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Modern Award changes – Fact Sheet 4 – Travel allowance

There are various travel allowances that may be payable to employees covered by the Onsite Award.

Daily fares and travel allowance

When is the daily fares and travel allowance payable?

In order to be entitled to daily travel allowance, employees must start and finish work on a:

  • construction site, or 
  • an open yard where prefabrication works are performed, and then be required to erect or fix on-site. 

When is the daily fares and travel allowance not payable?

The daily fares and travel allowance is not payable where: 

  • the employee is provided a ‘fully maintained vehicle’
  • the employee is on annual leave or a RDO
  • the employer offers or provides the employee transport free of charge from and to the employee’s home or
  • employee has a fixed location for starting work which is not a construction site (e.g. - depot or office).

Other Travel Allowances

The Onsite Award provides for travel allowances in other circumstances including:

  • travel between construction sites
  • travelling outside ordinary hours
  • distant work payment and
  • apprentices.

What allowances are payable for travel between construction sites?

When an employee travels from one site to another, the employee is to be paid for:

  • time spent travelling (e.g.- considered part of their ordinary working hours) and
  • where the employer does not provide transport- the employee is paid for the cost of reasonable fares for public transport, or where the employee uses their own vehicle, $0.91 per km. This is not payable where the employer provides transport.

Example – Travel between construction sites

Sam starts work on a site in Brisbane city. During the day he needs to attend another site in North Brisbane, which is 25 minutes and 30km away. When travelling he uses his own car to travel to North Brisbane.
Sam's employer is therefore required to pay him for the 25 minutes spent travelling and $27.30 in travel costs ($0.91 x 30km).

What allowances are payable for travelling outside ordinary working hours?

Time travelling from an employee’s home to a job and back outside ordinary hours is unpaid, unless the employee is directed to pick up and return employees to their homes.

Example – Travel outside ordinary working hours

Sarah starts work each day at 7.30am and finishes at 4.00pm. It takes Sarah 30 minutes to travel to and from work each day (from and to home). On Fridays, Sarah has been asked by her employer to pick up the apprentice, which adds an extra 15 minutes travel each way. 

Sarah's employer is therefore required to pay her for her hours of work 7.30am-4.00pm Monday to Thursday and from 6.45am-4.45pm on Fridays (she is paid for travel time). 

What is distant work payment?

An employee is entitled to a distant work payment in addition to the daily travel allowance where the employee has to travel:

  • outside the metro area nearest to their usual residence, being the 50km radius from their nearest GPO or PPO and 
  • the construction site is more than 50km by road from their residence.

The distant work payment is: 

  • payment for travel outside the ordinary hours (at ordinary time hourly rate) calculated to next quarter of an hour (with a minimum payment of one half hour for each return journey) and
  • any expenses ‘necessarily and reasonable incurred in such travel’, which is $0.55 per km where employee uses own vehicle.

However, employees are not entitled to distant work payments where at commencement of employment, an employee’s home is more than 50km by road from the ‘construction site in which the employee was initially engaged’.

Example – Distant work allowance is payable

Billy’s home is located in the Sydney metro area and he is required to work on a job in Gosford. The site is 80km away from his home and more than 50km from the Sydney GPO. It will take Billy 1.5 hours travel each way to get to the site and he will be using his own vehicle.
The site is outside Billy’s metro area and more than 50km by road from home. Billy's employer is required to pay him an additional three hours per day at ordinary rates and $88.00 in travel costs ((0.55c x 80)x2).

What travel allowances are apprentices entitled to?

Example – Distant work allowance is not payable

Jean’s home is located in Carlton, within the Melbourne metro area. She has been asked by her employer to work on a job in Dandenong. The site is 47km by road away from her home.
Jean’s employer is not required to pay her the distant work allowance, as the site is less than 50km by road from her home.

Apprentices are entitled to a prescribed percentage proportion of the daily fares allowance and distant work payment:

  • 1st year rate – 75% of the amount prescribed 
  • 2nd year rate – 85% of the amount prescribed 
  • 3rd year rate – 90% of the amount prescribed 
  • 4th year rate – 95% of the amount prescribed. 

School-based apprentices receive 25% of the daily fares allowance for off-the-job training or assessment (where not at school).

No daily allowance is payable on days where an apprentice attends an RTO for the training part of their contract. Otherwise all other allowances are paid in full as prescribed (e.g. travel between sites).

This information is part of a series of updates on the Modern Award changes aimed at assisting members understand the requirements. More information can be found in the articles in the ‘What to read next’ section. 

To find out more, contact HIA's Workplace Services team

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