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.

This includes compulsory requirements in your Job Plan or Participation Plan.

You must meet your requirements each month to keep getting your payment. You need to:

  • agree to a Job Plan or Participation Plan
  • meet the requirements of your Plan
  • complete and report your job searches
  • go to appointments with your employment services provider, if you have one.

If you’re required to look for work, you need to:

  • go to all job interviews
  • accept any offer of suitable paid work
  • not leave a job, training course or program without a valid reason.

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

If you’re a principal carer, your requirements are different. Find out about mutual obligations if you’re a principal carer.

Your requirements will also be different if you’re over 55 or in the Community Development Program.

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

Who has mutual obligation requirements

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

How to meet your requirements

To meet your requirements, you need to do all the things in your Job Plan or Participation Plan. This applies if you’re engaged in any of the following:

  • Workforce Australia
  • Community Development Program
  • Disability Employment Services
  • ParentsNext.

You’ll also need to report any employment income earned 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.

You can check your reporting dates using either:

The points target

Most job seekers registered with Workforce Australia will need to meet a points target each month to meet their requirements. Your points target will be included in your Job Plan or Participation Plan.

Your monthly points target is based on your personal circumstances and local labour market conditions. You’ll need to reach a set number of points to meet your requirements each month.

Your points target may include a minimum number of job search efforts. If you don’t meet your minimum job search you can’t meet your points target.

Read more about your points target on the Workforce Australia website.

When your personal circumstances change

If your personal circumstances change and it’s hard for you to meet your requirements, you’ll need to let your provider know. This could include changes like your regular work hours increase or reduce or changes in your personal circumstances. Job seekers in online employment services, or Workforce Australia, can call the Department of Education, Skills and Employment’s Digital Services Contact Centre.

Contact us on your regular payment line if you’re a job seeker and either:

  • you don’t have an employment services provider
  • you’re not registered with Workforce Australia Online.

You also need to tell us if other things change, such as you move or you start a new relationship. If you don’t tell us, we could overpay you and you’ll need to pay us back. Read how to tell us about your circumstances changing when you get one of the following payments:

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
  • sick or injured
  • a disaster at home, such as fire or flood
  • short term care duties for an adult or child.

To check if you can get an exemption, call us on your regular payment line. You’ll need to give us proof of your circumstances.

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 by uploading it on your Centrelink online account through myGov, or by lodging it at a Service Centre. 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:

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

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 principal carer

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

Read about exemptions for principal carers.

Page last updated: 4 July 2022