Ordinary Waiting Period


An OWP is a period of one week that recipients are required to serve unless exempted. An OWP is to be served after certain other relevant waiting periods or preclusion periods have ended.

Payments the OWP applies to

The OWP applies to the following payments:

  • newstart allowance,
  • youth allowance (applies to YA jobseekers only),
  • parenting payment, AND
  • sickness allowance.

Duration of OWP

The duration of the OWP is explained in the following table:

If the recipient is… Then the OWP lasts one week and starts on…
NOT subject to a LAWP, the recipient's start day.
subject to a LAWP, the day after the LAWP ends.

For NSA incapacitated and SA the start date may be earlier than the date of claim.

Policy reference: SS Guide Backdated start days - general provisions

Interaction of the OWP & IMP

The IMP begins on the day the recipient receives their leave entitlements, whereas the OWP starts on the person's start date (usually the date of claim) or the date after all other waiting periods have finished. If a recipient claims or is taken to have claimed, on the day after their employment has been terminated, and this is also the day they are paid out their leave entitlements, then the OWP will commence when the person's rate of payment will become payable at a rate greater than nil (unless one or more other waiting periods still apply). If a recipient claims and has leave entitlements paid out at a later date or has received their leave payments before they claim, the OWP is served from the start date and the IMP begins when leave entitlements are received.

Instances when recipients do not serve an OWP

A person is not subject to an OWP if they are:

  • reclaiming within 13 weeks of last receiving a social security benefit or allowance, OR
  • in severe financial hardship and is also experiencing a personal financial crisis because at some time in the 4 weeks immediately before the person's start day:
    • they have been subjected to domestic violence,
    • they incurred unavoidable or reasonable expenditure,
    • the person was in gaol or psychiatric confinement,
    • the person first entered Australia and was the holder of a humanitarian visa on that entry to Australia, OR,
    • the person's principal place of residence was lost or sustained major damage as a result of an extreme circumstance, OR
  • undertaking:
    • an activity as part of Stream C employment services, OR
    • a rehabilitation program (DES - DMS - see note below), OR
    • an activity as part of the CDP for a person who would otherwise have been referred to Stream C employment services or DES - DMS, if not for the person being placed in CDP.

Note: Under the definitions in the SSAct and the Disability Services Act 1986, a 'rehabilitation program' means DES - DMS.

People undertaking an activity as part of CDP will be eligible for the exemption based on their ESAt (1.1.E.104). The ESAt is used to determine a job seeker's barriers to employment, work capacity, and referral to an appropriate employment services program or stream. CDP participants may be exempt from the OWP if their ESAt indicates that they would have been referred to Stream C or DES - DMS.

Act reference: SSAct section 620 Ordinary waiting period, section 620(2) Subsection (1) does not apply…

Policy reference: SS Guide 1.1.P.236 Personal financial crisis - OWP, 1.1.S.125 Severe financial hardship - OWP, SWPP, LAWP, IMP, Application of Waiting Periods, Exemptions from Waiting Periods

Last reviewed: 3 July 2017