3.11.2 Job Plans


A Job Plan is an 'employment pathway plan' for the purposes of social security law.

For job seekers with mutual obligation requirements the Job Plan will record all the activities that the job seeker must undertake to satisfy those requirements under social security law.

The Job Plan must take into account the job seeker's individual circumstances, in particular their assessed work capacity (where relevant), their capacity to comply with requirements and their personal needs.

All job seekers without an exemption from their mutual obligation requirements (3.11.5) will need to have a Job Plan created when they claim payment. A person is not qualified for payment if they are not prepared to enter into and comply with the compulsory terms of a Job Plan. Job Plans should be reviewed and updated if required whenever a job seeker's circumstances change, they need to participate in a new activity, or their mutual obligation requirements change.

A Job Plan must be in a form approved by the Secretary of DESE. This is a legal requirement under social security law.

Delegates (such as employees of employment services providers) and Services Australia are delegated certain powers under social security law by the Secretary of DESE, including the power to require a job seeker to enter into a Job Plan, and the power to approve or update a job seeker's Job Plan.

Contents of a Job Plan

The Job Plan records activities for the job seeker to undertake or participate in such as job search requirements, the requirement to attend provider appointments, the requirement to attend job interviews with prospective employers, and the requirement to act on any referrals from employment services providers to specific job opportunities. It also includes annual activity requirements (where relevant) and the requirement to participate in any other suitable activity that will enable a job seeker to improve their employment prospects and to satisfy their mutual obligation requirements under social security law. Most job seekers will need to undertake a range of approved activities in order to meet their mutual obligation requirements. This will depend on their circumstances, whether they have part-time or full-time mutual obligation requirements, their capacity to comply, and whether they have an annual activity requirement.

The contents of the Job Plan should focus on achieving sustainable paid employment, including looking for a particular number of jobs each month. However, for early school leavers, the primary requirement should generally be undertaking an approved course of education, training or other approved activities that, on completion, will improve their employment prospects (3.11.9). The courses, training and activities should be vocationally orientated and designed to improve the job seeker's capacity and skills to enable them to secure and undertake suitable paid work.

A Job Plan must meet the needs of an individual job seeker and not place unreasonable demands on the job seeker, having regard to the job seeker's individual circumstances. A person must be capable of meeting all requirements included in a Job Plan, both individually and in combination. If a person is not capable of undertaking a certain mutual obligation requirement (or a combination of requirements), then that requirement (or combination of requirements) cannot be included in their Job Plan.

Under social security law, in deciding whether a person is capable of meeting the requirements of their Job Plan, the matters the Secretary must take into account include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • the person's education, experience, skills and age
  • the impact of any disability, illness, mental condition or physical condition of the person on the person's ability to work, to look for work or to participate in training activities
  • the state of the local labour market and the transport options available to the person in accessing that market
  • the participation opportunities available to the person
  • the family and caring responsibilities of the person
  • the length of travel time required to comply with the requirements
  • the financial costs (such as travel costs) of complying with the requirements, and the person's capacity to pay for such costs, and
  • any other matters that the Secretary or the person considers relevant in the circumstances.

Care should be taken when determining the contents of a Job Plan for job seekers with part-time or reduced mutual obligation requirements - for example, due to health issues or family/caring responsibilities - to ensure that the job seeker not only has the capacity to meet the individual item (activity), but the sum total of the contents of the Job Plan.

Job seekers should be encouraged to consult with their employment services providers or the digital services contact centre, as appropriate, to identify appropriate activities they are interested in, or may prefer to undertake, to meet their mutual obligation requirements. While delegates will take these things into account wherever possible, delegates of the Secretary of DESE have the final decision on what should be included in a job seeker's Job Plan.

Once the Job Plan is approved, a job seeker who fails to meet a compulsory requirement in their Job Plan may be subject to compliance action (see 3.11.13 for most job seekers or 3.11.14 for CDP participants).

Failure to enter into a Job Plan

If the job seeker refuses to enter into a Job Plan without good reason, this refusal will be reported to Services Australia and will result in compliance action. The job seeker will be required to attend a further appointment to enter into a Job Plan. If job seekers repeatedly refuse to enter a Job Plan without good reason their payment may be cancelled by Services Australia until they do enter into a Job Plan.

