When is a Job Plan required? (PP)

Setting the terms of a Job Plan

A PP recipient with mutual obligation requirements must enter into a Job Plan to remain qualified to receive payment. Generally, a PP recipient will have mutual obligation requirements once their youngest child turns 6.

In setting the terms of a PP recipient's Job Plan, the delegate must consider:

  • the person's individual circumstances, in particular their assessed work capacity (where relevant), their capacity to comply with requirements and their personal needs
  • the person's education, experience, skills and age
  • the state of the labour market and the transport options available to the person in accessing that market
  • the family and caring responsibilities of the person (including availability of child care)
  • the financial costs (such as travel costs) of complying with the requirements, and the person's capacity to pay for such costs
  • the length of travel time required to comply with mutual obligation requirements (60 minutes each way)
  • any history of the job seeker not complying with their requirements
  • cultural factors
  • if the job seeker has any Vulnerability Indicators (as identified by DHS) such as homelessness, psychiatric problems or mental illness, severe drug or alcohol dependency, traumatic relationship breakdown, etc.
  • any other relevant circumstances that may affect a person's ability to participate and comply (including, if they disclose that they are a victim of family violence).

Mandatory part-time mutual obligation requirements (formalised through a Job Plan (1.1.J.25)) apply to PP recipients who:

  • have a youngest child aged 6 or over, AND
  • have not been exempted from their mutual obligation requirements.

Note: PP recipients can be required to participate in ParentsNext when their youngest child is younger than 6, and are required to enter a participation plan (which is also an EPP under social security law). For participation requirements for ParentsNext participants, see

If a PP recipient is already subject to part-time mutual obligation requirements but has an additional PP child, then the mandatory requirements would not apply until this new youngest child turns 6. In the event that a Job Plan was in operation when the new PP child comes into the person's care (e.g. a new child is born), the existing Job Plan will cease, and a new Job Plan will not be required until the youngest child turns 6.

Act reference: SSAct section 501 PP Employment pathway plans

Policy reference: SS Guide 1.1.P.340 PP child (PP), Suitable Activity - Job Search (PP Recipients & Principal Carers), Mutual obligation requirements exemption in special family circumstances - overview (PP)

Approved activities for inclusion in a Job Plan (PP)

A Job Plan records those activities that PP recipients are required to undertake to satisfy their part-time mutual obligation requirements.

A PP recipient can satisfy their mutual obligation requirements if they are looking for suitable paid work, and participating in other activities as specified in their Job Plan.

A PP recipient can also choose to fully meet their part-time mutual obligation requirements by undertaking 30 hours per fortnight of suitable paid work. DES and jobactive participants can also fully meet their requirements through approved study (where the total number of hours includes contact and non-contact hours) and in some circumstances voluntary work (or a combination of these activities). If the PP recipient is not fully meeting their requirements in this way, they will generally be required to look for suitable work and undertake other suitable activities until their requirements are met.

Other suitable activities include:

  • Work for the Dole
  • National Work Experience Programme
  • accredited language, literacy and numeracy courses, such as
    • Skills for Education and Employment
    • Adult Migrant English Program
  • Defence Force Reserves
  • other government programs, including state government programs.

Principal carer job seekers who are meeting their mutual obligation requirements through paid work (or, where applicable, study or a combination of paid work and study) for a total of at least 30 hours per fortnight are not required to remain connected to their employment service provider or accept any offers of suitable paid work.

Principal carers who are undertaking approved study as part of their mutual obligation requirements, will be required to accept any suitable paid work that fits around any study that is included as a compulsory item in their Job Plan, and is appropriate in respect of their caring responsibilities.

Principal carers who are undertaking voluntary work by itself or in combination with other suitable activities to meet their mutual obligation requirements must remain connected to an employment services provider.

