that on promotion, an employee (other than senior staff) must receive a higher salary than the employee's existing salary.

Further information can be found in the fact sheet on salary on promotion (see related resources).

Transfers

The 3 types of transfer arrangements available to an office will be clarified under the new Enterprise Agreement, with transfers between positions at the same or equivalent classification allowed:

  • permanent transfer: the permanent movement of an ongoing employee (other than a promotion to a higher classification)
  • temporary transfer – external: to another office
  • temporary transfer – internal: within an office to a vacant position either at a higher classification, or at the same or equivalent classification (this would be an extended version of current temporary progression that is only available to a higher classification (and for which Higher Duties Allowance is paid).

Where an employee transfers to a new classification, the employee’s salary would be at the same salary point if that is available at the new classification.

Where the employee transfers to a lower classification with a lower top salary than the employee was previously receiving, the employee would be paid at the top of the range for the new classification.

These arrangements are consistent with the Guidelines.

Competency assessment

The arrangements for competency assessment are consistent with the current EA.

However, the Government will amend the relevant Guideline to permit the employing Member of a 4-position CBAA electorate office to competency assess an EOB to an EOC to create a CCAA office.

Further information can be found in the fact sheet on competency assessment in a 4 position office (see related resources). 

Higher Duties Allowance

Consistent with the current EA, an employing Member will be able to put an ongoing employee on HDA for a minimum of 2 weeks where a position is vacant.

The employing Member will also be able to temporarily transfer an employee to a vacant position at the same classification, but no HDA will be paid.

Retention payment

Consistent with the current EA, eligible ongoing and non-ongoing employees will be paid a retention payment of one per cent of their salary and certain allowances. Eligible employees will be entitled to the payment at 19 June each year if the employee was employed for the previous 12 months.

The impact of the proposed salary adjustments will flow through to the amount of the retention payment, which is based on one per cent of salary and certain allowances at 19 June of each year. Where an employee is on temporary transfer to another office, the salary and higher duties allowance will only be included for calculating the retention payment if the transfer salary or the allowance, as relevant, has been paid for the entire qualifying period (i.e. the previous 12 months).

Further information can be found in the fact sheet on retention payment (see related resources).

Salary packaging

Ongoing and non-ongoing employees will continue to have access to salary packaging arrangements. Ongoing employees may salary package items that attract either no FBT or a concessional rate of FBT. Non-ongoing employees may only include superannuation contributions in a salary package.

The Government will investigate bringing superannuation salary packaging in-house.

Superannuation

Employees in the PSSap or a super fund under the superannuation guarantee arrangements continue to be guaranteed a minimum 15.4 per cent employer contribution. Superannuation would be paid on both paid and unpaid parental leave.

Superannuation allowance

Ongoing employees, other than employees who are members of the PSSap, PSS or CSS superannuation schemes, may elect to receive a fortnightly allowance equal to the additional superannuation above the superannuation guarantee (i.e. 9.5 per cent of ordinary time earnings). The current allowance is 5.3881 per cent. An employee who elects to receive the allowance will be paid employer superannuation contributions of 9.5 per cent.

Superannuation allowance will be paid consistent with superannuation when an employee is on parental leave.

This arrangement previously required an IFA between the employee and Minister. For simplicity it has been relocated in the new Enterprise Agreement.

Further information can be found in the fact sheet on superannuation allowance (see related resources).

Allowances

All allowances paid on a fortnightly basis, other than Private-Plated Vehicle Allowance for eligible senior staff, will be adjusted in line with salary adjustments.

Electorate staff allowance (ESA), personal staff allowance (PSA, previously Parliamentary Staff Allowance) and the allowance paid to drivers of former Prime Ministers continue to be available in compensation for additional hours of work (noting that PSA and the drivers' allowance are paid as a flat rate for each classification and are not allocated).

Corporate responsibility allowance (CRA) (relocated to the Work Health and Safety chapter of the new Enterprise Agreement) will continue to be paid to Staff Assistance Officers, First Aid Officers, WHS Site Officers, Emergency Officers and WHS Committee members, in accordance with any policies issued by MaPS. It will be adjusted in line with the salary adjustments of electorate officers and personal employees below the classification of Assistant Adviser.

Further information can be found in the fact sheet on other allowances (see related resources).

Electorate staff allowance (ESA)

A number of changes to ESA will increase the remuneration available to electorate employees in recognition of, and as compensation for, working reasonable additional hours, and will provide greater flexibility for staff and their employing Members.

