The ATO on Fri 23.1.2015, issued ATO ID 2015/1 (FBT: exempt benefits: work-related counselling – training courses or activities for employees being made redundant). According to the ID, the payment for, or reimbursement of, a training course or activity provided under a worker retraining program by an employer to an employee being made redundant does not relate to any matter specified in para (d) of the definition of “work-related counselling” in s 136(1) of the FBTAA.

[FJM Note:    I can’t see why counseling for ‘redundancy’ is not something ‘similar’ to ‘retirement problems’ under paras (d)(vi)&(viii) of the definition of ‘work-related counseling’ – see below.]

[LTN 15, 23/1/15]

Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act – s136(1)

work-related counselling :

(a)      in relation to an employee of an employer, means counselling attended by the employee; and

(b)      in relation to an associate of an employee of an employer, means counselling attended by the associate where the associate is accompanied by the employee;

where all of the following conditions are satisfied:

(c)      the attendance of:

(i)      if paragraph (a) applies – the employee; and

(ii)     if paragraph (b) applies – both the employee and the associate;

at the counselling gives effect to an objective, purpose, plan or policy devised, adopted or required to be followed, by the employer to:

(iii)    improve or maintain the quality of the performance of employees’ duties; or

(iv)     prepare employees for retirement;

(d)      the counselling relates to any of the following matters:

(i)      safety;

(ii)     health;

(iii)    fitness;

(iv)     stress management;

(v)      personal relationships;

(vi)     retirement problems;

(vii)    drug or alcohol abuse;

(viii)   rehabilitation or prevention of work-related trauma or of other disease or injury;

(ix)     first aid;

(x)      any similar matter;

(e)      there is no benefit that:

(i)      is provided in respect of the employment of the employee;

(ii)     consists of the provision of, or relates to, the counselling; and

(iii)    is provided wholly or principally as a reward for services rendered or to be rendered by the employee.