*** This page was last updated on 28/9/20. We will continue to update this page as mutual obligations changes occur. Please be advised that in 2019, the Department of Human Services (Centrelink) was renamed Services Australia.***
What are mutual obligation requirements?
Mutual obligation requirements are tasks and activities that you agree to do to help YOU find employment while receiving payments from Services Australia. These tasks and activities are outlined in a Job Plan and can include one or more of the following:
- attending appointments with employment service providers;
- job searching, including looking for work and applying for a certain number of jobs per month; and
- attending approved activities such as study, training, paid or voluntary work
If you receive any of the following payments from Services Australia, then you have mutual obligations:
- JobSeeker Payment
- Youth Allowance
- Parenting Payment single
- Special Benefit paid under certain conditions
You may also have mutual obligation requirements if you’re getting JobKeeper Payment and one of the above payments.
What is a Job Plan?
A Job Plan is an agreed plan that demonstrates you are actively looking for work. It contains everything related to your job search and outlines all tasks you need to undertake. A Job Plan may specify the minimum number of jobs you need to apply for per month, how many appointments you need to attend with your employment services provider, training courses you need to attend. It may also include other activities such as resume assistance, volunteering, and connecting you with health support. You can access your Job Plan through the jobactive dashboard.
What are the recent changes to mutual obligations since the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began?
In March this year when Coronavirus first hit, mutual obligations were temporarily paused for all Australians. But with the Morrison government extending the JobSeeker Coronavirus Supplement to the end of 2020, the government has also begun to reinstate mutual obligations for job seekers in all states except for Victoria.
Mutual obligations have been reintroduced in phases with the next rollout occurring on Monday 28 September. Previous reintroductions occurred on 9 June and 4 August. Under the latest rollout from Monday 28 September, job seekers in all states (except for Victoria until further notice) must:
- Participate in meetings with their employment service provider (participation can be via phone or online)
- Review and accept a Job Plan
- Apply for a minimum of eight jobs per month (up from four per month introduced on 4 August)
- Participate in events and activities (e.g. volunteer work)
- Attend any interview offers and any subsequent offers of paid work
What happens if I am unable to meet my mutual obligations requirements?
Under normal conditions (before Coronavirus), if you could not meet your mutual obligation requirements, Services Australia could penalise job seekers by cancelling payments. From March, Services Australia stopped penalties for mutual obligations, but on 4 August these were reinstated.
If a job seeker rejects a suitable employment proposal without a legitimate reason or fails to attend interviews, Services Australia may cancel payments. If payments are cancelled, job seekers will need to reapply for support and wait for four weeks before they receive payments again.
To avoid penalties for not being able to meet any of your mutual obligations requirements, you must notify your employment services provider or Services Australia immediately and explain why.
Only a few emergency circumstances may be deemed reasonable for failing to attend appointments. Some examples include:
- An emergency or crisis, e.g. sudden death of an immediate family member, domestic violence or homelessness
- A disaster at home, e.g., fire or flood
- Short-term care responsibilities for an adult or child
These are just guidelines, but for exemption approval, you need to call Services Australia. They will either approve or deny your request, based on the circumstances (you will need to provide proof of your situation).
To avoid penalties, you also need to report the following to Services Australia:
- Any other payments received by you and your partner
- Any changes in circumstances (e.g. worked during the reporting time frame)
These need to be reported within two weeks or receiving outside payments.
Mutual Obligations Reintroduction Phases
Below is a summary of mutual obligations and the different phases. Please note that the below applies to all Australian states except for Victoria.
Meet with employment service provider
Agree to Job Plan
Minimum number of jobs to apply for
Participate in activities from Job Plan
Attend interview offers and subsequent work offers
Payments suspended for not attending appointments
9 June 2020
4 August 2020
28 September 2020
Job seekers in Victoria
If you live in Victoria, no suspensions and penalties apply if you can’t meet your mutual obligations.
You still have the ability to contact your employment services provider either online or over the phone to discuss your employment and training goals to help you keep on track. You still need to:
- Tell us about any changes to your circumstances; and
- Report your income.
Which participants are not affected by the resumption of Mutual Obligation requirements?
Mutual obligation requirements will not apply to participants living in or attending a site located in Victoria, or who have been granted an exemption by Services Australia.
Services Australia may grant exemptions may be granted to participants who:
- indicate they may be affected by COVID-19. These participants must be advised not to attend any appointment and to call Services Australia;
- temporarily cannot meet requirements for medical or other reasons;
- are sole traders or self-employed, so they can attempt to re-establish their business;
- have unexpected caring responsibilities;
- are experiencing a major personal crisis;
- are in the latter stages of pregnancy;
- are experiencing domestic violence;
- are affected by natural disaster.
How can AimBig support you during this challenging time?
AimBig Employment has moved most appointments to phone or online (depending on location). Keeping our job seekers safe is the utmost priority for us at AimBig Employment, and we want to ensure that we can provide our services, no matter your location.
During your initial appointment with AimBig Employment, your consultant will work with you to build a Job Plan that works for you, considering your interests and personal circumstances.
From there on, we will ensure that you continue to meet your mutual obligations and avoid penalties and payment suspensions. More importantly, we will work with you until you secure paid employment doing something that you enjoy and that suits your unique needs.
If you have any further questions about mutual obligations requirements or need help with your job search, call us on 1300 034 997.