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FBT Q&A ‘ Whether the work of Councillors with home office and hot desk in Council Chambers is itinerant

Is the work of a councillor with a home office and a hot desk facility in the Council Chambers itinerant?

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Question:

The following question is asked in the general context of whether car logbooks should treat trips from a councillor’s home to Council as being business in nature.

Is Councillor’s work itinerant in the following circumstances:

  • Councillors currently work from a home office and are provided with hot desks to work at the Council Chambers, when required.
  • In order to fulfil their role, councillors are often required to drive to community functions and to meetings with council employees, residents, industry representatives and community groups.
  • Councillors are required to attend several work locations every day and these locations vary on successive days.

 

In your opinion, do these facts suggest that a councillor is an itinerant worker? Would your opinion change if councillors were to have a designated office space at the Council Chambers, in addition to their home office?

Answer:

Travel to and from work is normally private use, even if the employee does minor jobs on the way. There are few circumstances where travel between home and work may count as work travel. However, itinerancy is one of those exceptions.

Identifying whether an employee’s work is of an itinerant nature is determined according to the individual’s circumstances, which is explained in TR 95/34. In the Ruling the following characteristics are listed as indicating itinerancy:

(a)  ‘travel is a fundamental part of the employee’s work…

(b)  the existence of a “web” of work places in the employee’s regular employment, that is, the employee has no fixed place of work…

(c)  the employee continually travels from one work site to another. An employee must regularly work at more than one work site before returning to his or her usual place of residence…

(d)  other factors that may indicate itinerancy (to a lesser degree) include:

(i)   the employee has a degree of uncertainty of location in his or her employment (that is, no long term plan and no regular pattern exists)…

(ii)   the employee’s home constitutes a base of operations…

(iii)   the employee has to carry bulky equipment from home to different work sites…

(iv)   the employer provides an allowance in recognition of the employee’s need to travel continually between different work sites…’

Based on the background facts you have provided, it is considered the Councillor’s travel would be of an itinerant nature and therefore a business journey in accordance with TR 95/34.

If the Councillors were to have a dedicated office at the council chambers then travel direct from home to the office would most likely be private travel unless, it can be shown that their home office remains a base of operations in which case it may be arguable the travel is between two related places of work.

Disclaimer: Information provided in this article, while correct at time of publishing, is subject to change.