Payment of meal allowance

There is a requirement to pay a meal allowance to staff when schools require attendance that delays return home for an evening meal (STCA clause 7.2 (d) or ASTCA 6.2.1 (d)).

Key points:

  • 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:
  1. the school, after consulting staff, provides the opportunity for an appropriate evening meal, taking into account the value of the meal allowance is $15.
  2. a ‘sign up’ system is used to identify those opting for the meal.
  3. a reasonable time is given for staff to sign up for the meal for catering purposes. 
  4. 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 entitlement:

  1. The STCA provides a collective and individual entitlement to payment of a meal allowance (7.2 (d))
  2. 7.2 (d) is a legal entitlement and an employer cannot unilaterally determine not to pay the allowance or to provide an alternative instead.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. The allowance is at the rate of $15 (Appendix D).
  6. 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.

Last modified on Wednesday, 12 December 2018 12:58