ESA will be adjusted in line with salary adjustments for electorate employees.

New ESA levels

ESA levels will be nominally doubled under the new Enterprise Agreement, with the value of each ESA level being halved.

When the new Enterprise Agreement commences, 4, 5 and 6 position offices will be permitted to allocate up to 34, 38 and 42 ESA levels respectively. This is equivalent to the 17, 19 or 21 ESA levels currently and represents an additional ESA level for each office compared to the current system (i.e. two new levels under the new system).

There is no waiting period for the additional ESA levels; they can be allocated by the parliamentarian on commencement.

Two additional ESA levels will be provided to employing Members who are eligible under the Parliamentary Business Resources Act 2017 to receive reimbursement for satellite office expenses.

This will better enable eligible regional members (currently 46 MPs) and their employees to staff any satellite office, and support the needs of their larger and more diverse constituencies generally.

The following is a list of 4, 5 and 6 position offices that are eligible for Commonwealth reimbursement of the costs of a satellite office:

4 position

5 position

6 position

Ballarat

Hume

Barker

Durack

Bass

Hunter

Calare

Grey

Bendigo

Lyne

Capricornia

Kennedy

Blair

Macquarie

Eden Monaro

Lingiari

Braddon

Mayo

Farrer

Maranoa

Canning

Monash

Flynn

O'Connor

Corangamite

Nicholls

Gippsland

Parkes

Cowper

Page

Indi

 

Dawson

Pearce

Leichhardt

 

Forrest

Wide Bay

Lyons

 

Franklin

Wright

Mallee

 

Gilmore

 

New England

 

Groom

 

Riverina

 

Hinkler

 

Wannon

 

Providing additional levels of ESA represents an effective increase in the remuneration available to be paid to electorate employees for working reasonable additional hours.

Below shows how the current ESA system is being changed:

Current ESA system

New ESA system (number of levels doubled, value halved)

Two additional levels for every office

Two further levels if eligible for satellite office reimbursement

16

32

34

36

18

36

38

40

20

40

42

44

Changes to how ESA is allocated

ESA will be allocated to an individual employee (not the position they occupy).

It will be possible to allocate ESA to all ongoing and non-ongoing employees, whether employed against a position or the electorate support budget (ESB).

ESA would not be pro rata for part-time employees, meaning that the allocated amount of ESA will remain in place as work hours change unless changed by the employing Member. The employing Member and employee may agree to reduce or cease the ESA allocated to an employee.

The revised ESA will be better able to address circumstances where 2 employees are appointed to a single position, where an employee is appointed to 2 positions or an employee is appointed to both a position and the ESB. The employing Member will be better able to allocate ESA according to the additional hours of work which individual employees are working.

ESA may be re-allocated within an office following set trigger events, which are generally unchanged from the existing trigger events.

An employee may be allocated up to 16 levels of ESA, approximately equivalent to a notional ESA 8 and equal to $32,791 on commencement. This improves on the December 2020 offer where up to 15 levels of ESA could be allocated to an individual employee and is an increase on the current maximum ESA-7 (equal to $28,213).

Further information is available in the fact sheet on electorate staff allowance (see related resources).

Personal Staff Allowance

Consistent with the current EA, PSA will be available at 4 tiers and paid at a flat rate on the basis of an employee’s classification. PSA will be adjusted in accordance with the corresponding salary adjustments.

Private-plated vehicle or allowance (PPVA)

The threshold for an eligible part-time employee to be paid pro rata PPVA will return to 4 full-time days (i.e. 30:24 hours per week). When working 30:24 hours per week or more the employee may choose to receive a private-plated vehicle or be paid the full rate of PPVA. The current EA did not accurately reflect the change in ordinary hours from 37.5 hours per week to 38 hours per week.

The current rate of Private-Plated Vehicle Allowance (PPVA) will be capped for the life of the EA.

Relocation expenses

Consistent with the current EA, ongoing employees will be entitled to the reimbursement of the reasonable expenses occurred in relocating.

Recovery of debts

Consistent with its statutory responsibilities, MaPS will still recover debts from employees owed to the Commonwealth. All debts will be recovered in accordance with the requirements of the Fair Work Act 2009, including requiring the employee’s agreement before any money is deducted from an employee’s pay. The Government will clarify MaPS' obligations in relation to debt recovery in the Guidelines.

Hours of work

The ordinary hours of work for a full-time employee remains at 38 hours per week. Employees will continue to be paid electorate staff allowance, personal staff allowance and the allowance paid to drivers of former Prime Ministers for their additional hours of work.

