Frequently Asked Questions
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List of Frequently Asked Questions
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When the Tribunal makes a comprehensive determination relating to a category of offices (e.g. part-time offices) it is called a 'principal' determination and entirely replaces any earlier principal determination.
A principal determination usually covers a group of offices within the Tribunal's jurisdiction or a specific subject area (such as recreation leave). The Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973 and, for Members of Parliament, the Parliamentary Business Resources Act 2017, require the Tribunal to make determinations in relation to some remuneration matters (as opposed to some subject areas such as recreation leave) at intervals of no more than a year. This means that many of the Tribunal's principal determinations are in place for no more than 12 months.
All Tribunal determinations are registered on the Federal Register of Legislation (FRL) other than those relating to Secretaries, which are gazetted.
An amending determination inserts changes into a principal determination. Examples are inserting new offices into a principal determination, modifying provisions for access to particular conditions or a change in a remuneration amount for an office. An amending determination can include a number of changes to provisions in different principal determinations.
Where an amending determination has been issued, a consolidated determination needs to be made. A consolidated determination, also known as a compilation, is essentially a principal determination updated to include the provisions of any amending determinations. The consolidation records the reference number of the amending determination and includes the date of effect of the amended provision. As most amending determinations must be registered on FRL before a consolidated determination can be made (and then also registered with FRL), there is a usually a delay of between 1 and 2 weeks between the time the Tribunal signs an amending determination and the registration of the consolidated determination.
Determinations on the Tribunal’s website
The determinations that contain the current remuneration and conditions for each group of office holders are listed on the relevant office page. This could include either a consolidated determination (if there have been amending determinations) or a principal determination (where there have been no changes made). As it usually takes a week or two for a consolidated determination to be made, at times an amending determination may also display on the office page. Once the amendment has been incorporated into a consolidated determination, the amending determination will be moved to the Document Library on the Tribunal’s website.
The Tribunal is required to determine remuneration for offices that meet the definition of "public office" in sub-section 3(4) of the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973 (the Act) along with a range of other offices and appointments such as Departmental Secretaries, Principal Executive Offices and Members of Parliament. All offices established by a Commonwealth law (also known as statutory offices) and appointments made under a Commonwealth law are ‘public offices’ unless the relevant legislation provides otherwise. Legislation that establishes the office, board or committee will generally indicate how remuneration is to be determined. It may be necessary for administering agencies to seek legal advice on whether an office is in the Tribunal's determinative jurisdiction.
Some offices that are not automatically in the Tribunal's jurisdiction (because they are not created in legislation) can be placed in the Tribunal's jurisdiction. These are most commonly appointments made by the Governor-General or a Minister of State.
This process is commonly known as ‘referral-in’. Referral-in occurs when the Minister responsible for the Tribunal (the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) writes to the Tribunal President specifying that the Tribunal must determine remuneration for that office. This would usually occur as the result of a request to that Minister from the Minister with portfolio responsibility for the office.
The Tribunal does not determine its own remuneration, that is a matter for Government.
The Official Travel determination provides for the payment of an allowance to the office holder to cover reasonable expenses associated with official travel, i.e. accommodation, meals and incidentals, and it is a matter for the office holder as to how that allowance is to be used. An office holder’s TA must be paid in full.
However, in the event that the cost of accommodation is met by an entity other than the office holder, only the meals and incidentals component of TA is payable. An example of this might include where an office holder attended a conference and the cost of accommodation was met by the Commonwealth as part of the conference package.
In applying the provisions of the Official Travel determination, office holders and agencies should have regard to the set of general principles included in that determination.
It would be appropriate to reduce the reasonable daily overseas meal allowance amounts determined by the Australian Taxation Office by 50 per cent where dinner has been provided or paid for by an entity other than the office holder, or 25 per cent in the case of either breakfast or lunch. Alternatively, it would also be permissible for office holders to comply with any relevant administrative guidelines put in place for employees in their agency where these are not inconsistent with the Official Travel determination.
