What happens when you give us a medical certificate

We use your medical certificate to work out if you need an exemption from your mutual obligation requirements for a certain time. This is so you can keep getting JobSeeker Payment.

We assess your need for a temporary incapacity exemption based on your medical certificate. Giving us a medical certificate doesn’t always mean we’ll give you an exemption.

This might include where any of these apply:

  • there’s not enough information from the doctor for us to decide
  • your inability to work isn’t temporary
  • you’re able to work, or participate in suitable activities for more than 8 hours per week
  • substance abuse is the main cause you’re unable to work.

If we need more information, we may contact you.

Until 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 we give you an exemption

We may give you an exemption in certain conditions.

This is if your medical certificate shows you’re unable to do either of these for at least 8 hours per week:

  • any suitable work
  • participate in other activities such as training.

If we give you an exemption, we’ll tell you:

  • how long the exemption is for
  • if you need to do any activities.

Maximum exemption period

Generally, the maximum exemption you can get is 13 weeks from the start date on the medical certificate.

Further exemptions

You can ask for a further exemption if you’re still unable to undertake your requirements when your medical certificate ends. This is only if your incapacity remains temporary. You’ll need to give us a new medical certificate. We may be refer you for an Employment Services Assessment (ESAt) to assess your ability to work.

Serious illness

If you have a serious illness you may get a longer exemption. This exemption can be up to 12 months.

Serious illness includes any of the following examples: 

  • cancer
  • acquired brain injury
  • serious burns
  • organ transplants
  • physical injury requiring long recovery periods
  • severe mental health issues.

If we don’t give you an exemption

If we don’t give you an exemption, we’ll discuss what your options are. This may include other activities or services to help you meet your mutual obligation requirements.

There may be other reasons for you to get an exemption from your requirements other than a medical condition.

If you have an ongoing sickness, injury or disability

Your employment services provider may refer you for an ESAt which helps us understand:

  • your barriers to work
  • your capacity to work due to sickness, injury or disability
  • what type of employment services provider is best for you.

You need to attend the assessment even if we’ve given you an exemption. We’ll let you know the outcome.

Page last updated: 3 March 2022.
QC 54338