220.127.116.11 Mutual Obligation Requirements for NSA/YA Job Seekers Overview
Mutual obligation requirements are designed to ensure that unemployed people receiving activity tested income support payments are actively looking for work and are participating in activities that will help them into employment, unless DHS has granted the job seeker an exemption from these requirements.
Mutual obligation requirements for job seekers
A job seeker's mutual obligation requirements are generally determined by:
- their age,
- their assessed work capacity, and
- whether they have the primary responsibility for the care of a dependent child.
In return for activity tested income support payments, job seekers must meet their mutual obligation requirements, which include:
- entering into and fully complying with the terms of a Job Plan,
- demonstrating that they are actively looking for suitable paid work,
- accepting offers of suitable paid work,
- attending appointments with their employment services provider,
- attending all job interviews,
- attending approved education or training courses or programs designed to address any barriers that a job seeker may have to entering the workforce, and
- never leaving a job, training course, program or other required activity without a valid reason.
Job seekers who fail to meet their mutual obligation requirements may have their payment suspended, reduced or cancelled under the targeted compliance framework, or the job seeker compliance framework.
Policy reference: SS Guide 18.104.22.168 What Is a Job Plan?
Mutual obligation requirements for people with a partial capacity to work
A job seeker who is assessed as having a partial capacity to work will have mutual obligation requirements which match their assessed capacity to work.
Job seekers will be assessed as having a partial capacity to work if both their baseline work capacity and work capacity within 2 years with intervention are less than 30 hours per week. This can be because of a physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment.
A job seeker's mutual obligation requirements are based on their future assessed capacity with intervention. Job seekers are not required to immediately participate at the higher work capacity, however it is intended that a job seeker's capacity to participate would be built up gradually through participation in a suitable program of assistance or other appropriate employment service.
Partial capacity to work of 0-7 or 8-14 hours a week
A job seeker with an assessed capacity to work 0-7 or 8-14 hours a week can meet their mutual obligation requirements by attending a quarterly interview with DHS to discuss their participation and meeting the terms of their Job Plan. The job seeker can volunteer to accept a referral to a suitable program of assistance recommended by their ESAt/JCA, but cannot be penalised for not accepting a referral.
Partial capacity to work of 15-29 hours a week
A job seeker with an assessed capacity to work of 15-29 hours per week can fully meet their mutual obligation requirements by undertaking 15 hours per week of paid work (including self-employment) or approved study (or a combination). If fully meeting their requirements, they cannot be required to simultaneously undertake any job search or meet any other additional requirements. If they are not fully meeting their requirements through sufficient participation in the above activities, they will be required to be connected with an employment services program and to look for work of 15-29 hours a week which matches their capacity.
Partial capacity to work job seekers meeting their requirements through the above activities are not required to look for work or connect with a provider, although they can choose to volunteer for employment services should they wish to do so.
They can also meet their requirements by engaging in a suitable program of assistance recommended by their ESAt/JCA. A job seeker may be required to accept a job of less than 15 hours a week providing the work is suitable, and supplement this work with job search for suitable work of 15 hours a week. A job seeker working MORE than 15 hours a week may leave this job to accept an offer of paid work of 15 hours a week without penalty (22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199).
Example 1: Bridget is on NSA and has been assessed as having a partial capacity to work of 15-29 hours a week. Bridget works 18 hours a week at a craft store. Bridget is meeting her mutual obligation requirements in full as long as she continues working 15 or more hours a week.
Example 2: Jess is on NSA and has been assessed as having a partial capacity to work of 15-22 hours a week. Jess is currently working 20 hours a week. Jess reduces her hours to 15 hours a week and continues to satisfy her mutual obligation requirements.
Example 3: Sarah is on NSA and has been assessed as having a partial capacity to work of 15-22 hours a week. Sarah is currently working 25 hours a week. Sarah reduces her hours to 15 hours a week and continues to satisfy her mutual obligation requirements.
Act reference: SSAct section 16B Partial capacity to work
Policy reference: SS Guide 1.1.P.65 Partial capacity to work (NSA, YA (job seeker), PP & SpB (NVH)), 188.8.131.52 Job search - overview, 184.108.40.206 Job Search - Setting Job Search Requirements - General, 220.127.116.11 Suitable Activity - Study & Training
Mutual obligation requirements for principal carers
Job seekers classified under SSAct section 5 as a principal carer of a child must, unless exempted, satisfy mutual obligation requirements by complying with approved activities outlined in their Job Plan (1.1.J.25).
A principal carer will have part-time mutual obligation requirements once the youngest child in their care turns 6 years of age. However, compulsory ParentsNext participants will have participation requirements before the youngest child in their care turns 6 years of age (18.104.22.168).
A principal carer will be able to meet their part-time mutual obligation requirements in a range of ways, including through:
- suitable paid part-time work (including self-employment) of at least 30 hours per fortnight, or
- part-time approved study of at least 30 hours per fortnight (including contact and non-contact hours), or
- a combination of approved activities, i.e. study, paid work or voluntary work as described below, for at least 30 hours per fortnight, or
- voluntary work (alone or in combination with other activities for at least 30 hours per fortnight) where the principal carer lives in a poor labour market area, there are limited training opportunities locally available and there is a significant vocational aspect to the voluntary work, or
- NEIS training, on a full or part-time basis, or
- undertaking job search and/or other suitable activities in accordance with the requirements outlined in their Job Plan, as negotiated with their employment services provider.
