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$vuetify.icons.faPhone1300 650 620

Modern Award changes – Fact Sheet 4 – Travel allowance

The Fair Work Commission (Commission) has confirmed changes to the Building and Construction General Onsite Award 2010 (Onsite Award) will commence from 1 July 2020. HIA recommends you consider the changes as some will have an immediate effect on your employee’s terms and conditions.

Daily fares and travel allowance

Changes to the Daily Fares and Travel Allowance conditions under the Onsite Award are a substantial ‘win’ for employers who have long indicated the historical provisions under the Award are complex and, in some cases, are unfair in the context where employers provide vehicles to their employees. 

Currently, the Onsite Award provides that employees are paid a daily fares and travel patterns allowance of $17.43 for travel to and from work each day. 

This allowance is currently paid regardless of whether you supply the employee a vehicle to attend work each day. The only circumstances where it is not payable is where the employee is picked up and dropped home each day.

The Commission has reviewed this allowance and made significant changes to when the allowance is payable.

Frequently asked questions about daily fares and travel allowances

What is the change?

The value of the allowance has not changed. Instead, the circumstances of when the daily fares and travel allowance is payable have changed.

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

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

The clause also clarifies employees are not entitled to the daily fares and travel allowance where:

  • an employee is offered by the employer or provided transport free of charge from the employee’s home to the place of work and return, or
  • the employee is provided a fully maintained vehicle free of charge by the employer.

What does this change mean?

The new clause means that the daily fares and travel allowance applies in more limited circumstances. 

For example, if you have an employee who ordinarily meets their team at a depot or office to thereafter travel to site, previously they would have been entitled to the travel allowance. The new provisions clarify that the employee must start work on a construction site. 

Further, if you have had an employee who has been provided a work vehicle with all associated costs covered, up until now you have been required to pay the daily travel allowance. The new provisions clarify that this is no longer the case.

When is the daily fares and travel allowance not payable?

Under the new provisions 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 continues to provide 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, $0.78 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 $23.40 in travel costs ($0.78 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 half an hour for each return journey), and
  • any expenses ‘necessarily and reasonable incurred in such travel’, which is $0.47 per km where employee use their 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 $75.20 in travel costs ((0.47c x 80)x2).

What travel allowances are apprentices entitled to?

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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