Mutual obligation requirements

Mutual obligation requirements are tasks and activities you agree to do while getting certain payments from us. Penalties apply if you don’t meet them.

What mutual obligation requirements are

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

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
  • doing Work for the Dole
  • other approved activities such as study, training, paid or voluntary work.

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

Who has mutual obligation requirements

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

You may also have mutual obligation requirements if you’re getting JobKeeper Payment and 1 of these payments.

What the current requirements are

Job seekers in Victoria

If you live in Victoria, no suspensions and penalties apply if you can’t meet your mutual obligations. We’ll let you know when this changes.

You can still contact your employment services provider either online or over the phone.

If you’re in online employment services you should still think about your employment and training goals. This may help you keep on track.

You still need to:

Job seekers in other states and territories

Mutual obligation requirements are compulsory.

This means if you’re a job seeker you must:

  • do all the tasks and activities listed in your Job Plan
  • go to appointments with your employment services provider
  • complete and report your job searches
  • accept any offer of suitable paid work.

If you don’t meet your mutual obligation requirements, suspensions, demerits or financial penalties may apply.

If you haven’t already, you need to do both of the following:

  • complete the Job Seeker Snapshot questionnaire
  • agree to a Job Plan.

You can do these either:

  • with your provider, if you have one
  • through the online employment service on the jobactive website.

You also need to:

If you’re a compulsory participant in ParentsNext, you’ll need to do all of these:

  • go to appointments
  • take part in set activities
  • sign a participation plan.

If you don’t your payment may stop.

When penalties apply

There are demerits and financial penalties for not meeting your mutual obligation requirements.

This applies if you’re with 1 of these:

The penalties for not meeting your mutual obligation requirements are different if you’re in the Community Development Program. 

At the moment this doesn’t apply to you if you live in Victoria. We’ll let you know when this changes.

What you need to do

If you’re a new job seeker

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.

When you sign in, you’ll see tasks to complete 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 must 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 provider
  • us if we manage your activities.

If you’re in the online employment service, you need to review and agree to your Job Plan online. If you have any problems, call the Department of Education, Skills and Employment’s Digital Services Contact Centre.

If you don’t agree to a Job Plan, your payment may stop.

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:

  • a provider
  • online employment services.

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

Employment services providers

If you need to connect to a provider, they’ll contact you to book your first appointment with them. You must attend this and all future appointments. You can do this online, over the phone or in person when safe to do so.

They can help you with all of these:

  • training
  • upskilling
  • referrals to other services
  • employment.

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.

What you need to report

If you get an income support payment from us, you must report any income earned in the past 14 days. This includes your partner’s income. It also includes JobKeeper Payment. You need to tell us even if it’s $0.

Keep in mind, you must report your and your partner’s income before we can make your first payment.

You’ll keep reporting every 14 days.

You also need to report if you’re meeting your mutual obligation requirements or not.

You can check your reporting dates using either:

When things change

If your current situation changes, like your regular work hours increase or reduce, you can either:

  • talk to your provider, if you have one

They may tailor your Job Plan to suit your current situation.

You also need to tell us if your circumstances change. If you don’t tell us, we could overpay you and you’ll need to pay us back.

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, such as 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 impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19)

We may grant you an exemption for up to 14 days without evidence if you’re either:

  • self-isolating
  • caring for someone who needs to self-isolate.

If you’re a sole trader or self employed

If you’re a sole trader or self employed you don’t have to meet mutual obligation requirements. We’ll let you know if this changes.

If you’re referred to an employment services provider, phone us on your regular payment line. We’ll tell you if you’re exempt or not.

If you’re a principal carer

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

Read about exemptions for principal carers.

Page last updated: 14 October 2020