Since 26 June 2020, the PSA and the Department of Customer Service have been in dispute before the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) concerning the introduction of a purchasing card, or PCard, system.
A key aspect of the dispute is the interaction between the PCard system and the allowances contained at clause 29 – ‘Meal Expenses on One-Day Journeys’ of the Crown Employees (Public Service Conditions of Employment) Reviewed Award 2009. It was the Department’s view that as expenses were not being incurred personally by employees when purchasing a meal on a PCard, there was no requirement for the Department to pay any of the allowances under clause 29 of the Award. It was the PSA’s view that an employee is entitled to the meal allowances contained in this clause irrespective of whether they purchase a meal or not. In other words, there is no requirement for a meal to be purchased (personally or on a PCard) in order for the allowances to be payable.
Following extensive discussions, the Department agreed with the PSA’s position however the Department proposed that staff be allowed to choose between claiming the allowance or purchasing a meal on a PCard (in which case the employee would lose their entitlement to the allowance). The PSA rejected this proposal as a diminution of an award entitlement and maintained its position that employees are entitled to the full allowance irrespective of whether a meal is purchased. The Department then put forward the following revised proposal:
Employees who are engaged on a one day journey may purchase meals on a PCard and then claim the difference between the actual cost of the meal and the allowance under cl 29. If an employee chooses to purchase a meal personally (i.e. not on a PCard), the employee will receive the full allowance. Further, if an employee chooses not to purchase a meal at all, the employee will still receive the full allowance.
The PSA is of the view that this is appropriate and consistent with the obligations under clause 29. Your delegate committee supports the proposal and accordingly we now seek our members’ endorsement.