Since 2020, the PSA has been in dispute with the Department of Customer Service in relation to its introduction of PCards.
The sole remaining issue in dispute is whether ‘field workers’ are eligible to claim the one-day journey meal allowances found under cl 29 of the Crown Employees (Public Service Conditions of Employment) Reviewed Award 2009.
On 24 May 2023, the PSA published a bulletin which sought approval for an offer made at a previous Industrial Relations Commission conciliation on 16 May 2023. Membership voted in favour of that offer. That offer formed the basis for further settlement negotiations between the parties.
On 26 June 2023, the PSA and the Department struck an in-principle agreement to resolve the dispute. The PSA now seeks your final endorsement on the following agreement:
- Term 1: Any Building Inspector or Automotive Inspector who, since January 2023, was denied the ability to, or was eligible but did not, make an application for a clause 29 one day travel meal allowance claim, will be able to submit the claim (with supporting evidence) for assessment by the delegated approver. Any employee who undertook travel on official business which did not require them to obtain overnight accommodation and met the requirements set out in clauses 29.1.1, 29.1.2 or 29.1.3 of the Conditions Award will, upon application and approval by the delegated approver, be paid the relevant meal allowance.
- Term 2: SafeWork inspectors will be able to elect between the following options:
- the Department will pay to SafeWork Inspectors a one-off lump sum payment of up to $3,000 (depending on years of service), representing a 4 year back pay equivalent of $750 per 12-month period. The amount will be pro-rated for any SafeWork Inspectors with less than 4 years of service in the relevant SafeWork Inspector role.
- SafeWork Inspectors may submit claims under clause 29 for the 4-year period period preceding 1 July 2023. If the Inspector travelled on official business which did not require them to obtain overnight accommodation and met the requirements set out in clauses 29.1.1, 29.1.2 or 29.1.3 of the Conditions Award they will, upon application and approval by the delegated approver, be paid the relevant allowance for each substantiated claim for the 4-year period preceding 1 July 2023. For the avoidance of doubt, any claims for that period must be made by the employee with supporting evidence in a form acceptable to the Department.
We note the following matters in addition to the above terms:
- In respect of term 1, Building and Automotive inspectors are still able to submit claims for the period before and since January 2023.
- In respect of term 2, all SafeWork Inspectors will be entitled to elect between the two options, provided they were employed as a SafeWork Inspector for any period of time between 30 June 2019 and 1 July 2023. Periods of time during which an Inspector was not performing work as a SafeWork inspector (e.g. long service leave, secondment, etc) will be excluded from the 4-year period. Provided those conditions are met, all SafeWork inspectors are entitled to the payment in accordance with term 2 irrespective of whether they actually performed field work.
- The provisions of Term 2 will be extended to Inspectors who retired or resigned between 30 June 2019 and 1 July 2023.
In addition to the above terms, on and from 1 July 2023, all employees of the Department including those who undertake travel in the course of their ordinary duties and within their designated geographical region, who travel on official business which does not require them to obtain overnight accommodation and who meet the requirements set out in clauses 29.1.1, 29.1.2 or 29.1.3 of the Conditions Award, will be paid that allowance upon application and approval by the delegated approver. (Members previously voted in support of this term via the survey published on 24 May 2023.)
The PSA strongly endorses a YES vote in favour of the agreement for the following reasons:
- Term 1 will secure back payment of the allowance for Building and Automotive Inspectors since January 2023.
- Term 2 will provide a $3,000 lump sum payment (or a pro-rata amount for employees who were employed for less than four years preceding 1 July 2023) or in the alternate, SafeWork inspectors may submit claims for the allowances for the previous four years. While the legal limit on backpay is 6 years, the PSA considers this term reasonable as:
- the $3,000 lump sum well exceeds the Department’s calculation that the average meal allowance expense per year per Building and Automotive inspector (which is the closest available comparator) was approximately $100. With this in mind, $3,000 is a reasonable, if not generous, amount.
- Additionally and from a practical perspective, the payment of a lump sum will avoid SafeWork inspectors being required to submit and evidence their own historic claims which may be practically impossible for those who have not kept comprehensive records of their travel, including date, time and location of the travel.
- The agreement will avoid the PSA having to arbitrate the entitlements for field workers in a hearing before the Industrial Relations Commission, which is a hearing the PSA may lose thereby possibly disentitling all field workers covered by the Conditions Award.
The ballot will be open until close of business Thursday, 6 July 2023. Please click HERE to vote.