Rates for meals and incidentals are equivalent to the overseas meals and incidentals rates in the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) determination dealing with reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts. The relevant ATO determination is specified in the Tribunal’s Official Travel determination.
The rate of overseas TA payable to an office holder depends on the Travel Tier determined for the office. Accommodation should be provided at a standard reasonably equivalent to that provided for the office holder in Australia.
Class of travel is also dependent on the Travel Tier determined by the Tribunal, i.e.
Tier 1 = First Class or Business Class
Tier 2 = Business Class
Tier 3 = Economy Class
An office holder who is entitled to travel Economy Class may upgrade to Business Class where the duration of the flight exceeds five hours.
Where there are significant changes to the role or responsibilities of an office that warrant reconsideration of remuneration, a submission should be made to the Tribunal as soon as possible. Comprehensive submission guidelines are available on the Tribunal’s website.
You may also contact the Tribunal’s Secretariat for advice on your particular submission. Where time permits, the Secretariat can also provide feedback on draft submissions.
Factors that might be considered include:
- the desirability of having remuneration determined by an experienced, independent authority;
- whether the office will be established for a short or a long time; and
- the significance of the role and responsibilities of the office.
For a member of a defined benefit scheme, the value of the Employer Superannuation Contribution for the purpose of calculating the cash component of total remuneration (TR) is a notional amount calculated as 15.4% of the office holder’s superannuation salary.
Note that the value may be less than 15.4% for Principal Executive Offices (PEOs) in some circumstances – see the PEO determination for more information.
The Employer Superannuation Contribution for TR purposes needs to be recalculated immediately upon any change in TR for the office. This will result in a change to the office holder’s cash salary.
However, the office holder’s superannuation contributions salary remains subject to the rules of the scheme, i.e. is updated on the office holder’s birthday.
Note that actual employer payments made by a Department or agency to the superannuation scheme in respect of an office holder’s superannuation (based on advice from the Superannuation Branch of the Department of Finance) vary according to demographics and scheme membership in the particular Department or agency. Because of this the Tribunal has determined that a standard notional contribution rate (15.4%) should apply to all office holders who are members of defined benefit funds (and that it should apply immediately on adjustment, rather than from the office holder’s birthday). Any enquiries about superannuation liabilities should be directed to the Superannuation Branch in the Department of Finance ( email@example.com ) or the Australian Tax Office. Enquiries on the superannuation arrangements for the Federal Judiciary can be directed to JudicialSchemes@finance.gov.au .
The website’s search facility enables users to find answers to questions about the Tribunal's functions and offices. Where there is a FAQ containing the search term the website provides suggestions as text is entered. Paying agencies and other frequent visitors to the site are encouraged to sign up to receive an email alert when changes are made to the website.
Each category of office has a dedicated launch page that provides a background on the office and relevant FAQs. Current determinations, together with current applicable guidelines, statements and reports, display on the launch page. The current determinations could include either consolidated determinations or principal determinations (see the FAQ “What are principal determinations, compilations and amending determinations” for more information).
Most determinations (including associated explanatory statements and if applicable, reasons for determinations) and other statements and reports from 2004 can be found in the Document Library by conducting a filtered search (by office, year and/or document type). Should access be required to historical documentation (generally from 2003 or earlier years) a request can be made to the Remuneration Tribunal Secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Tribunal is also keen to receive feedback about the website. You are welcome to email your suggestions and comments to email@example.com.
With the exception of the determinations relating to Departmental Secretaries, Tribunal determinations are legislative instruments, which means that, under sub-section 38(1) of the Legislation Act 2003, they are required to be tabled in both houses of Parliament by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel within 6 sitting days after the determination has been registered on the Federal Register of Legislation.
No - The FBT on accommodation allowance is an expense to the agency, not the office holder, so it is not to be deducted from total remuneration.
All Tribunal determinations are disallowable instruments except those relating to Departmental Secretaries and Members of Parliament.
