Reasonable time for overseas travel on TESL

03-May-2018


 

Recently a Local Health District has changed the application of section 4.3 “Reasonable Travel for Overseas Travel” of the TESL Policy Directive: PD 2016_043. Although the immediate issue has been satisfactorily resolved at the local level, ASMOF is concerned that a different and less beneficial application of the provision is being suggested by a LHD, and has requested the Ministry to confirm that the customary application (which relies on the plain words of the Policy Directive) will continue to apply.

ASMOF contends that the language of clause 4.3 “Reasonable Travel for Overseas Travel” of Policy Directive 2016_043 is absolutely unambiguous: “Up to 48 hours (actual time), depending on destination, either side of the conference or educational activity may be allowed as travel time.”

This provision is clearly meant to be read in the context appreciating the destination. The example which gave rise to the current matter required the travel from Australia to Central America, which is essentially a 24 hour continuous flight and significant time zone difference. The “depending on destination” phrase clearly qualifies the relevant Doctor in the current circumstances. Similarly the sentence; “Staff Specialists will not be expected to attend a conference or return to work on a day on which they have arrived the morning after travelling overnight from an overseas destination” provides the context in which this clause is to be applied.

The TESL Policy Directive PD 2016_043 at section 4.3 Reasonable Travel Time for Overseas Travel provides for up to 48 hours (actual time), depending on destination, either side of the conference to be allowed as travel time.

On the basis of that provision, it would seem that not only is time allowable as a TESL Day, but that the Per Diem may be payable on the day (see section 5.3)

I have inserted the relevant excerpts below for Members’ reference.

The Ministry has not replied at the time of writing.

 

4.3 Reasonable Travel Time for Overseas Travel

  • Up to 48 hours (actual time), depending on destination, either side of the conference
  • or educational activity may be allowed as travel time. Staff Specialists will normally be

    expected to travel by the most direct and least time consuming method unless there

    are good reasons (e.g. safety; significant cost benefits) to do otherwise. The day of

    departure and the day of return will generally be deducted as TESL days unless the

    Staff Specialists does not apply for leave on those days and travelling time allows for

    a full day’s work for that Staff Specialist’s normal hours. Staff Specialists will not be

    expected to attend a conference or return to work on a day on which they have 

    arrived the morning after travelling overnight from an overseas destination. A TESL

    day will be deducted for this day. However, reasonable travel time does not generally

    include “stopovers” or other journey interruptions, nor “recovery” time between or

    following travel, unless there are reasonable and demonstrable health reasons for

    such interruptions / time.

5.3 Per Diem Allowance

  • For the purposes of calculating the per diem allowance, the salary rates are to be
  • based on the full time equivalent (FTE) salary for superannuation purposes applicable

    to the position occupied by the Staff Specialist. As Level 5 Staff Specialists are paid

    75% of the Level 4 rate (at an equivalent seniority) and leave without pay (LWOP) is

    permitted for 25% of the full commitment in that speciality, Level 5 Staff Specialists

    are to use 100% of the Level 4 rate for calculation of the appropriate per diem rate as

    per the Staff Specialist Level 4 salary rates of the equivalent seniority.

  • Overseas per diem allowance is payable to Staff Specialists to cover the cost of
  • meals and other incidental expenses, but not including accommodation. The amount

    paid per day is in accordance with the salary rates published by the ATO as

    reasonable travelling allowances.

  • Domestic per diem allowance is payable to Staff Specialists to cover cost of meals
  • and other incidental expenses, including accommodation. The amount paid per day is

    in accordance with the salary rates published by the ATO as reasonable travelling

    allowances.

  • A per diem allowance covers meals, incidental expenses (and accommodation for
  • domestic travel is only paid when a night is spent at the educational activity location).

    Therefore, the number of days per diem paid will be equal to the number of nights at

    the educational activity.

  • A per diem will not be paid during:
  • o Periods of private leave

    o Time spent in transit

    o TESL days for home-based study, or

    o If the Staff Specialist does not live far enough away from the educational

    activity to qualify for accommodation away from home.

  • Food and drink charged to a hotel room are covered by the per diem allowance and
  • cannot again be claimed on an accommodation invoice except if actual expenses

    rather than a per diem are being claimed.

  • All allowance payments and reimbursements will be paid into the bank account used
  • for payroll purposes.

  • The PHO will pay the per diem allowance (in conjunction with incidentals and
  • accommodation allowance for domestic travel) in one payment. Presentation of tax

    invoices or receipts is not necessary for payment of the allowance.

  • Staff specialists may elect to claim actual expenses instead of the per diem allowance
  • however in this case receipts / tax invoices must be provided for ALL expenses

    claimed. These will be reimbursed to the Staff Specialist on presentation of:

    o Tax invoices (domestic travel), or

    o Receipts and credit card statements or an equivalent showing the payment in

    Australian dollars where possible (overseas travel).