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.
We have information in different languages about Mutual obligation requirements
Call our Multilingual Phone Service to speak with us in your language about your Centrelink payments and services.
Mutual obligation requirements are tasks and activities you agree to do, to help you find a job. Your Job Plan lists these.
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 study, training, paid or voluntary work.
You may have different mutual obligation requirements if you’re either:
You have mutual obligation requirements if you get any of these:
- JobSeeker Payment
- Youth Allowance as a job seeker
- Parenting Payment and are a compulsory ParentsNext participant
- Parenting Payment single after your youngest child turns 6
- Special Benefit paid under certain conditions.
You may also have mutual obligation requirements if you’re getting JobKeeper Payment and 1 of these payments.
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
Until 27 September, 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
- do the tasks on your online employment services dashboard, if you don’t have a provider
- do the activities in your Job Plan if it is safe to do so, including job searches.
Suspensions and penalties may apply if you don’t accept an offer of suitable paid work.
From 28 September 2020, 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 employment services 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.
Penalties until 27 September
Your payment may be cancelled for at least 4 weeks if you refuse suitable work without a reasonable excuse.
If your payment is cancelled for refusing suitable work, you won’t be able to get a payment again for at least 4 weeks.
This doesn’t apply if you live in Victoria, or are with a ParentsNext or Community Development Program provider.
Penalties from 28 September
This applies if you’re with 1 of these:
This doesn’t apply to you if you live in Victoria, or with a Community Development Program provider.
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 employment services provider
- us if we manage your activities.
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 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:
- an employment services 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:
- referrals to other services
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 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
- call the Department of Education, Skills and Employment’s Digital Services Contact Centre, if you’re in online employment services.
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.
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 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.
We may grant you an exemption for up to 14 days without evidence if you’re either:
- caring for someone who needs to self-isolate.
Page last updated: 24 September 2020
This information was printed 23 September 2020 from https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/topics/mutual-obligation-requirements/29751. It may not include all of the relevant information on this topic. Please consider any relevant site notices at https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/site-notices when using this material.