Either House of Parliament may, within 15 sitting days after a determination has been tabled, pass a resolution 'disapproving' the determination. If a determination that is disapproved (disallowed) has already come into operation, the determination does not have any force or effect on or after the day on which the resolution was passed. However, disallowance does not apply retrospectively. This means, for example, that affected office holders who have already received a pay rise do not have to repay any additional remuneration they have already received. However, from the date of disallowance, their pay would revert to what it was previously.
Special arrangements apply for Judicial Offices within the Tribunal’s determining jurisdiction. Determinations for Judicial Offices do not come into effect until after the 15 sitting days disallowance period has passed. This means, for example, that if the Tribunal determines a remuneration increase for Judges, they will not receive their increased pay until after the disallowance period. Any remuneration increase would be backdated to the date of effect specified in the determination. These arrangements are necessary due to sub-section 72(iii) of the Constitution, which expressly prohibits diminution of a Judge's remuneration while the Judge remains in office.
Commonwealth defined benefits scheme rules provide that an office holder's salary for superannuation purposes will be grandfathered at the highest rate applying in the year to the member's last birthday, increased annually in accordance with changes to the Average Weekly Ordinary Time Earnings (AWOTE) unless a higher superannuation salary is applied.
To ensure an office holder’s superannuation salary conforms with scheme requirements, the Tribunal will, upon request, agree to a higher personal superannuation salary rate for the office holder. A request to the Tribunal can be included in a remuneration submission by a Minister or employing body or notified to the Tribunal’s Secretariat by a relevant senior officer of the agency with access to the officer holder’s superannuation salary history.
For offices other than Judicial Offices each Tribunal determination comes into effect from a date specified in the determination. Where no date is specified, the date of effect is the day after the determination has been registered with the Federal Register of Legislation.
A remuneration increase for holders of Judicial Office cannot be passed on until after the disallowance period of the relevant determination has passed. In both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the disallowance period is 15 parliamentary sitting days after the determination has been tabled.
These arrangements are necessary because sub-section 72(iii) of the Constitution expressly prohibits diminution of a Judge's remuneration while the Judge remains in office - if the increase was put into effect immediately, the Parliament's right to disallow the determination would effectively be removed.
After the disallowance period has passed, any remuneration increase is then paid to Judicial Officers, with any necessary arrears paid from the date the Tribunal determined as the effective date of the increase.
The Tribunal may determine recreation leave for full-time holders of public office (but not part-time) where the enabling legislation (i.e. the Act establishing the office) states that the Tribunal will determine the matter.
It cannot determine other types of leave, such as personal and miscellaneous leave, for public office holders other than Secretaries of Departments.
The Tribunal has more general powers for Principal Executive Offices (PEOs) and for Judicial and Related offices - it can determine other types of leave as outlined in Part 5 of the PEO determination and in Part 2 of the Judicial and Related Offices determination.
There is no obligation to advise the Tribunal. However, we appreciate such advice as it ensures that correspondence to office holders is correctly addressed and, in the case of a resignation, that any person-specific clauses are removed from the relevant determination.
Where a new Principal Executive Office (PEO) appointment is made, the Tribunal must be advised on the remuneration determined by the employing body for that office holder within 4 weeks of that determination being made.
Unlike other public offices, remuneration increases for holders of Judicial Offices cannot be put into effect until after the disallowance period of the relevant determination has passed.
The Tribunal flags those determinations that are still within the 15 sitting day disallowance period to alert paying agencies not to pass on any increases to Judicial Offices until the disallowance period has passed.
Generally, the Tribunal has no authority in relation to the remuneration of acting appointees.
Section 33A of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 provides that the person or body who has the power to appoint a person to act in a particular office also has the power to determine the acting appointee's remuneration and allowances unless the enabling legislation (i.e. the Act establishing the office) provides otherwise.
Departments/agencies may need to seek their own legal advice regarding their particular circumstances.
Yes, the responsible Department or agency should advise the Tribunal at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible so that redundant entries may be removed from the relevant determination(s).
No - TA is an allowance to meet expenses incurred by the office holder when required to travel to perform his/her official duties.