Mutual obligation requirements

Mutual obligation requirements are tasks and activities you agree to do while you get some payments from us. Penalties may 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 includes these details.

You can find out if there is a pause of requirements.

To keep getting your payment, you need to do all of the following:

  • agree to a Job Plan
  • meet the requirements of your plan
  • go to appointments with your employment services provider, if you have one.

You may also need to complete and report your job searches.

You may need to look for work as a requirement to keep getting your payment. You’ll need to do all of the following:

  • go to all job interviews
  • accept any offer of suitable paid work
  • not leave a job, training course or program, unless you have a valid reason.

If you don’t meet your requirements, demerits and financial penalties may apply.

You have different requirements if you’re:

Who has mutual obligation requirements

You have mutual obligation requirements if you get:

You don’t have mutual obligation requirements but will have participation requirements if both of the following apply:

  • you get Disability Support Pension (DSP)
  • you are younger than 35 and meet other rules.

Read more about meeting participation requirements if you’re under 35 and getting DSP.

How to meet your requirements

To meet your requirements, you need to do all the things you’ve agreed to do in your Job Plan.

You’ll also need to report any employment income in the past 14 days to us. This includes your partner’s income. 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.

If your Centrelink online account is linked to myGov you can check your reporting dates online.

Sign in to myGov

You can also use the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app.

If you don’t have a myGov account or a Centrelink online account you’ll need to create them.

The points target

If you’re with Workforce Australia you’ll have a points target. You’ll need to earn a set number of points each month to meet your requirements.

Your provider will calculate your monthly points target based on your personal circumstances and local labour market conditions. You earn points for doing tasks and activities that help you to find and keep work, such as:

  • applying for jobs
  • participating in training
  • going to job interviews.

Your points target may include a minimum job search requirement. If you don’t meet your requirements, you may get a demerit or a penalty.

You can find your points target and track your progress using your Workforce Australia online account either by:

Read more about your points target on the Workforce Australia website, including content in your language.

You don’t have a points target if you’re a participant in either of these Workforce Australia programs:

  • Transition to Work
  • ParentsNext.

The points target also doesn’t apply to participants in either:

  • the Community Development Program
  • Disability Employment Services.

Fully meeting your mutual obligation requirements

Some job seekers can fully meet their requirements through paid work, approved study, volunteering, a combination of these activities or other approved activities.

If you’re fully meeting your requirements, you don’t need to connect with an employment services provider.

If you’re not connected with employment services, you’ll need to have a Job Plan with us.

You’ll need to report to us about your participation activities set out in your Job Plan.

This process may apply to you if you’re with one of the following employment services:

From 1 July 2024, there’s changes for job seekers 55 and over who are fully meeting their requirements.

Extra help to fully meet your mutual obligation requirements

From 1 July 2024, if you’re fully meeting your requirements, you don’t need to connect with an employment services provider.

You can choose to volunteer with an employment services provider. If you do, you can contact one of the following services to talk about your situation:

If you stop fully meeting your requirements, we’ll refer you to an employment services provider to help you look for work.

For more information about the changes, you can either:

  • contact your employment services provider
  • call us on your regular Centrelink payment line.

If you’re unable to meet your requirements

If you’re unable to meet your requirements, you’ll need to either:

When your personal circumstances change

You need to tell us if your personal circumstances change. For example, you may be:

  • moving
  • starting a new relationship
  • having an increase or reduction in your regular work hours
  • finding it hard to meet your requirements.

If you don’t tell us, we could overpay you and you’ll need to pay us back. Or you could miss out on extra support.

Read how to tell us about change in your circumstances when you get one of the following payments:

If you’re a Workforce Australia Online participant, you can find more information on how to reach out to them on the Workforce Australia website.

What exemptions may apply

You may find it hard to meet your requirements in certain circumstances. If so, you can ask us for a temporary exemption.

You may get a temporary exemption if you’re experiencing a crisis such as:

  • the death of an immediate family member
  • family and domestic violence
  • being homeless.

You may also get a temporary exemption in other situations such as:

  • you’re sick or injured and have an approved medical certificate
  • disaster such as fire or flood has affected you
  • you have short term caring duties
  • you’re pregnant and the expected date of birth is less than 6 weeks away
  • you had a baby less than 6 weeks ago
  • you’re a principal carer of 4 or more dependent children.

If you’re sick or injured, you may be temporarily exempt from your requirements. You’ll need to give us an approved medical certificate. You can do this by either:

The medical certificate must state why you’re unfit to work and for how long. You’ll need to give us a medical certificate if you’re getting any of the following:

If you’re not sick or injured and you need an exemption, call us on your regular payment line. You’ll need to give us proof of your circumstances.

While we assess your request for an exemption, you need to keep meeting your requirements. This includes attending appointments with your provider.

If you have any concerns about attending face-to-face meetings or training talk to your provider. This includes if COVID-19 has affected you.

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 have a reduced capacity to work

If you have a medical condition that affects your ability to work, you’ll need to tell us. You may have a reduced capacity to work, but we’ll need to assess this.

A reduced capacity means you can’t work at least 30 hours a week, usually due to an ongoing medical condition. You’ll need to attend your appointments and meet your compulsory requirements unless we give you an exemption.

Page last updated: 13 June 2024.
QC 29751