Mutual obligation requirements

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

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 regularly.

Activities you can put in your job plan may include:

  • job search
  • training
  • study, in some situations.

You may get Education Entry Payment to help with costs if you study or train.

Employment services providers

You must use an Employment services provider. They'll help you find work. 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:

Obligation differences

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.

Starting from 20 September 2018, your options for meeting mutual obligation requirements will change if both of these apply:

  • you’re between 55 and 59 years old
  • haven’t been on payment for at least 12 months.

You can meet your requirements by doing a mix of activities. This may include voluntary work of up to 15 hours per fortnight. You must spend the other 15 hours per fortnight in suitable paid work.

Your options for meeting these requirements will change, once you either:

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

You’ll be able to use voluntary work either:

  • for up to 30 hours per fortnight
  • in combination 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

You’re exempt from mutual obligation requirements if on or after 1 July 2018 if both of these apply, you:

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:

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:

  • a crisis like 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: 18 February 2020