3.2.9.30 Job Search - Setting Job Search Requirements - General

What is job search?

A job search is an instance where a job seeker actively contacts a potential employer to apply for a paid job. A job search may include contact by phone, in person, by submitting a written or online application or by attending a job interview.

Setting monthly job search requirements

The legislation does not specify the number of jobs a person is required to search for each month.

As delegates of the Secretary of the Department of Employment, employment services providers will determine the appropriate number of job searches a job seeker is required to undertake per month and specify this in the job seeker's Job Plan.

In setting the number of job searches required, employment services providers must do so in accordance with the social security law. The number of job searches generally expected to be undertaken by job seekers (including principal carer parents, and those with a partial capacity to work (15-29 hours per week) is:

  • for job seekers in jobactive:
    • stream A and B job seekers - 20 job searches per month,
    • stream C job seekers and job seekers aged 60 years and over - job search is dependent on their capacity. In general they will be expected to undertake 10 job searches per month.
  • for job seekers in DES:
    • job search is dependent on their capacity.
  • for job seekers in the CDP:
    • it is at the provider's discretion to determine the number of job searches a job seeker should undertake based on the availability of jobs in the area, seasonal employment, transport and the job seeker's personal circumstances.

As local labour market conditions and job seeker circumstances frequently change, specific rules on when to vary a job seeker's job search requirement are included in operational guidelines used by DHS and employment services providers. The broad principles underpinning those guidelines are outlined here.

The number of job searches a job seeker is required to make should be reviewed when a job seeker:

  • moves to a different labour market,
  • has their chances of finding work affected (see example below),
  • experiences major changes in their personal circumstances,
  • undertakes work.

Example: Loss of driver's license or suspension of trade qualification.

Reasons for a job seeker's job search requirements to be reduced

There are some prescribed circumstances in which employment services providers can reduce the number of job searches a job seeker is required to undertake. These include:

  • physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment, where this reasonably impedes job search,
  • alcohol or drug abuse where this is likely to impede job search,
  • substantially elevated level of family and caring responsibilities, where this is likely to impede job search,
  • accommodation situation where this is likely to impede job search,
  • education or skill level where this is likely to substantially limit job opportunities,
  • current employment status (part-time or casual work),
  • domestic violence (including family violence) or family relationship breakdown,
  • final 3 months of pregnancy,
  • low level of English language skills, where the job seeker is undertaking a course to improve these skills,
  • cultural factors,
  • the state of the labour market and the transport options available to the person in accessing that market (e.g taking into account travel time).

Example: A stream A job seeker either living in a metropolitan area or within 90 minutes travel time to a metropolitan area would typically be expected to have 20 job searches per month. Whereas, in a regional area with limited vacancies and where the travel time to more positive labour markets is more than 90 minutes, it might be appropriate that a stream A job seeker has a lower job search requirement, e.g 15 job searches per month.

Reduced job search requirements for job seekers participating in a Language, Literacy & Numeracy (LLN) course

For job seekers where employment services providers have identified a need to significantly improve their LLN skills, the number of job searches per month can be reduced during the period the job seeker is actively participating in a course designed to improve these skills.

For jobactive job seekers in stream C & job seekers aged 60 years & over

In setting an appropriate number of job searches for this cohort of job seekers, in addition to the considerations outlined above, employment services providers may also give consideration to the extent to which:

  • other non-vocational issues or vocational issues are being or have been addressed,
  • if the job seeker has undertaken re-skilling or re-training.

Note: Employment services providers should not reduce the number of job searches a job seeker is required to undertake simply because the job seeker is undertaking other activities (e.g. during the WFD phase for those in jobactive).

Job seekers with full-time mutual obligation requirements undertaking paid work

If a job seeker with full-time mutual obligation requirements is undertaking at least 40 hours of declared paid work (including self-employment) per fortnight, the number of job searches should be halved. If the job seeker is undertaking a significant number of hours of paid employment per week (i.e. well above this threshold) and receiving only a residual amount of income support employment services providers are able to reduce the number of job search further.

If a job seeker with full-time mutual obligation requirements is undertaking at least 70 hours of declared paid work (including self-employment) per fortnight, the number of job searches should be nil. Note the YA legislation though concerning 35 hours a week and paid work because these young people are ineligible for YA.

