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.
For members of accumulation schemes the Employer Superannuation Contribution is the amount of compulsory superannuation contribution that must be paid to the relevant fund. Additional salary sacrifice contributions are not included in the definition of the Employer Superannuation Contribution.
PSSAP members - who are holders of part-time offices
The superannuation salary for holders of part-time offices who are members of the PSSAP is the office holder’s fortnightly contribution salary (FCS). Note that holders of full-time office who are working part-time are subject to the same rules as other holders of full-time offices.
PSSAP members - other than holders of part-time offices
The PSSAP requires the Employer Superannuation Contribution to be calculated at the rate of 15.4% of salary for superannuation purposes.
The Tribunal’s determinations provide that the salary for superannuation purposes for a PSSAP member will be the person’s Ordinary Time Earnings (OTE).
Members of other schemes
The Employer Superannuation Contribution will be the compulsory (i.e. minimum) amount required to meet the employer’s obligations under the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 (Super Guarantee Act), i.e. 9.5% of OTE.
OTE is essentially the earnings that can be attributed to ‘ordinary hours of work’ so that the minimum Employer Superannuation Contribution can be calculated. Under the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 (the Super Guarantee Act) remuneration as an office holder is considered ‘salary or wages’ for this purpose.
ATO Superannuation Guarantee Ruling 2009/02 provides information about payments that are excluded from the definition of salary and wages (such as fringe benefits)
For an office holder remunerated on a total remuneration basis, the salary for superannuation purposes on which the Employer Superannuation Contribution is calculated is the taxable amount being received by the office holder.
However, OTE does not require a superannuation contribution to be made on all earnings related to the ordinary hours of work – there is an upper earnings limit for each quarter in the financial year. Earnings above this limit are not considered to form part of OTE. The limit is the ATO’s ‘maximum contribution base’ which is varied each financial year. Employers are not required to provide superannuation support for earnings above the maximum contribution base.
Read more about OTE and the maximum contribution base on the ATO website
The Employer Superannuation Contribution for PSSAP members is therefore 15.4% of OTE or 15.4% of the maximum contribution base (whichever is lower). The Employer Superannuation Contribution for members of other schemes is therefore 9.5% of OTE or 9.5% of the maximum contribution base (whichever is lower).
Where the office holder is also salary sacrificing to the PSSAP or another fund the usual salary sacrifice requirements apply.
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 ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) 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 email@example.com.
The Tribunal is also keen to receive feedback about the website. You are welcome to email your suggestions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
No - TA is an allowance to meet expenses incurred by the office holder when required to travel to perform his/her official duties.
Total remuneration (TR) is defined in the relevant determination applying to the particular office holder (i.e. Full-time Offices, Principal Executive Offices, Specified Statutory Offices, Departmental Secretaries and Judicial and Related Offices).
An office holder's cash salary is the component of TR that remains when all other payments and benefits, including the Employer Superannuation Contribution, are honoured. Cash salary should not be confused with the superannuation salary determined by the Tribunal for members of defined benefit schemes.
Cash salary equals TR, less the Employer Superannuation Contribution, less all payments and benefits included in the office holder's remuneration package (other than those specifically excluded in accordance with the relevant determination).
The process is outlined in the diagram below (note that slightly different superannuation arrangements apply to PEOs - see "How is cash salary calculated for a PEO"):
The Employer's Superannuation Contribution*
Other payments and benefits e.g. allowances, motor vehicle, parking, fringe benefits tax and any salary sacrifice payments e.g. additional superannuation contributions.
* The Employer's Superannuation Contribution is defined in the Tribunal's determination.
Essentially it is:
Parking provided at the main office location of a Secretary or full-time office holder, where there is a cost to the Commonwealth, is regarded as a benefit to that office holder and the value, including any fringe benefits tax, is therefore part of the office holder’s total remuneration. This applies even where the office holder doesn't have a Commonwealth provided vehicle.
A Class B parking permit to allow short stay parking in Commonwealth designated spaces would normally be regarded as a business support expense to the Department or agency and therefore not a benefit to the office holder.
Defined benefit schemes (e.g. PSS/CSS)
* For total remuneration (TR) and calculation of cash salary purposes:
The office holder’s new superannuation salary should be used to calculate the notional Employer Superannuation Contributions from the date of effect of the increase determined by the Tribunal.
* For contribution purposes:
Changes to any amount of superannuation that the office holder personally contributes to the PSS or CSS are made in accordance with the rules of the scheme, for instance, an office holder’s salary for contributions purposes is updated on the person’s birthday, falling on or after the date of effect.
For PSSAP members the value of the Employer Superannuation Contribution should be updated from the date of effect of the Tribunal's increase; actual employer contributions will also be updated at that time. The minimum “guarantee” payments for members of other accumulation funds should be updated when TR is adjusted, or each 1 July if the maximum contribution base applies. Actual contributions can be modified at any time to reflect salary packaging preferences of the office holder, but the minimum contribution required by the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 must be paid, and, for Principal Executive Offices (PEOs), reported to the Tribunal on PEO notifications.
No. A person employed on a full-time basis by the Commonwealth (e.g. an Australian Public Service employee or a public office holder) may not receive remuneration for holding a part-time public office but can receive travelling allowance for official travel associated with fulfilling the requirements of that office.
The legislative basis for this is sub-section 7(11) of the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973 (the Act). The restriction also applies to a person holding any office or appointment or who is otherwise employed, on a full-time basis, in the service or employment of the Commonwealth, the Administration of a Territory, a public statutory corporation, an incorporated company referred to in paragraph 3(4)(da) of the Act or an incorporated company all the stock or share in the capital or which is or are beneficially owned by the Commonwealth or by a public statutory corporation.
Whether a State public servant can receive payment for holding a part-time public office (e.g. on a Federal Government body) is a matter for the relevant State government.
The Tribunal has determined a level of financial compensation for a holder of a public office where there is early loss of office (some exclusions apply). Where a term of appointment expires (i.e. there is no early termination) no termination payment is available.
The Tribunal does not determine early loss of office provisions for part-time office holders or judicial offices. Separate severance arrangements apply to Members of Parliament.
The relevant determination for each office type will outline the provisions.
- Full-time Office Holders and Specified Statutory Offices: loss of office provisions are set out in the Compensation for Loss of Office for Holders of Public Office determination.
- Full-time non-Judicial offices included in the Judicial Determination: loss of office provisions are included in the Judicial and Related offices determination.
- Principal Executive Offices (PEOs): loss of office entitlements are set out in the PEO determination.
- Secretaries: loss of office entitlements are set out in the Departmental Secretaries determination.
Questions about the taxation of loss of office compensation should be directed to the Australian Tax Office.