Mutual obligation requirements

There are things you must do to keep getting your payment and have a better chance of finding work.

There are changes to claims and your obligations due to coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes changes to waiting periods, the income test, what you need to give us, and your obligations. We’ve suspended participation requirements for Disability Support Pension. We’ve also paused a range of Centrelink debt raising and recovery activities.

Who has mutual obligation requirements

You have mutual obligation requirements if you get 1 of these:

What you need to do

To keep getting your payment you need to go to your appointments and do your activities.

Job Plan

You must have a Job Plan. Your Job Plan says what you’ve agreed to do to have the best chance of getting a job.

You must agree to your Job Plan with us or your employment services provider. You’ll need to review it on a regular basis.

Employment services providers

Employment services providers help you find work. In most cases, we’ll refer you to a jobactive provider of your choice in your area.

If you:

Your provider can help you with all of these:

  • job search
  • training or study opportunities, when you’re eligible
  • computers, phones and stationery.

Read more about:

Different requirements

If you’re 55 or older

You can choose to meet your mutual obligation requirements by doing an alternative activity. You'll need to spend at least 30 hours per fortnight on this activity. This could be any of the following:

  • suitable paid work
  • self-employment
  • approved voluntary work.

You can do a mix of these options in your 30 hours.

If you want to do voluntary work you need to talk to us about it. We must agree the work is suitable and the organisation is an approved voluntary work provider.

If you’re between 55 and 59, you must do at least 15 hours per fortnight in suitable paid work. You can’t do more than 15 hours per fortnight of voluntary work.

Your options for meeting your requirements change, once you either:

  • have been on payment for 12 months
  • turn 60 years of age. 

Once either of these happen, you can do voluntary work for up to 30 hours per fortnight. Or you can do a combination of voluntary and paid work, but with less hours of paid work.

If you’re a principal carer

If you’re the person responsible for looking after a child under 16, your mutual obligation requirements are more flexible.

Read about mutual obligation requirements and exemptions for principal carers.

If you could have claimed Widow Allowance

If you could have claimed Widow Allowance, you’re exempt from mutual obligation requirements in some situations. This is the case if on or after 1 July 2018 you do both of the following:

You can volunteer with an employment services provider if you want help to find suitable work or do training.

When penalties apply

If you don’t meet your mutual obligation requirements, we can reduce or stop your payment.

Talk to your provider about what you need to do to avoid a penalty.

About compliance

There are 2 compliance systems. The systems have different rules and penalties.

The service you’re with determines which compliance system applies to you.

jobactive or Disability Employment Service 

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

You could get demerits and financial penalties if you don’t meet your requirements if you’re in either:

Read more about jobactive on their website.

Community Development Program

You may get a penalty and a failure if you don’t meet your requirements.

Read more about not meeting your mutual obligations in the Community Development Program.

What exemptions may apply

We may allow you to be exempt from mutual obligation requirements if something major happens.

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.

Page last updated: 3 April 2020