The Government will revise the Guidelines to provide further guidance on additional hours, related allowances and the operation of TOIL.

The new Enterprise Agreement clarifies the provision of reasonable time for lactation breaks for employees.

MaPS will also consider how office and accommodation fit-outs can better support employees with nursing infants.

Time-off-in-lieu

TOIL continues to be available to eligible employees not receiving ESA or PSA. With the agreement of the employing Member, a full-time employee will accumulate TOIL once the employee works more than 38 hours in a week.

The Government will revise the Guidelines to provide further guidance on additional hours, related allowances and the operation of TOIL.

Leave

The leave entitlements are generally consistent with those under the current EA. Casual employees are not entitled to leave, other than where specified.

The Government will clarify in the Guidelines the existing paid and unpaid leave options that employees have access to for cultural and/or ceremonial purposes.

Leave for reasons of family and/or domestic violence

The new Enterprise Agreement would enable flexibility in the provision of leave for employees experiencing or at risk of experiencing family and/or domestic violence so that leave can be provided that is appropriate to the employee’s individual circumstances.

The Government will update the Guidelines to reflect these arrangements, including options for miscellaneous leave, personal leave and/or flexible working arrangements.

Further information can be found in the fact sheet on leave for reasons of family and/or domestic violence (see related resources).

Annual leave

Employees will be entitled to 4 weeks’ annual leave (pro rata for part-time employees). Annual leave will accrue daily.

Personal leave

Employees will be entitled to 15 days’ personal leave (pro rata for part-time employees). Personal leave will accrue on commencement of employment and at each subsequent anniversary.

Unpaid carer’s leave

Employees, including casual employees, will be entitled to 2 days’ unpaid carer’s leave due to illness or an unexpected emergency affecting an employee’s family/household member.

Compassionate leave

Employees will be entitled to 2 days’ paid compassionate leave each time an immediate family member or household member contracts a personal illness or sustains a personal injury that seriously threatens their life.

Employees will be entitled to 3 days’ paid compassionate leave each time an immediate family member, household member or friend dies.

Community service leave

Employees will be entitled to leave to undertake community service activities, such as voluntary emergency service activities. There is no limit on the amount of leave under this entitlement.

Miscellaneous leave

Paid miscellaneous leave can be approved by the employing Member for purposes previously agreed by the Minister or in accordance with arrangements approved by the Minister. Paid miscellaneous leave for other purposes may be granted with MaPS approval. 

Other leave

Leave for certain purposes may be granted, including for Defence Force service or undertaking study.

Long service leave

Employees, including casual employees, will be entitled to long service leave (LSL) in accordance with the Commonwealth’s statutory scheme.

LSL may be taken for periods of 7 consecutive calendar days or more at full-pay and for 14 consecutive calendar days or more at half-pay. This improves the flexibility under the current EA, where LSL can only be taken for periods of 15 days or more at full-pay.

Further information can be found in the fact sheet on Long Service Leave (see related resources).

Maternity leave

After 12 months' qualifying service with the Commonwealth, employees will be entitled to maternity leave in accordance with the Commonwealth’s statutory scheme (currently 12 weeks) and an additional 4 weeks’ paid maternity leave.

The Guidelines will be amended to clarify leave arrangements for parents where a child is stillborn. Where an employee is eligible for maternity leave, they are entitled to take it following a stillbirth. 

Adoption leave

Employees, other than casual employees, with 12 months' eligible service will be entitled to 16 weeks' adoption leave where they adopt a child and are the primary carer.

The Guideline will be amended to ensure legal surrogacy arrangements are also covered by adoption leave.

Supporting partner leave

Employees that are supporting partners following the birth or adoption of a child will be entitled to 5 weeks' supporting partner leave. Supporting partner leave may also be taken at half-pay.

This is an increase from 2 weeks with no half-pay option under the current EA.

The Guidelines will be amended to clarify leave arrangements for parents where a child is stillborn. Where an employee is eligible for supporting partner leave, they are entitled to take it following a stillbirth.

Further information can be found in the fact sheet on supporting partner leave (see related resources).

Leave without pay

Employees may take leave without pay (LWOP) with the approval of their employing Member. LWOP may affect an employee’s eligibility for certain entitlements and the anniversary date of service.

