Frequently Asked Questions
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List of Frequently Asked Questions
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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.
Electorate Allowance is an expenses of office allowance payable to MPs, including Ministers and Parliamentary office holders, to cover the costs necessarily incurred in providing services to their constituents. Any part of the allowance that is used for allowable electorate expenses, as decided by the Commissioner of Taxation, is not subject to income tax.
The Members of Parliament determination, available on the Parliamentary Offices page of the Tribunal's website, sets out the current rates of Electorate Allowance.
The remuneration of Members of Parliament (MPs) – i.e. all senators and members of the House of Representatives, including Ministers and Parliamentary office holders – is made up of several components:
All MPs receive a base salary. The current rate of the base salary is in the Tribunal’s Members of Parliament determination which is available on the Parliamentary Offices page of the Tribunal’s website.
Additional salary may be payable to MPs who are also Ministers or office holders. Additional salary is expressed as a percentage of base salary.
The Tribunal makes recommendations to the Government on Ministers' additional salary, and the Government may accept or reject the Tribunal's advice. The Tribunal’s most recent report on Ministerial salaries is available on the Parliamentary Offices page of the Tribunal’s website.
Additional salaries determined by the Tribunal for office holders are set out in the Tribunal’s Members of Parliament determination.
Other remuneration and allowances
The Tribunal also determines a range of remuneration related provisions (such as private plated vehicles) and allowances (including electorate allowance) for MPs, as well as provisions for former MPs (such as post-retirement travel). The current provisions are in the Tribunal’s Members of Parliament determination.
Superannuation is not determined by the Tribunal but is governed by the Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Act 1948 and the Parliamentary Superannuation Act 2004. All questions on parliamentary superannuation should be directed to the Department of Finance.
While not part of remuneration, MPs may also be paid expenses incurred in the course of conducting their parliamentary business, such as travel and transport costs. This includes some travel expenses associated with family reunion in recognition of the extensive travel undertaken by MPs. From 1 January 2018 MPs’ work expenses are prescribed in the Parliamentary Business Resources Regulations. At least once each year, the Tribunal will inquire into and report to the Special Minister of State on matters relating to travel expenses and travel allowances for MPs. The actual travel allowance rates will be determined by the Tribunal and published in the Members of Parliament determination.
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.
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. 10% 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 10% of OTE or 10% 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 diversity of bodies within the Tribunal's jurisdiction, together with the work undertaken, means that a formal meeting of the body can take many guises. For this reason the Part-time Office determination isn't definitive about what constitutes a 'formal meeting'.
In general a formal meeting includes all members of the body (formal apologies aside) being called to meet for a specific purpose which encompasses the main work of that body. There may also be other attendees. It would include instances where office holders remotely access the meeting (e.g. via teleconferencing or video conferencing facilities). Often there is a formal agenda with minutes recorded and a requirement for office holders to undertake some prior reading of agenda papers or other preparation.
However not all meetings/gatherings will be a 'formal' meeting. Where there is a requirement for some members of the body to get together, for example, members of a subcommittee or to meet with stakeholders, this would be considered authority business.
The Tribunal has issued Relocation Assistance Guidelines to assist Ministers and Employing Authorities in making a request for relocation assistance for a holder of a full-time office who has been offered appointment to an office in a geographical locality that is different from the locality of the person’s principal place of residence. For more information about the relocation assistance provisions, see the Full-time office and PEO determinations. Relocation assistance for Departmental Secretaries is not subject to these Guidelines – see the Secretaries determination for more information about Secretaries relocation assistance provisions.
The provisions and principles outlined in the Guidelines apply to the holders of full-time offices including PEOs and non-judicial offices remunerated on a total remuneration basis. They do not apply to other offices in the Judicial and Related Offices determination. For more information about the relocation assistance provisions, see the Full-time office and PEO determinations. Relocation assistance for Departmental Secretaries is not subject to these Guidelines – see the Secretaries determination for more information about Secretaries relocation assistance provisions.
The Tribunal only determines in respect of the office holder, not his/her spouse. The Official Travel determination provides that where the Commonwealth meets travel costs of a spouse or partner, an office holder is to be paid an amount as is vouched as the difference between the cost of a single and double room.
Generally, accompanied travel may only occur when the office holder's employing body or Minister certifies in writing that it is demonstrably in the interests of the Commonwealth, given the purpose of the travel, for the office holder to be accompanied by his or her spouse or partner. Matters such as the occasions on which an office holder can be accompanied, number of accompanied trips per year etc, are up to the individual employing body or Minister.
Tribunal determinations, except those specifically applying to Departmental Secretaries and Members of Parliament, are disallowable instruments under the Legislation Act 2003.
This means that either House of Parliament may, within 15 sitting days after a disallowable 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 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 remuneration reverts to its previous level.
The Part-time Office determination defines authority business, which can be:
- any authorised work that is not a formal meeting (it can be performed on the same day that a formal meeting is held). This list isn't exhaustive, but it could include:
- sub-committee work (including meetings and preparation for those meetings);
- stakeholder engagement;
- representational work;
- out-of-session consideration of funding/grant applications;
- official travel on a non-meeting day;
- comments and feedback provided on papers, policies, strategies;
- inspections or visits where this is part of the work of the authority; and
- general correspondence, emails and phone calls that relate to the office holder's work for the body/entity.
- excessive time spent preparing for a formal meeting (normal preparation time is not considered authority business and does not attract additional payment). A decision on whether preparation time is excessive is a matter for the Chair.In order to establish an entitlement to payment an office holder must spend a minimum period of at least one hour on authority business. Shorter periods do not attract payment. The maximum payment that may be made to an office holder for work performed on a day is one daily fee.
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.
For a part-time office in the Tribunal’s jurisdiction, the daily fees for ‘offices not specified’ set out in the Part-time Office determination may be used, subject to any discretion available in the establishing legislation for the office.
As the Tribunal does not have determinative powers in relation to setting remuneration for individual Principal Executive (PEO) offices, remuneration for individual PEOs is not included in the PEO determination. The Tribunal writes to the relevant employing body setting the remuneration parameters for each PEO.
In any other case, you should contact the Tribunal’s Secretariat for advice.
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.