3.1.13.10 Types of Failures & Penalties

Introduction

This topic concerns the types of failure and penalties under the compliance arrangements set out in SS(Admin)Act Part 3 Division 3A. These arrangements only apply to job seekers on participation payments who are declared program participants (i.e. CDP participants) under the Social Security (Declared Program Participant) Determination 2018.

Compliance failures

If a job seeker fails to meet their mutual obligation requirements and does not have a reasonable excuse or, if the failure relates to attendance at an appointment or activity and the job seeker does not give prior notice of a reasonable excuse when it was reasonable to expect them to do so, a failure may be applied. Job seekers can incur the following failures:

  • NSNP failures,
  • connection failures,
  • non-attendance failures,
  • reconnection failures, and
  • serious failures.

If a job seeker fails to attend an appointment with their employment service provider, their payment is automatically suspended if the provider reports this to DHS, regardless of whether or not they have a reasonable excuse.

Note: If the purpose of an appointment with a provider cannot be achieved due to the behaviour of the job seeker at that appointment then a payment suspension can occur or a non-attendance failure can be applied, even though the job seeker has attended. If a job seeker attends but behaves inappropriately during an activity, then a failure can be applied.

All of the above failures, except for a connection failure, can result in a financial penalty. Although a connection failure does not result in a financial penalty, it contributes to the count of the job seeker's failures for the purpose of determining whether or not they have been persistently non-compliant.

The following table outlines the consequences under the compliance framework of various types of non-compliant conduct.

Requirement Conduct Consequence
Appointments

Failure to attend an appointment with an employment service provider or inappropriate behaviour during the appointment which results in the purpose of the appointment not being achieved.

If the provider chooses to report the non-attendance to DHS, income support payment is withheld regardless of whether the job seeker had a reasonable excuse.

Payment is reinstated when the job seeker attends a reconnection appointment (see below).

The reconnection appointment must be within 2 business days of contact taking place with the job seeker, otherwise payment is reinstated immediately.

If the job seeker failed to give prior notice of a reasonable excuse, a non-attendance failure may also be applied - loss of one-tenth of the job seeker's fortnightly participation payment for each business day until the job seeker attends the reconnection appointment, starting from the day they were informed of the failure (or were deemed to have been informed) by their provider.

Failure to attend an appointment with other provider (e.g. WFD host organisation, Skills for Education and Employment provider) and certain DHS appointments or inappropriate behaviour during the appointment which results in the purpose of the appointment not being achieved. If the job seeker's employment service provider reports the failure to DHS, income support payment is withheld, regardless of whether the job seeker had a reasonable excuse. Payment is reinstated when the job seeker agrees to attend a reconnection appointment (see below). The job seeker can also have a connection failure applied if they did not give prior notice of a reasonable excuse for their failure to attend.
Failure to attend a reconnection appointment or inappropriate behaviour during the appointment which results in the purpose of the appointment not being achieved. (Note that failing to enter a Job Plan during a reconnection appointment has different consequences - see below.)

Unless the job seeker gives prior notice, income support payment may be withheld regardless of whether the job seeker had a reasonable excuse. Payment is reinstated when the job seeker attends a further reconnection appointment.

If no reasonable excuse, a reconnection failure may also be applied - loss of one-tenth of the job seeker's fortnightly participation payment for each business day until the job seeker meets a further reconnection requirement.

Activities Failure to attend WFD, training, other work experience activities, Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) and other activities included in job seeker's Job Plan or failing to behave appropriately when participating in an activity. If the provider indicates to DHS that the job seeker has disengaged from the activity, the job seeker's income support payment is withheld, regardless of whether the job seeker had a reasonable excuse. Payment is reinstated when the job seeker agrees to attend a reconnection appointment.
If the job seeker has no reasonable excuse, a NSNP failure is applied - loss of one-tenth income support payment for each day on which a failure occurs. The penalty is deducted from the second fortnightly payment after DHS makes the decision to apply the penalty.
Failure to enter into a Job Plan (an EPP under social security law) (unless the requirement to do so is a RapidConnect requirement). Failure to enter includes outright refusal and unreasonably delaying entering the plan. If the job seeker has no reasonable excuse, a connection failure is applied and the job seeker is again required to enter into a Job Plan, but as a reconnection requirement. Failure to attend the reconnection appointment to enter into a Job Plan without a reasonable excuse is a reconnection failure. A second consecutive refusal to enter into a Job Plan by the job seeker results in cancellation of income support payment.
Employment Failure to undertake satisfactory job search. If the job seeker has no reasonable excuse, a connection failure is applied.
Failure to attend a job interview. Behaving in a manner during a job interview which results in the job seeker not receiving a job offer. If the job seeker has no reasonable excuse, a NSNP failure is applied, loss of one-tenth income support payment. The penalty is deducted from the second fortnightly payment after DHS makes the decision to apply the penalty.
Failure to accept or commence in suitable employment.

If the job seeker has no reasonable excuse, a serious failure is applied, resulting in an 8 week non-payment penalty which starts from the next fortnightly income support payment. The penalty can be waived in prescribed circumstances.

Leaving suitable employment voluntarily or being dismissed for misconduct.

If the job seeker has no reasonable excuse, an 8 week unemployment non-payment period is applied, which commences from the date of unemployment. The penalty can be waived in prescribed circumstances.

If a job seeker voluntarily leaves, is dismissed for misconduct from or fails to commence employment for which they have received relocation assistance, the non-payment period is for 12 weeks.

All Repeated failures applied for not attending appointments, job interviews or activities or refusing to enter into a Job Plan. A CCA is conducted by DHS. A serious failure may be applied, where DHS determines that the job seeker has been persistently and wilfully non-compliant resulting in an 8 week non-payment period which starts from the next income support payment. The penalty can be waived in prescribed circumstances.
All

An ongoing failure to meet one or more mutual obligation requirements, including:

  • stated refusals to undertake job search,
  • stated refusals to enter into a Job Plan, or

not meeting a reconnection requirement within 4 weeks of first being given the requirement.

Payment is cancelled due to a lack of qualification. If the job seeker wishes to be paid again they must claim the payment and demonstrate their qualification before being paid again. Due to the lack of qualification, arrears would not be applicable from the time of cancellation until the person lodges their new claim.
Last reviewed: 2 July 2018