3.2.5.80 YA & DSP - Self-supporting through Paid Employment

Paid employment category - overview

A young person may be considered independent for YA purposes if:

  • they have supported themselves through paid work consisting of full-time employment of an average of 30 hours or more per week, in one or more jobs, for at least 18 months during any period of 2 years, or
  • they qualify under the paid employment criteria for students from inner regional, outer regional, remote or very remote locations.

A young person may be considered independent for DSP purposes if they have supported themselves through:

  • paid work consisting of full-time employment averaging at least 30 hours per week, in one or more jobs, for at least 18 months during any period of 2 years, OR
  • paid work of at least 15 hours per week for at least 2 years since the person last left secondary school, (see Note 1 below), OR
  • paid work within an 18 month period with cumulative earnings totalling at least 75% of the Wage Level A of the National Training Wage schedule included in a modern award (1.1.N.12) (see Note 2 below).

Note 1: In relation to the 15 hours work over 2 years criteria:

  • the person must have worked 15 hours every week over consecutive weeks for a continuous 2 year period,
  • periods of paid leave in relation to employment may be counted as paid work hours for the purpose of this criterion,
  • the 2 year period can commence any time after the person last left secondary school.

Note 2: In relation to the paid work in an 18-month period with cumulative earnings criteria:

  • the appropriate Wage Level A of the National Training Wage schedule included in a modern award is the rate that applied when the period/s of employment began,
  • a period of 18 months must have elapsed since the young person last left school,
  • the employment period/s must have occurred since the person last left school, and
  • a person does not need to be in employment for the whole 18-month period. Rather they are required to have engaged in employment at one or more times during the 18-month period, and to have accumulated the required amount of 'cumulative earnings' from this employment.

Full-time employment averaging at least 30 hours per week

A young person may be considered independent for YA and DSP purposes if they have supported themselves through paid work consisting of full-time employment averaging 30 hours or more per week, in one or more jobs, for at least 18 months during any period of 2 years.

Example: Michael worked full-time for 38 hours a week as a sales assistant for 6 months after leaving secondary study, then went overseas for a 6-month holiday. On his return, he went back to full-time work of 38 hours a week for 12 months. Michael meets the self-supporting independence criterion as he worked full-time in employment of an average of more than 30 hours per week for 18 months during the last 2 years.

The assessment under this criterion may be made in respect of one or more jobs, whether consecutive and/or concurrent.

Where a young person has been working in a job that has not consistently provided them with 30 hours per week work, their hours of work can be averaged over periods of a maximum of 13 weeks, provided that the young person can reasonably be considered to have been engaged in full-time employment over the duration of the period.

This means, for example, that a young person can be considered to meet this criterion where they have undertaken:

  • at least 120 hours of work in each of 19 periods of 4 weeks, or
  • at least 390 hours of work in each of 6 periods of 13 weeks, or
  • at least 30 hours of work in each of 78 weeks (i.e. 30 hours or more for 78 weeks).

Example: Royce, 19, left secondary school in 2009 and entered into a series of casual jobs, sometimes several at once, over the period of 65 weeks from December 2009 until March 2011. During this time, Royce had varying hours that averaged 32 hours per week. In early March 2011, he commenced full-time studies in a 2 year Diploma at TAFE and ceased all casual work as he had sufficient savings to support himself for a while. During the mid-semester break, which commenced at the end of June, Royce had the opportunity to work on a farm during harvest. Over the 6 week period between late June and early August, he worked an average of 60 hours per week. On recommencement of TAFE in August, Royce decided to work 2 evenings a week delivering pizza. His work hours totalled 11 hours per week. He continued this work for the rest of the year. In November 2011, Royce lodged a claim for YA. Royce was granted independent status because he had, overall, undertaken full-time work totalling at least 390 hours for 6 periods of 13 weeks over a 2-year duration.

Example: Rebecca, 19, left secondary school in 2010. From November 2010 until university commenced in March 2011, she worked very hard in a number of casual jobs, working an average of 80 hours per week over a 16 week period. Once university started, she ceased work in order to concentrate on her studies. In November 2011, after exams had finished, Rebecca again worked in several casual jobs over the holiday period, averaging 80 hours per week over a 16 week period. She recommenced university in March 2012. During the 2012 mid-semester break, she worked for 32 hours per week for 5 weeks doing temporary secretarial work. When university recommenced in August 2012, Rebecca sought to be assessed as an independent person for YA on the basis that she had worked a total of 2,720 hours over the 90 week period between November 2010 and August 2012, which is an average of just over 30 hours per week over that time. She does not meet the criterion for independence because the maximum period over which work hours can be averaged is 13 weeks. As Rebecca has not worked for an average of 30 hours per week for 6 periods of 13 weeks, she cannot be said to have undertaken full-time employment averaging 30 hours or more per week, in one or more jobs, for at least 18 months during any period of 2 years.

Act reference: SSAct section 1067A(10) People who are self-supporting

Inner regional, outer regional, remote & very remote students

There are concessional workforce independence criteria for students from inner regional Australia, outer regional Australia, remote Australia or very remote Australia, or Norfolk Island, who must relocate to study. Details of this criteria is at 3.2.5.85.

Paid employment

The following activities may be considered paid employment for the purposes of assessing the self-supporting criterion for independence for YA and DSP:

  • periods of paid leave,
  • periods of unpaid leave due to employer shutdown that are outside the control of the young person (e.g. mandatory Christmas shutdown),
  • periods engaged in a full-time apprenticeship or traineeship,
  • periods of overseas employment,
  • periods of receiving workers compensation while the person is able to demonstrate that they are still connected to their employment.

Act reference: SSAct section 1067A(10) People who are self-supporting

Last reviewed: 2 January 2019