Questions and answers for employees about in-between travel payments

The Ministry of Health has been working with many interested parties in designing the in-between travel (IBT) system and its introduction. We’ll be continuing to work with employers, unions, and others to ensure the system is working well.

This guidance is for the use of employees.

On this page:

IBT questions and answers

What does this mean for me as an employee?

IBT sets out how employees will be compensated for travel spent between seeing clients.

The legislation sets down detail needed to put that into effect – including the mileage rate, qualifying distance, qualifying travel time and maximum travel distance.

The legislation is intended as a "one stop shop" where employers can check their obligations and employees can check their entitlements.  It also extinguishes retrospective and future claims, and limits the liability of employers to specific travel payments.

How has travel time been calculated?

Data was collated for support worker actual travel time and distances and various different options were explored.  What this data found was that the vast majority of support worker visits were less than 5 kilometres.  Based on the information provided the parties agreed on a one band model based on average journeys that was simple and easy to administer. The calculations are based on averages that are specified in the legislation.

The average travel time for support workers travelling between clients has been calculated at 8.5 minutes. This time is paid at the minimum wage and an allowance for time from your car to the door of the client’s home is also included in the new travel time payment. The average distance support workers travel has been calculated at 3.7 kilometres and this has been multiplied by 50cents per kilometre. This is the basis on which payments have been calculated.

Parties also agreed that support workers would not be financially disadvantaged overall by this arrangement, you can find out more information about this later in this communication.

The interim solution introduced payment for travel time.  The full solution includes payment for travel time and Exceptional Travel, and also introduces payment for travel distance reimbursement.  For each client visit up to 15 km one way (except for the first visit each day), you will receive the following payment:

  Employee paid
Travel time From 29 February 2016: $2.09 (before tax) for that visit
From 1 April 2016: $2.16 (before tax) for that visit
Travel distance $1.85 (not taxed) for that visit

What do I need to do differently?

Providers will differ in how they handle claiming by employees, but IBT may mean some changes in how you claim for travel between clients.

Your employer has received guidance on IBT and can advise you on what they need from you to claim for travel.

How does IBT work out my payment?

The legislation and guidance to your employer sets out:

  • the mileage rate
  • the method for calculating or basis for ascertaining an HCS employee’s qualifying distance and qualifying travel time
  • the maximum distance to a client visit before travel is treated as exceptional travel.

What is exceptional travel?

IBT specifies a band for distance travelled and a mileage payment.

Exceptional travel is paid after the banded range has been exceeded. 

Under IBT, travel will need to exceed 15kms one way to a client (from either the employees normal place of residence for the first visit, or for subsequent visits, the location of the last client) for exceptional travel to be payable. 

Exceptional travel will be paid where no other home and community support employee is available who can meet the specific needs of the client.

While you may not notice a lot of difference from the existing interim arrangements, the legislation will introduce ‘Exceptional Travel’ for Ministry Health and DHB visits (ACC already covers these). 

This means where you are required to travel a distance in excess of 15km because there is no other employee available who can meet the specific needs of the client you will be paid for the actual distance and time spent in travel.  This payment for Exceptional Travel will apply for first visits each day as well as travel home from last visits each day or in-between clients throughout each day. 

You will need to talk to your employer to find out whether you need a log or report your Exceptional Travel (or any travel distances).  Even if your employer does not require this is it may be useful to keep a log for the first couple of weeks whilst the new system is being introduced. It is critical that your roster is kept up to date and accurate, as this is where that information is drawn from.

For any visit which involves Exceptional Travel you will get paid the following:

  Employee Paid
Travel time Part of $15.25 (or $14.75 between 29 February 2016 and 31 March 2016) depending on how many minutes you travelled to that client (a full hour’s travel currently= $15.25) (before tax) or half hour travelled = $7.63 (before tax)
Travel distance  50 cents for each km travelled for trips over 15km (not taxed)

What can I do if I disagree with my payment?

You should speak to your employer in the first instance. If you need to take matters further, you can use the dispute resolution provisions of the Employment Relations Act. You may wish to seek union, or other employment relations, advice at this point.

Where do I go for further information?

The In-between travel page will be updated as necessary.

The website pages includes the detailed technical guidance provided to your employer, as well as this guidance to employees.

The Home and Community Support (Payment for Travel Between Clients) Settlement Bill legislation is also a source for further information. It includes a schedule of payments.

What about payments for visiting clients who are receiving ACC support?

The ACC, while not a party to the settlement, agreed to enter into similar arrangements in respect of the home and community-based support services that it funds.

Travel payments under the ACC model

These will also change slightly, as the threshold for Exceptional Travel has been lowered from 20km to 15km.  The start point under the ACC model will now always be the employee’s home, where previously it was the closer to the employee’s home or the work branch/office of the client’s provider. This means all Exceptional Travel is now paid in the same way.

