SASSLA has received many queries in respect to claiming travel in light of recent compulsory events that require attendance in the city such as the Leaders’ Day and partnerships meetings. DECD recently re-issued updated travel guidelines for interstate and overseas travel.
Local, within state travel guidelines (use of private car, g-car) are available on the intranet by searching for “use_of_private_motor_vehicle_for_work_related_purposes_procedure.pdf”. The others can be found by searching for Overseas Travel Policy and Domestic Travel Procedure. Curiously, “domestic” here means interstate, not local. You need: use_of_private_motor_vehicle_for_work_related_purposes_procedure.pdf for what most people would call “local”. This document has links to about nine others, which have links to many others and so on. Two others of immediate use are:
- Form ED008 Approval to use Private Motor Vehicle on Government Business
- Form VL623a Claim for Reimbursement – use of Private Motor Vehicle on Government Business
Please note that travel policies are audited. Misconduct investigations followed by disciplinary action will result when noncompliance is detected. Please read, understand and follow the guidelines. They are there for your safety.
Travel policies apply to preschool directors, principals and all DECD staff. The work involved in putting these policies into practice might be time consuming, but it is not so hard once it is routinised and nothing compared to the pain of an investigation followed by disciplinary action.
Several members recently experienced adverse incidents so ensure you take steps to protect yourself. Check your practice against policy and implement it. The upside is you avoid the investigations, you maximise protection in case of an accident and you are entitled to claim and receive reimbursement at the rate of 87 cents/km for every km travelled on duty, as well as meals and incidentals for those who travel longer distances. That is better than twice the rate you get if you claim it on your tax return. It soon adds up if you use your private vehicle, but this is not a matter of choice. You cannot just claim it on tax. It is a matter of regulation and policy. You must observe it, for your protection and for that of your staff. Country travel adds the risk of fatigue. There are health and safety guidelines for safe travel.
You do not have to use your private vehicle, and you can’t be made to, but if you do, you must follow these procedures, even if it is just down the street to do the banking, check on an excursion, get school supplies, USB’s or post the letters. Most accidents occur with 5 km’s of the school site.
Regulation 34 Travelling expenses (provides)
Teachers (which includes principals) undertaking approved travel in connection with their duties shall be reimbursed for expenses reasonably and actually incurred at the same rates as apply to a public service employee provided that the Minister may, on the recommendation of the Director General, approve of reimbursement at a higher rate than prescribed in this regulation if it appears necessary to recoup the teacher concerned for his or her reasonable, out of pocket expenses.
Staff, including SSO’s, travelling on duty may risk their private insurance cover because insurers normally require a declaration and a small additional premium to cover use for business purposes. The policy states that this extra cost will be reimbursed provided you claim it. Please check your policy and take whatever action is needed to make sure you are covered. Double check it against DECD policy if you use a trailer. If you travel without approval you risk all sorts of problems such as loss of insurance, knock backs for workers compensation claims and allegations of misconduct.
Please discuss these matters at your partnership meetings and with your ED to set up efficient procedures. Preschool directors and principals must have an ED sign off to travel on duty, in state, interstate and overseas.
A similar problem applies to school finance. You must have an ED sign off if you receive any benefit, however small, using money sourced from the government. This is usually via school funds but sometimes via special projects and awards. This applies to reimbursements, cash or otherwise, including reimbursement of expenses for items like school supplies. Be sure to record and reimburse the cost of private calls made on business phones. We have had members investigated for misconduct and disciplined for breaches of these policies. SASSLA has received the following advice from DECD in respect to finances:
According to policies, cases where ED approval of expenditure may be required include reimbursement of business related expenses paid for by a principal or preschool director personally and entertainment where the site leader is one of the main beneficiaries e.g. a small group dinner. There is no dollar limit applying to the above – they are matters of principle and they apply equally to principals and preschool directors.
However, in terms of site expenditure generally, procurement policies and delegations assign all preschool directors and principals general authorisation up to $220,000 ($165,000 for minor works). They are also entitled to have and use a DECD purchase card for business purposes. Gifts are more limited but even then the site leader has authority to $330.
The full delegations listing can be found on the intranet by searching for financial delegations and authorisations. Preschool directors and principals must establish the same procedures for their staff. This is for your and their protection. It is becoming a case of not if, but when breaches will be detected, followed by misconduct investigations and disciplinary action. These matters are being actively policed by DECD.