Mutual obligation requirements

Mutual obligation requirements are tasks and activities you agree to while getting certain payments from us.

From 4 August 2020, you need to meet your mutual obligation requirements. Suspensions and penalties apply only if you refuse an offer of suitable work. We’ll let you know when this changes. These requirements don’t apply, if you live in Victoria.

What mutual obligation requirements are

Mutual obligation requirements are approved tasks and activities you agree to do to help you find a job. Your Job Plan lists these approved tasks and activities.

Job Plan

Your Job Plan may include 1 or more of the following:

  • attending appointments with an employment services provider or us
  • job searches, including looking for work and applying for jobs
  • other approved activities such as training, paid or voluntary work.

Who has mutual obligation requirements

You have mutual obligation requirements if you get any of these:

What the current requirements are

In March 2020, requirements were temporarily paused due to coronavirus (COVID-19). For most people there’s a gradual return of requirements from 4 August.

Job seekers in Victoria

If you live in Victoria, you should continue to meet the limited requirements introduced on 9 June. This means you should engage with your employment services provider online or over the phone. No penalties or suspensions will apply if you can’t. We’ll let you know when this changes.

You also still need to:

Job seekers in other states and territories

We’re slowly reintroducing mutual obligation requirements.

From 4 August 2020, you need to do all of these:

  • complete the Job Seeker Snapshot questionnaire
  • agree to a Job Plan
  • go to appointments, either online or over the phone, with your employment services provider
  • the tasks on your online employment services dashboard, if you don’t have a provider
  • the activities in your Job Plan if it is safe to do so, including job searches
  • accept any offer of suitable paid work.

You also still need to:

You may have different mutual obligation requirements if you’re either:

When penalties apply

From 4 August, your payment may be cancelled if you refuse suitable work without a reasonable excuse. This includes:

  • accepting a suitable job offer
  • starting a job you’ve accepted.

If your payment is cancelled for refusing suitable work, you won’t be able to get a payment again for at least 4 weeks. If we cancel your payment, it won’t affect your family payments.

This doesn’t apply if you’re in the Community Development Program or ParentsNext.

There are no penalties if you live in Victoria.

What you need to do

Once we approve your claim, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment will contact you. They’ll tell you how to access the online employment service. This is where you can manage your Job Plan and tasks online.

Once signed in, you’ll see tasks on your dashboard.

Complete a Job Seeker Snapshot questionnaire

The Job Seeker Snapshot is a series of questions about your circumstances. It helps to work out what employment assistance and services you need. You’ll complete this after you submit your claim.

Agree to a Job Plan

You need to agree to a Job Plan. It lists the tasks and activities you agree to do to help you find a job.

These tasks and activities are your mutual obligation requirements. You can negotiate your Job Plan with either your employment services provider or us.

If you’re in the online employment service, you need to review and agree to the Job Plan online. If you have any problems, call the Department of Education, Skills and Employment’s Employment Services National Customer Service Line.

Report your income and any changes to circumstances

You must report your income and tell us about any changes to your circumstances. This includes any JobKeeper Payments from your employer.

If you don’t report your income, you could get paid the wrong amount. If this happens, you may get a debt you have to pay back.

Income reporting is a requirement for all job seekers. You’ll need to report your income before you get your first payment.

Connect to employment services

Generally, there are 2 ways to connect with employment services. The information you provide in your Job Seeker Snapshot questionnaire will decide this.

You’ll connect with either:

  • online employment services
  • an employment services provider.

In some situations, we may manage your tasks and activities. We’ll let you know if this applies to you.

Online employment services

You’ll continue to see tasks on your dashboard. You need to complete these tasks to help you find and keep a job.

Read more about the online employment service on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.

Employment services providers

Your employment services provider will contact you directly to book an appointment. You need to attend all your appointments. You can do this online or over the phone.

They can help you with all of these:

  • training
  • upskilling
  • employment.

If you’re starting to go back to work after Coronavirus, talk to your provider. They can tailor your Job Plan to suit your current situation.

What exemptions may apply

You may be exempt from mutual obligation requirements in certain circumstances.

This could be something like:

  • a crisis such as the death of an immediate family member, domestic violence or being homeless
  • a disaster at home, for example fire or flood
  • short term care duties for an adult or child.

If you’re sick, or injured, you may be temporarily exempt from your requirements. You’ll need to give us a medical certificate. You can do this using your Centrelink online account through myGov. The medical certificate must state why you’re unfit to work and for how long.

Call us on your regular payment line to ask if you can get an exemption. You’ll need to give us proof of what’s going on.

If you’re a principal carer

You may be exempt from mutual obligation requirements in some family situations.

Read about exemptions for principal carers.

If you’re impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19)

If you’re in isolation at home, we may grant you an exemption for up to 14 days.

If you’re a principal carer you may also be exempt if either:

  • your child’s childcare centre has closed
  • you’re caring for an adult with a disability or special needs whose day service or supported workplace premises closes.

Read about changes to managing your payment.

Page last updated: 5 August 2020