3.2.2.10 Sufficient Work

Introduction

In some circumstances, a person may be undertaking full-time work and still remain qualified for payment. The majority of recipients whose work would be considered sufficient to fully meet their mutual obligation requirements would most likely be people with a part-time mutual obligation requirement.

The decision that a person is doing sufficient work would generally be restricted to cases where a person can demonstrate a stable pattern of employment and earnings (e.g. permanent part-time work). Where there is significant variation in hours worked and earnings from fortnight to fortnight, the issue of whether a person's work fully meets their mutual obligation requirements must be determined on a fortnightly basis.

A YA recipient cannot be taken to satisfy their mutual obligation requirements if they are in full‑time paid work of at least 70 hours per fortnight or less if that lesser number constitutes full-time work in the industry in which the person is employed. A YA recipient who is involved to a substantial degree in the operation of a family business should also not be taken to satisfy their mutual obligation requirement.

Act reference: SSAct section 540 Qualification for YA-general rule, section 541(3) Activity test, section 595 Persons may be treated as unemployed

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.2.8 Mutual Obligation Requirements for NSA/YA Job Seekers, 1.1.S.403 Sufficient work test

Using the sufficient work test to determine whether mutual obligation requirements are fully satisfied

Income support recipients with mutual obligation requirements will usually have to look for work and undertake requirements which are outlined in their Job Plan or undertake work in order to satisfy their mutual obligation requirements. The minimum number of hours of work to fully meet their requirements for most job seekers with full-time mutual obligation requirements is 70 hours per fortnight. For job seekers aged 55 years and over, principal carer parents and job seekers assessed as having a partial capacity to work, the number of hours is 30 hours per fortnight.

A person will fully satisfy their mutual obligation requirements if:

  • the total hours worked is at least the minimum number required for the person, AND
  • the remuneration is at least the applicable hourly rate (usually the National Minimum Wage or applicable occupation award wage), multiplied by the minimum number of hours required for the person.

Sufficient work test & mutual obligation requirements not fully satisfied

Where a person is not undertaking sufficient work to satisfy their mutual obligation requirements, they may be required to look for or undertake additional work or other suitable activities.

Example: A person aged 55 or over may be able to use voluntary work, rather than paid work, to meet the balance of their requirements.

In these cases, the sufficient work test (1.1.S.403) is used to establish the additional hours of work required.

Application of the sufficient work test to particular groups

This section provides guidelines for applying the sufficient work test to the following groups:

  • principal carer parents,
  • job seekers 55 years and over,
  • self-employed, and
  • person on leave.

Principal carer parents

Principal carer parents on PP, NSA, SpB or YA (job seeker) are subject to the same sufficient work test as other NSA, SpB and YA (job seeker) recipients with the exception that principal carer parents are required to undertake at least 30 hours per fortnight of appropriately remunerated work to satisfy the activity test. Where a principal carer parent does not satisfy the sufficient work test, the person will generally be required to participate in one or a combination of approved activities to make up the balance.

Where a principal carer parent is undertaking one or a combination of approved activities such as suitable paid work, approved study (where the total number of hours includes contact and non-contact hours) and in some circumstances voluntary work of less than 30 hours per fortnight, they will need to undertake or look for sufficient work of at least the number of hours required to make up the balance.

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.2.8.60 Unsuitable Work, 1.1.D.70 Dependent child

Job seekers 55 years & over

Job seekers aged 55 years and over may be able to satisfy the activity test by undertaking sufficient work, approved voluntary work, or a combination of these for at least 30 hours per fortnight. The job seeker's age and the duration they have been on payment will determine the appropriate arrangements for them to satisfy the activity test in this way (3.2.8.10).

Where a person aged 55 and over is not satisfying the activity test through arrangements as outlined in 3.2.8.10, they will need to undertake or look for sufficient work of at least the number of hours required to make up the balance of 30 hours per fortnight of voluntary and/or paid work.

Self-employed

The conditions for satisfying the sufficient work test also apply to self-employment. Self-employment will fully satisfy mutual obligation requirements if the person 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.

Where the self-employment does not satisfy the sufficient work test, the person will generally be required to look for alternative work. 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 section 595 and will not satisfy their mutual obligation requirements.

Person on leave

For the purposes of the sufficient work test, a person on leave will be regarded as working for the number of hours suggested by their leave payment rate. A person on full-pay leave will therefore be regarded as continuing to work their normal hours. A person on half-pay leave will be regarded as working half their normal hours, and a person on leave without pay will not be regarded as working.

The number of hours this approach produces is then compared to the number of hours the person is required to work to satisfy their activity test requirements.

Example 1: Petra is a principal carer parent working 30 hours a week at the National Minimum Wage rate and therefore fully satisfies the sufficient work test. She takes leave for 2 weeks at half-pay. This is regarded as being equivalent to 15 hours work a week at the National Minimum Wage rate, which will still satisfy her sufficient work test. This is because Petra is a principal carer parent and may work 15 hours a week at the National Minimum Wage rate to satisfy the activity test.

Example 2: Lucy has a partial capacity for work and is currently working 20 hours a week at the National Minimum Wage rate. This fully satisfies the sufficient work test. She takes full-pay leave for 4 weeks. She is regarded as still working for 20 hours a week during this period and therefore fully satisfies the sufficient work test.

Example 3: Frank is a principal carer parent working 15 hours a week at the National Minimum Wage. This fully satisfies the sufficient work test. He takes half-pay leave for 2 weeks. This is regarded as being equivalent to 7.5 hours work a week. He will not satisfy the sufficient work test during this period, and therefore will not satisfy the activity test. He will have to undertake other activities (e.g. job search) to remain qualified for payment during this period.

Sufficient work for ministers of religion who are principal carer parents or assessed as having a partial capacity to work

Ministers of religion receiving PP, NSA, YA (job seeker) or SpB who are either a principal carer parent or a person assessed as having a partial capacity to work will be subject to part-time mutual obligation requirements.

They can satisfy their part-time requirements by undertaking at least 15 hours of paid pastoral work a week for their religious organisation. The amount of remuneration received does not have to be at the National Minimum Wage. They will be required to show evidence (e.g. a letter from their religious organisation) that they are working at least 15 paid hours per week as a minister for a religious organisation on an annual basis to continue to access this concessional treatment.

Last reviewed: 20 September 2018