For any hours of employment to count towards reducing a job seeker's job search or other requirements, that employment must be legitimate and must be for an appropriate level of remuneration. This means that the hours worked must meet the remuneration test outlined in the sufficient work test (1.1.S.403). This is to ensure that a job seeker cannot avoid their job search or other requirements, without affecting their rate of payment, by declaring that they have worked for a number of hours for little pay. It is also to ensure they are not being exploited and taken advantage of by employers.

If casual employment has only lasted a few days, the job seeker will still be expected to undertake their usual number of job searches, as the ability to seek work over the course of a month would not have been substantially reduced by this work.

Principal carers & job seekers with partial capacity undertaking paid work

If a principal carer, or a job seeker with a partial capacity to work, is working but the hours of work is less than 30 hours per fortnight then the job seeker is required to search for work to enable them to increase their total hours of employment to at least 30 hours per fortnight. They will also be required to participate in employment services. If the person is not active with a provider they should be referred to one.

If a principal carer parent, or a job seeker with a partial capacity to work, is undertaking 11-29 hours of declared paid work (including self-employment) per fortnight the number of job searches should be halved.

A principal carer parent, or job seeker with a partial capacity to work, working 30 or more hours per fortnight will have no job search requirements as they are fully meeting their mutual obligation requirements.

Example: Cora is a principal carer parent on NSA with one child. Cora works 22 hours a fortnight as a cashier at a petrol station in her local area. Part-time work is a suitable activity but Cora is not undertaking enough hours to satisfy her mutual obligation requirements in full. Taking this part-time work into account, Cora remains registered with her employment services provider and is set a requirement of 10 job searches a fortnight in order to find a further 8 hours of work a fortnight.

Example: Louise is on NSA and has been assessed as having a partial capacity to work. Louise was fully meeting her mutual obligation requirements as she had been working 30 hours per fortnight at a local pet store. The pet store reduces her hours to 20 hours a fortnight and these hours are expected to last for the next few months. Louise's Job Plan is updated and she is now set 6 job searches per month (as Louise does not have access to a decent labour market within 60 minutes travel time from her home her job search can be reduced) so that she can find a further 10 hours of work a fortnight.

Principal carer parent - Christmas & New Year period

A principal carer parent is not required to undertake job search (or meet any other mutual obligation requirements) during the fortnight that the Christmas public holiday falls. However, they are still required to lodge their statement (1.1.S.350) to DHS for this period in order to report any earnings to stimulate their payment.

Other circumstances where a job seeker will have nil job search requirements

Job search requirements are not required for job seekers undertaking:

  • NEIS training or the NEIS programme,
  • principal carer parents and job seekers with a partial capacity to work (15-29 per week) who are meeting their mutual obligation requirements through 30 hours per fortnight of paid work (including self-employment), approved study, voluntary work in limited circumstances or a combination,
  • job seekers who are 55 years of age and over who are meeting their full-time mutual obligation requirements through 30 or more hours of paid work (including self-employment), approved voluntary work, or a combination of paid and voluntary work in a fortnight,
  • early school leavers who are undertaking the required amount of accredited education or training activities in their Job Plan.

Act reference: SSAct section 601 Activity test, section 541 Activity test, section 500A Participation requirements, section 731A Activity test, section 607(2) Newstart Employment Pathway Plans-principal carers, section 544C(2) YA Employment Pathway Plans-principal carers, section 603AB Relief from activity test-certain principal carers and people with partial capacity to work, section 541(1B) Certain principal carers and people with partial capacity to work, section 544DA Youth Allowance Employment Pathway Plans-early school leavers

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.2.8.60 Unsuitable Work, 3.2.9 Mutual Obligation Requirements for NSA/YA Job Seekers - Suitable Activities, 3.2.8.10 Mutual Obligation Requirements for NSA/YA Job Seekers Overview, 3.2.8.20 Who Do Mutual Obligation Requirements Apply to?, 3.1.13 Compliance Framework for Participation Payments, 3.2.9.20 Job Search Overview

Last reviewed: 8 February 2016