Public holidays

Consistent with the current EA, employees may absent themselves from work on a public holiday. There will also be a paid close down between Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

Prior service

Consistent with current EA, under the new Enterprise Agreement, prior service may be recognised for different purposes, including annual leave, severance benefits and personal leave

Travel arrangements

Travel arrangements, including travel allowance (TA), motor vehicle allowance (MVA) and excess baggage reimbursement are consistent with the current EA.

TA and MVA rates will be set by the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (IPEA) based on rates determined by an independent organisation from time to time.

Excess (Canberra) travel leave

Excess (Canberra) travel leave (ECTL) will be amended from the current arrangements to:

  • permit employees to claim a half day's leave for each time they travel. Currently they can claim one days’ leave for every 2 times they travel.
  • permit travel on Sunday or a public holiday for a Parliamentary sitting that commences on a Tuesday to count towards ECTL claims.
  • remove the limit on the number of days that can be claimed. Currently a maximum of 8 days can be claimed in a calendar year.
  • clarify the definition of 'Parliamentary sitting' for the purposes of ECTL. Committee hearings, other than Senate Estimates, will not qualify as a sitting for the purposes of ECTL.

The employees of parliamentarians who have work bases in the following locations may claim ECTL:

  • Western Australia
  • Northern Territory
  • in the following present Federal electorates as listed in the new Enterprise Agreement:
    • Capricornia
    • Dawson
    • Herbert
    • Kennedy
    • Leichhardt
  • in the following Federal electorates as currently approved by the Minister:
    • Barker (work bases in Mt Gambier and Renmark only)
    • Braddon
    • Flynn
    • Franklin (work bases in Kingston only)
    • Grey
    • Hinkler
    • Indi (work bases in Wangaratta only)
    • Lyons (work bases in Bridgewater only)
    • Mallee (work bases in Swan Hill only)
    • Maranoa (work bases in Dalby and Roma only)
    • New England (work bases in Inverell and Tenterfield only)
    • Page
    • Parkes (work bases in Moree and Broken Hill only)
    • Wannon
    • Wide Bay

(The above eligible work base locations are effective as at 4 April 2019, which is the most recent update.)

MaPS will consider investigating the feasibility of automatic crediting of ECTL.

Further information can be found in the fact sheet on excess (Canberra) travel leave (see related resources).

Travel allowance (TA)

The new Enterprise Agreement will allow the Minister to vary the 120 night limit on personal employees and electorate employees who are not subject to the electorate support budget (ESB) claiming TA for overnight stays in Canberra or the location of a Commonwealth-funded office of their employing Member where the employee’s work base is at a third location.

This change would allow the Minister to ensure that employees that may be required to work from one location for a significant period of the financial year continue to be entitled to TA, and replace the requirement for an individual flexibility arrangement (IFA).

Learning and development

Access to learning and development opportunities remain the same as under the current EA.

  • Employees can still access up to 5 hours per week study leave and up to $10,000 reimbursement for study costs (pro rata for part-time employees).
  • The Professional Development Program will continue to be provided.
  • Ad hoc training opportunities continue to be available.

Work health and safety

A revised WHS clause will be included in the new Enterprise Agreement recognising the legislative requirements to secure safe and healthy workplaces and ensuring employees have access to appropriate WHS supports. The revised clause will help provide a framework for WHS matters.

Employees will continue to have access to assessments of work practices and equipment and may be provided with recommended equipment.

The Employee Assistance Program will continue to provide employees with access to free professional counselling and other services.

Severance benefits

Consistent with the current EA, ongoing employees will be entitled to severance benefits (subject to some exceptions). The calculation of severance benefits will remain the same and additional severance benefits will be paid to employees whose employment is automatically terminated under the MOP(S) Act.

Employees will still be required to repay a portion of the severance benefits if they are re-employed after a break in service within the severance pay period, subject to the new arrangements below.

An employee who leaves MOP(S) Act employment and later returns may make an irrevocable written election to waive their right to have their earlier service recognised for severance and/or annual leave purposes, in which case they will be entitled to keep all of their severance benefits. They will not be required to repay them. This will help encourage experienced employees to return to MOP(S) Act employment.

Further information can be found in the fact sheet on severance benefits on re-employment (see related resources).

Career transition payment

The requirement for an employee to obtain MaPS' approval before incurring career transition expenses following the termination of their employment has been removed.

This change would provide simpler access to the career transition payment and is consistent with the previous removal of prior approval requirements for studies assistance and ad hoc training.

Dispute resolution

Dispute resolution arrangements are unchanged from the current EA. The clause is based on the model clause in the Fair Work Regulations 2009

After body