ACC will continue to fund for first visits each day.

Will there be future changes to IBT?

IBT is a new system and we expect there may be adjustments to reflect what happens once it is full operation in the sector.

For that reason, there will be ongoing engagement with the settlement parties and other key interested groups and our guidance will be updated where appropriate.

The legislation provides as well for an annual review of the IBT schedule of payments.

Is it correct the Home and Community Support workforce is under review?

As part of the settlement, the Ministry has committed to review a possible move to a regularised workforce for HCS. This work is ongoing.

What if I'm financially disadvantaged?

It is important to note that the legislation states that no employee employed prior to the Interim Solution which started on 1 July 2015 will be financially disadvantaged by the change to the payment system. If your entitlement for travel time and costs is less overall under the new system than it was prior to the interim solution, you will be compensated to make sure you are not disadvantaged.  The comparison is taken from the pay period prior to 1 July 2015 (no other time period applies) and the pay period following implementation of the new system.

How did we get this arrangement?

As you may recall the PSA lodged a legal case about home support workers not being paid travel time and as a result of that the Unions (PSA and E tū), Providers, Ministry of Health and DHBs entered into negotiations and reached an agreement that included payment for travel time, a standard travel cost payment and transitioning to a regularised workforce. A majority of all support workers voted in favour of the settlement.

It was intended that the new travel time payments would be introduced and paid from the 1st July 2015, however the work had not been completed to introduce these in time. Therefore support workers received an interim arrangement whilst the final calculations were made.  The interim payment for time was higher because it included MOH and DHB funding for exceptional travel time which will now be paid separately. The interim payment will be replaced by the new arrangement detailed below.

Do I have to keep a log for travel?

Only for trips that are for exceptional travel and if your employer doesn’t have systems to collect the time and distance for these trips.    Even if you do not need to keep a log for any travel it may be useful to keep one initially whilst the transition to the new system happens.

If I am providing care for one client for two hours, do I get paid a travel allowance for the second hour?

Not if the second hour is continuous with the first hour and doesn’t require a second separate visit. The payments are to compensate for travel time and costs between clients. Your normal hourly rate is paid for time with clients which does not include current hourly payments for travel costs. The standard or Exceptional Travel payments replace any travel allowance that has been paid previously.

Is the new payment on top of what I currently get paid for travel?

No, this payment replaces the interim payment and cost payments that you are currently getting. 

What about the ACC rule about the shorter distance payment from either a Support Worker’s home or the branch? Is that still valid?

The new rules mean you will always be paid from the Support Worker’s home.  This payment replaces the interim payment that you are currently getting.

Will a Support Worker be paid Exceptional Travel for 1st visit of each day, travel home of each day and in-between travel throughout the day?

Yes, but only for distances greater than 15km where there is no other employee available who can meet the specific needs of the client.  For distances 15km and under (standard travel), eligible IBT payments will be made.

I travel to the same client more than once a day, do I get paid for both trips?

Yes, provided it is not the first client of the day (except where first client of the day is an ACC Client), and each visit is logged as an appointment in your roster.

What about travel during peak traffic, poor roads, the time it takes to find a park, and time taken to get from car to the clients door?

There is an amount built into the ‘time’ payment to allow for these circumstances.

I walk, bike or catch the bus to support my clients, will I get these arrangements?

Yes, you will be paid in the same way as everyone else. For exceptional travel you will be paid as if you were driving in-between clients.

What happens next?

A monitoring group has been set up with representatives from Unions, Providers, DHB’s, ACC and the MOH to look at a range of issues going forward including increasing 50c to 60c per kilometre, the impact the minimum wage increase has had, and financial disadvantage for support workers.

Payment examples

All examples are relevant to ACC, DHB and Ministry of Health client visits.

Standard Travel (No Exceptional Travel): From home to Client A (4kms) $0.00. Note: ACC will pay for this first visit. From client A to client B (10kms) $3.94. From Client B to Client C (5km) $3.94. From Client C to home (3km) $0.00
Example 1 – Standard Travel (No Exceptional Travel)

Example 2 – Round Trip Exceptional Travel: From home to Client D (34km, 30 mins travel time) $24.38. From Client D to home (34km, 32 mins travel time) $24.87
Example 2 – Round Trip Exceptional Travel

Example 3 – Standard Travel and Exceptional Travel: From home to Client E (4km) $0.00 Note: ACC will pay for this first visit. From Client E to Client F (16km, 30 mins travel time) $15.38. From client F to Client G (5km) $3.94. From Client G to home (21km, 25 mins travel time) $16.65
Example 3 – Standard Travel and Exceptional Travel

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