Types of items that can be included in a Job Plan

Each item specified in a Job Plan must be:

  • quantifiable and specific
  • measurable (i.e. it is clear when an item has been completed or not).
Example: A delegate may consider any of the following items for inclusion in a Job Plan:
  • the requirement to attend provider appointments
  • job search requirements, generally 20 per month
  • an annual activity requirement (for job seekers participating in jobactive)
  • the requirement to act on referrals to specific job opportunities which may be given by the employment services provider
  • the requirement to undertake part-time work
  • participation in approved activities, including
    • Work for the Dole
    • work experience (including the National Work Experience Programme for eligible participants)
    • Career Transition Assistance
    • NEIS training
    • PaTH Internships
    • voluntary work
    • activities designed to develop job search and job interview skills or soft skills needed in the workplace
    • Skills for Education and Employment Program
    • Adult Migrant English Program
    • Defence Force Reserves
    • participation in a non-vocational (e.g. rehabilitation) program
    • a course of education or training
    • other activities designed to eliminate or reduce any disadvantage the person has in the labour market.

The Job Plan will need to be reviewed when circumstances change, and can be reviewed at any time by the delegate or Services Australia.

Types of requirements that a Job Plan must not contain

A Job Plan must not contain a requirement that is specified in Social Security (Employment Pathway Plan Requirements) Determination 2015. Currently this determination states that a Job Plan must not contain a requirement for a person to:

  • participate or otherwise be involved in a criminal activity
  • involuntarily undergo medical, psychiatric or psychological treatment
  • undertake an activity outside of Australia
  • seek work in or be involved in the sex or adult entertainment industry
  • undertake or seek to undertake an activity that would contravene Commonwealth, state or territory laws relating to discrimination or occupational health and safety
  • undertake or seek to undertake an activity that would aggravate an existing illness, disability or injury, or
  • undertake or seek to undertake an activity that does not provide appropriate support or facilities to take account of a person's illness, disability or injury.

A Job Plan must also not contain:

  • irrelevant information, such as detailed personal medical information or details of medical conditions and medications
  • information pertaining to the job seekers' day-to-day lives as a compulsory item, such as getting their child to school or assisting with homework
  • participation in WFD (or other approved programs of work) as a compulsory activity for job seekers receiving less than the full rate of income support, where the rate is reduced due to the income test (either due to the job seeker's income or their partner's). However, WFD (or other approved programs of work) can be included in the Job Plan as a voluntary term, or
  • participation in WFD as either a compulsory or voluntary activity for job seekers under the age of 18.

There are additional limitations for principal carer parents, those with a partial capacity to work, or aged 55 and over who are fully meeting their mutual obligations. See 3.11.6 for more detail.

Total hours of all requirements in a Job Plan

In addition to each individual term of a Job Plan being appropriate, the total hours of all requirements of a Job Plan must also be appropriate. This means that all of the requirements of a job seeker's Job Plan taken together must be achievable, and consistent with policy and legislation.

As a safeguard, Job Plans for those job seekers subject to the targeted compliance framework (3.11.13) are considered inappropriate if they contain total hours of activity greater than the below (not including job search, provider or third party appointments or job interviews):

Age Full time - maximum total activity hours per fortnight Principal carer parent/partial capacity to work - maximum total activity hours per fortnight
Up to 49 75 61
50 to 59 61 51
60+ 41 41

For clarity, a Job Plan should be tailored to the job seeker's individual circumstances. A Job Plan may also be inappropriate where it contains total hours that are fewer than those specified above if it is inconsistent with policy or legislation, for example, because it includes a requirement the job seeker does not have the capacity to meet. The above total number of hours are maximum limits (well above the AAR hours) and so also not intended as a prescriptive guideline on how many total hours of activities should be included in a Job Plan. Total hours of activities should be determined on an individual basis.

When a Job Plan is not required

Job seekers are not required to enter into a Job Plan, or comply with the terms of a Job Plan, when exempt from their mutual obligation requirements (3.11.5).

Act reference: SSAct section 593 Qualification for JSP, section 606 JSP Employment Pathway Plans-terms, section 607 JSP Employment Pathway Plans-principal carer parents, section 607A JSP Employment Pathway Plans-People with partial capacity to work, section 607B JSP Employment Pathway Plans-requirement to participate in an approved program of work, section 603 Relief from Activity Test-General (JSP), section 540 Qualification for YA-general rule, Section 544B YA Employment Pathway Plans-terms, section 544DA YA Employment Pathway Plans-early school leavers, section 544E YA Employment Pathway Plans-suspension of plans for people with certain exemptions, section 500 Qualification for PP, section 501A PP Employment Pathway Plan-terms, section 501D PP employment pathway plans-requirement to participate in an approved program of work, section 729 Qualification for SpB, section 731M SpB employment pathway plan-terms, section 731N SpB employment pathway plans principal carer parents, section 731P SpB employment pathway plans-people with a partial capacity to work, section 731Q SpB employment pathway plans-revocation of requirement to participate in approved program of work

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.11.5 Exemptions - overview, Suitable work, 3.11.3 Suitable activities

Last reviewed: 8 February 2021