Payment of meal allowance
- An individual entitlement, not an option, when teachers are asked to delay return home when they would have an evening meal.
- As an allowance no receipts are required – for accounting record the number of allowances paid.
- Schools can provide the option of a meal in exchange for the allowance but simply providing a meal does not cancel out the entitlement. To avoid problems good practice would be:
- the school, after consulting staff, provides the opportunity for an appropriate evening meal, taking into account the value of the meal allowance is $15.
- a ‘sign up’ system is used to identify those opting for the meal.
- a reasonable time is given for staff to sign up for the meal for catering purposes.
- staff who do not agree to the exchange and do not have the meal are paid the allowance.
Payment of meal allowance (STCA clause 7.2(d))
- The STCA provides a collective and individual entitlement to payment of a meal allowance (7.2 (d))
- 7.2 (d) is a legal entitlement and an employer cannot unilaterally determine not to pay the allowance or to provide an alternative instead.
- The entitlement is triggered if staff are prevented from returning home for an evening meal because of the employer’s request (e.g. that they attend the parent-teacher evening).
- The STCA does not specify a length of time for the delay in returning home before the allowance can be claimed and there is also no discretionary provision for the employer to determine their own.
- The allowance is at the rate of $15 (Appendix D).
- The payment is an allowance, not a reimbursement for actual and reasonable expenses, receipts are not required. For accounting purposes the school debits the number of meal allowance claims paid.
Exchanging the entitlement for a provided meal
There is nothing preventing a teacher from agreeing to exchange their meal allowance for an actual meal provided by the school. However, misunderstandings will be avoided if the following are understood:
- There is no provision requiring the employer to provide a meal instead of the allowance.
- There is no requirement that the employer provide a teacher with both a meal and the allowance.
- The default entitlement is payment of $15 but the employer and each teacher individually may agree that the teacher will exchange the allowance for the meal.
- The employer cannot assume that providing a meal without prior agreement cancels out the right of any teacher to receive the payment.
- The employer cannot assume that silence constitutes consent.
- The employer could assume, if they have made clear beforehand that the meal is in lieu of the entitlement, that eating the meal would constitute agreement to the arrangement.
- The employer cannot assume that general agreement to a meal cancels out the payment for individuals who did not specifically agree to the arrangement.