Self-employment (including through NEIS)


The conditions for satisfying the sufficient work test also apply to self-employment ( Self-employment will satisfy the sufficient work test if the job seeker is working at least their required number of hours and the taxable income of the business provides the equivalent of the national minimum wage rate for the minimum required hours. If self-employment does not satisfy the sufficient work test, the person will generally be required to look for alternative work and/or undertake additional requirements to meet their mutual obligation requirements. If their commitment to their business activities interferes with required job search or other activities, the person will usually not be considered to be unemployed under social security law and will not satisfy their mutual obligation requirements.

Principal carer parents, those with an assessed partial capacity to work, and job seekers aged 55 and over are able to fully meet their requirements (3.11.6) if they undertake at least 30 hours per fortnight of self-employment, where the income earned from self-employment is equivalent to or above 30 hours at the minimum wage.


NEIS assists eligible people to start viable small businesses. To be eligible for NEIS, a job seeker must meet all of the criteria below:

  • are at least 18 years of age at the time of commencing NEIS assistance
  • are not prohibited by law from working in Australia
  • are not an overseas visitor on a working holiday visa or an overseas student studying in Australia
  • are available to participate in NEIS training (if relevant) and work the required hours in the proposed NEIS business
  • are not an undischarged bankrupt
  • have not received NEIS assistance in the past year, and
  • are a person or persons advised to the NEIS provider by DESE in writing from time to time.

In addition, the proposed NEIS business must meet the NEIS business eligibility criteria, which are that the proposed NEIS business:

  • is either not currently operating on a commercial basis or is an eligible existing micro-business affected by COVID-19
  • has an independent business structure
  • is lawful and capable of withstanding public scrutiny
  • has been assessed as commercially viable by the NEIS provider
  • will be established, located and operated solely within Australia, and
  • will be structured so that the job seeker has and will maintain a controlling interest over the NEIS business for the duration of the job seeker's NEIS participant agreement.

Those participating in NEIS, or NEIS training, are not required to look for work.

Last reviewed: 9 August 2021