Principal carer job seekers who are meeting their mutual obligation requirements through a combination of paid work and study for a total of at least 30 hours per fortnight are not required to remain connected to their employment services providers or accept any offers of suitable paid work.
If the principal carer is not fully meeting their mutual obligation requirements in this way, they will generally be required to look for suitable work or undertake other suitable activities as part of their Job Plan.
Principal carers who are undertaking approved study, by itself or in combination with other suitable activities, who are not fully meeting their mutual obligation requirements will be required to accept any suitable paid work that fits around any study that is outlined in their Job Plan, and is appropriate in respect of their caring responsibilities.
Principal carers who are undertaking voluntary work by itself or in combination with other suitable activities to meet their requirements must remain connected to an employment services provider.
While an early school leaver who is also a principal carer parent and is meeting their mutual obligation requirements through 30 hours a fortnight of any combination of approved study or paid employment, they cannot be required to undertake additional education and training or job search in their Job Plan.
Note: Principal carers who have begun participation in an approved course of study (1.1.P.418) while in receipt of PP (prior to transferring to NSA or YA (job seeker)) will be able to satisfy their requirements in full by completion of that course if they undertake at least 30 hours of study per fortnight.
Note: Single principal carers in receipt of NSA may undertake any full-time or part-time study as an approved activity where PES is granted for that study. Partnered principal carers who wish to begin full-time study, other than short course approved study after qualifying for NSA or YA will need to be assessed for student payments.
When a person is both a principal carer and a person with a partial capacity to work the category of mutual obligation requirements which gives the person a lesser level of requirements should be applied.
Act reference: SSAct section 5 Family relationships definitions-children, section 501A PP Employment Pathway Plan-terms, section 541(1AA) Persons who comply with Employment Pathway Plan, section 601(4A) Activity test, section 731GA Relief from activity test-certain principal carers and people with partial capacity to work
Policy reference: SS Guide 22.214.171.124 Job Search - Setting Job Search Requirements - General, 126.96.36.199 Suitable Activity - Principal Carer, 1.1.P.418 Principal carer - study, 188.8.131.52 Qualification for PES
Mutual obligation requirements job seekers aged 55 years & over
In their first 12 months on payment, job seekers aged 55 to 59 can satisfy their mutual obligation requirements through 30 hours per fortnight of paid work, or a combination of paid work and approved voluntary work, where at least 15 hours per fortnight is in paid work.
After 12 months on payment, these job seekers can satisfy their mutual obligation requirements if they undertake at least 30 hours per fortnight of approved voluntary work, paid work (including self-employment) or any combination of these activities.
Regardless of their duration on payment, job seekers aged 60 and over can satisfy their mutual obligation requirements through 30 hours per fortnight of paid work, approved voluntary work, or any combination of these activities.
When meeting their mutual obligation requirements in this way, these job seekers cannot be required to simultaneously look for additional work, or undertake other activities. However, they will remain connected to an appropriate employment services provider, and are still required to follow up on any job opportunities they are referred to and to accept suitable work if it is offered.
For the purposes of assessing how a mature-aged job seeker may fully meet their requirements, if a job seeker goes off payment for a period of less than three months (unless they are cancelled from payment), they will still be taken to be on payment during that period and this will count towards determining if they have been receiving payment for 12 months.
When a person is a mature age job seeker (55 years and over) AND a principal carer/has a partial capacity to work, the lesser requirements apply.
Mutual obligation requirements for early school leavers
To receive YA (other) people under 22 years of age without Year 12 or an equivalent qualification (referred to as early school leavers (1.1.E.05)) generally need to participate for at least 25 hours per week (15 hours per week for those early school leavers who are also principal carer parents or have a partial capacity to work of 15 to 29 hours per week) in:
- full-time education or training, or
- a combination of part-time education or training and part-time work, or
- other approved activities of 25 hours a week in addition to up to 20 compulsory job searches each month,
until they turn 22 years of age or attain Year 12 or an equivalent qualification.
Once DHS verify that the early school leaver has completed Year 12 or an equivalent qualification, the young person will no longer be an early school leaver and will become subject to the mutual obligation requirements that apply to other job seekers.
Act reference: SSAct section 601 Activity Test (NSA), section 541 Activity Test (YA), section 731A Activity test (SpB), section 542 Situations in which a person is not required to satisfy the activity test, section 544DA YA Employment Pathway Plans-early school leavers
Policy reference: SS Guide 184.108.40.206 Who do the SpB mutual obligation requirements apply to?, 3.2.11 Mutual obligation requirements for NSA/YA - exemptions, 220.127.116.11 Mutual Obligation Requirements for NSA/YA Job Seekers - Exemption - Parents & Foster Carers with Special Family Circumstances - Overview, 1.1.E.05 Early school leaver (YA), 1.1.M.160 Mutual obligation requirements