CODE 2, VOL 33, NO 22 : 27 november 2019

Claiming the ‘IN FIELD ALLOWANCE’ when deployed – When can you and how do you?

Many of you have recently completed, or are currently on deployments dealing with the fires across the state.

As a result, the new provisions of CA19 that relate to deployment conditions are applicable to you for all work completed on deployment after 6 November 2019 (the commencement date of CA19).

The state office has fielded questions relating to how to claim the ‘IN FIELD ALLOWANCE’ of $150 per day.  Schedule 2(e) (on page 57 of CA19) sets out when this allowance can be claimed and I have provided some further detail on when you can claim the allowance below.

You can find CA19 here.

There are two issues relevant to claiming this allowance and they are –
1) When does the allowance apply to you, and
2) How do you complete your timesheet?

1) When does the allowance apply to you?
Historically, all Queensland government agencies have relied upon a minimum standard of accommodation to determine when this sort of allowance can be claimed, and this was geared to a RACQ 3 Star Rating.  Unfortunately, despite relevant all of government Directives that apply to your employment still referring to that RACQ 3 Star Rating, this actual minimum standard no longer exists.

In the void of waiting for the Public Service Commission to update the minimum standard applicable to all agencies, your union and QFES have agreed to urgently develop an ‘IN FIELD ALLOWANCE THRESHOLD STANDARD’ which will set out the minimum standards you must be provided, and the availability of an assessment of a rejected application on a case-by-case 
basis.

Until the agreed standard has been developed, you are able to claim the allowance without any potential for rejection if you are required to sleep in a tent or dormitory style accommodation, or in accommodation which has been modified to provide for dormitory style arrangements.

It is less likely you can claim the allowance if you were accommodated in a motel (or better) style room of your own, unless that room did not have minimum standards such as a lockable door, your own bed, air conditioning, hot and cold running water, showering and toilet facilities (which on some occasions may be shared) and more.  These are the sorts of arrangements that will form the basis of the threshold to be met for the allowance being claimed or not.

At this stage (until the standard is released), all claims will have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. If you do intend to claim the allowance, you will need to establish to QFES why you believe your accommodation was insufficient and why you ought to be paid the allowance.

2) How do you complete the timesheet when claiming the allowance?
QSS and QFES have provided the following guidance for completion of the timesheet when you are claiming the allowance.

When claiming the allowance, use section 4 of your time sheet (Public Holidays, Relieving and Miscellaneous Claims) and insert code 12V.  Then put a number one (1) for each occasion on which you are claiming the allowance.

Unfortunately at this stage, claiming on-call or incidentals only for any period during deployment will have to be done on the existing separate claim form as per previous deployments, but QSS and QFES are working to develop codes for these claims as well.

As I set out above, you are to use this method on your timesheet if you consider you have a claim for the allowance.  Each claim at this stage is to be assessed on a case by case basis until the minimum standard agreement has been reached between your union and QFES.  If you make a claim for the allowance and it is rejected, please contact the UFUQ state office to have the rejection assessed and if possible addressed. 

To have the state office assist you, you will need to provide some documentation of your claim and the rejection and the reasons for your claim being rejected, so ensure you put all of your discussions regarding your claim with management into emails to be able to provide this evidence to your union.

John Oliver - General Secretary

Authorised by John Oliver General Secretary 
United Firefighters' Union of Australia, Union of Employees QLD