3.11.6 Fully meeting requirements
Recognising their unique circumstances, some cohorts of job seekers are able to choose to meet their requirements by looking for work and by also either undertaking activities negotiated with their employment services provider, or undertaking a specified number of hours of paid work (or voluntary work, in some cases). These cohorts are principal carer job seekers, those aged 55 and over or those with an assessed partial capacity to work. In all cases outlined below, paid work must meet the sufficient work test in order for it to fully meet the job seeker's requirements (1.1.S.403). All job seekers in jobactive, online employment services or the new employment services trial are also able to fully meet their requirements in some circumstances through participation in a combination of paid work and study or training.
A job seeker who is fully meeting their requirements does not have to look for work or participate in any additional activities. However, all participation payment recipients - even those who are described as 'fully meeting' their requirements, must be prepared to accept any offer of suitable work unless they have a reasonable excuse for not doing so. Where the job seeker is fully meeting their requirements through part‑time paid work or study, they have a reasonable excuse for not accepting work that conflicts with those activities. Job seekers who are fully meeting their requirements must also be prepared to report on their activities as required, and in some circumstances they must remain connected to an employment services provider.
Where more than one method of fully meeting requirements is available to a job seeker (e.g. they are a principal carer parent and also mature aged) then they fully meet their requirements if they satisfy the criteria for either cohort.
Under social security legislation, depending on their age and how long they have been receiving payment for, job seekers aged 55 years and over may choose to satisfy their mutual obligation requirements through approved voluntary work, suitable paid work (including self-employment), or a combination of these activities.
In their first 12 months on payment, job seekers aged 55 to 59 can generally satisfy their mutual obligation requirements through 30 hours per fortnight of paid work, or a combination of approved voluntary work and at least 15 hours of 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 or any combination of these activities.
Regardless of their duration on payment, job seekers aged 60 and over as well as PP recipients (aged 55 and over) 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 a combination of the 2.
Even though job seekers aged 55 years and over who are satisfying their requirements through undertaking voluntary work or a combination of voluntary and paid work do not have job search or other requirements, they must still be available for additional suitable paid work and must accept all referrals to job interviews that do not interfere with their existing paid work.
In instances where job seekers aged 55 years and over have confirmed their engagement in voluntary work but have not yet commenced, the job seeker still has a requirement to participate in compulsory activities with their employment services provider until they commence the voluntary work.
Mature age principal carer parents (i.e. those who are aged 55 and over) whose hours drop below 30 hours in the fortnight with a reasonable excuse will be given 2 further consecutive fortnights to increase their hours back above the 30 hours per fortnight threshold. If they do not restore their hours within these 2 further consecutive fortnights, they will be considered to no longer be fully meeting their requirements.
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 3 months, 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
Principal carer parents & those with an assessed partial capacity to work
Principal carer parents (1.1.P.412) and job seekers with an assessed partial capacity to work (1.1.P.65) are able to fully meet their requirements through 30 hours per fortnight of paid work, study (where the 30 hours of study includes both contact and non-contact hours), or a combination of paid work and study totaling at least 30 hours per fortnight. Principal carer parents receiving PES, and undertaking full-time study, are also taken to be fully meeting their requirements.
Where principal carer parents have shared care of children and work irregular hours over a fortnight (e.g. they may work 30 hours one week and no hours the next), mutual obligation requirements are considered to have been met where the job seeker works sufficient hours - during both their care and non-care days/weeks - to meet their mutual obligation requirements over a 4-week period.
Where these job seekers are fully meeting their requirements through paid work and/or study, they cannot be required to undertake any job search or participate in any additional activities, and they do not need to be connected to an employment services provider.
In some circumstances principal carer parents can also satisfy their mutual obligation requirements by undertaking voluntary work either by itself or in combination with approved study or paid work for a combined total of at least 30 hours per fortnight. Principal carer parents can only use voluntary work to fully meet their part-time mutual obligation requirements if the particular voluntary work is approved by a delegate. Delegates can only approve voluntary work for a principal carer parent job seeker if ALL the following conditions are met, in addition to the general voluntary work approval requirements (22.214.171.124):
- the principal carer parent lives in a poor labour market, and
- there are limited training opportunities locally available, and
- there is a significant vocational aspect to the voluntary work, and
- the organisation is an approved voluntary organisation under Services Australia approval conditions.
Principal carer parents who are undertaking voluntary work by itself or in combination with other activities to meet their requirements must remain connected to an employment services provider.
Note: Job seekers with an assessed partial capacity to work are unable to fully meet their requirements through volunteer work, unless they are also principal carer parents or aged 55 and over.
Examples of voluntary work with a significant vocational aspect:
- library assistant
- charity shop sales assistant.
Examples of inappropriate voluntary work:
- collecting money on the street for a charity organisation
- walking dogs for an animal shelter.
To fully meet their mutual obligation requirements through sufficient participation in voluntary work, the voluntary work must be entered as a compulsory item into the principal carer parent's Job Plan.
Example 1: Daisy is a 35 year old principal carer parent who lives in a remote town in Western Australia. Daisy is currently studying a Certificate III in Teaching by correspondence. She advises her employment services provider that she would like to undertake voluntary work as a tutor at a local school in addition to her studies in order to meet her requirements. After confirming that the position does not involve tasks normally undertaken by a paid employee - and after considering Daisy's situation, the local labour market, that she is already studying to further her employment opportunities and that the voluntary work will enhance her teaching skills - her provider approves her voluntary work as part of her mutual obligation requirements. Daisy is able to fully meet her mutual obligation requirements as she undertakes 30 hours per fortnight of approved voluntary work and study combined. She is no longer required to undertake job search or other activities, but will remain connected to her provider as she is meeting her requirements partly through voluntary work. If at any point her provider refers her to a suitable paid job that fits around her study and caring responsibilities, Daisy will be required to accept the job.
Example 2: Brett is a 39 year old principal carer parent who lives in Sydney. Brett wants to undertake voluntary work of 30 hours per fortnight to satisfy his requirements. He advises his employment services provider that he would like to undertake voluntary work collecting money for a well-known charity organisation. Brett's provider conducts a review on the local labour market, training opportunities available and the vocational aspect to the voluntary work he proposes. His provider concludes that it is not appropriate to approve Brett's choice of voluntary work as Sydney has a large labour market, there are many training opportunities available and the voluntary work does not have a strong vocational focus.
Act reference: SSAct section 502A People 55 and over who are engaged in work, section 502B Persons engaged in suitable paid work for at least 30 hours per fortnight, section 541(1AA) Persons who comply with Employment Pathway Plan, section 601(4A) Activity test, section 603AA Relief from activity test-people 55 and over who are engaged in work, section 603AB Relief from activity test-certain principal carers and people with partial capacity to work, section 606 Jobseeker Employment Pathway Plan-terms, section 607 Jobseeker Employment Pathway Plans-principal carers, section 607A Jobseeker Employment Pathway Plans-people with partial capacity to work, section 607B Jobseeker Employment Pathway Plans-requirement to participate in an approved program of work, section 544B YA Employment Pathway Plans-terms, section 731A Activity test, section 731G Relief from activity test-people 55 and over who are engaged in work, section 731GA Relief from activity test-certain principal carers and people with partial capacity to work
Study or training
In addition to mechanisms discussed above, job seekers in jobactive, online employment services and the new employment services trial have no job search requirements if they are undertaking a total of 70 hours or more per fortnight of paid work and study/training in high labour demand areas (126.96.36.199). These job seekers must accept any suitable work that fits around their study and existing work commitments and remain connected with their employment services provider if they have one.