Example: Paid work
Kate is a principal carer parent receiving PPS and her youngest child has just turned 6. As such she now has part-time mutual obligation requirements that she must meet to continue receiving her PP. The activities Kate decides to do to meet her requirements must be set out in her Job Plan. As Kate is employed with a school working 18 hours per week on a permanent basis, this is included in her Job Plan. Since Kate is participating in paid work for more than 30 hours per fortnight and her position is permanent, she is considered to be fully meeting her mutual obligation requirements and is not required to satisfy any other requirements.

Example: Combining study and work
Bill is a single parent receiving PPS and his youngest child has just turned 6. When his child was still 5 and Bill did not have any mutual obligation requirements, he started studying a BA in Psychology through an online university. Bill studies for about 12 hours per week (these are non-contact hours as the course is conducted online). As Bill's child has turned 6 he now has mutual obligation requirements, and his provider must enter any activities Bill is to participate in to meet his mutual obligation requirements as compulsory items in his Job Plan. Since Bill was receiving PP when he started his degree he is able to continue studying the same course until he finishes. Bill's provider enters the approved study as an activity in Bill's Job Plan. As this amount of study does not fully satisfy his requirements, Bill also decides to look for a part-time job, his provider enters job search in his Job Plan as an activity and Bill remains connected with an employment services provider while he looks for suitable work that will fit in with his study and caring responsibilities. Three months later he finds regular employment in a café, for 4 hours one afternoon a week. As this position is regular and he is now fully meeting his mutual obligation requirements through 12 hours of study and 4 hours of employment each week, Bill can choose to be exited from his employment services provider.

Example: Voluntary work
Kieran is a single dad with 3 children who receives PPS. As his youngest child just turned 6 Kieran is required to enter into a Job Plan in order to meet his mutual obligation requirements. Kieran discusses his options with his employment services provider. They both agree that due to the poor labour market and lack of training opportunities where Kieran lives, voluntary work might be the best option. Kieran's provider helps him find some voluntary work that has a vocational aspect to it, with an approved voluntary organisation. Kieran does 15 hours of voluntary work with the organisation each week and this is included as a compulsory item in his Job Plan. Although Kieran is meeting his mutual obligation requirements he must remain connected with his employment services provider, attend any job interviews and accept any suitable job offers that fit around his caring responsibilities.

Example: Combining study, paid work and voluntary work
Norma has 2 children and the youngest has just turned 6, she receives PP and is required to enter into a Job Plan in order to meet her mutual obligation requirements. Norma already has a job where she works 10 hours per fortnight, this is entered into her Job Plan. Norma also decides to undertake study to broaden her future employment prospects. Norma and her provider decide on an approved course consisting of 8 hours contact each fortnight. As Norma's course also requires a few additional hours of home study each week Norma's provider increases the hours Norma spends studying in her Job Plan to 12 hours per fortnight. Norma is still not fully meeting her requirements through these activities so Norma and her provider decide that Norma will also undertake some voluntary work for 10 hours per fortnight. This is added to Norma's Job Plan. Assuming Norma meets the limited circumstances for which voluntary work might be considered. Norma is now meeting her mutual obligation requirements; and whilst Norma is not required to undertake job search, she is still required to stay connected with her provider, attend any interviews and accept any suitable jobs that fit around her study schedule and her caring responsibilities.

Act reference: SSAct section 501 PP Employment pathway plans, section 501A PP Employment pathway plan - terms

Policy reference: SS Guide Suitable Activity - Job Search (PP Recipients & Principal Carers), Suitable activity - study (PP), Other suitable activities (PP recipients & principal carers), Suitable Work (PP Recipients & Principal Carers)

Job Plans not required for PP recipients who are age pension age

PP recipients who are age pension age (1.1.P.129) are not required to enter into or comply with a Job Plan. These recipients do not have to be connected to an employment services provider, although they may volunteer to do so. This applies regardless of the age of the recipient's youngest dependent child. This is consistent with the policy approach for age pensioners who do not have compulsory mutual obligation requirements.

Policy reference: SS Guide 1.1.P.129 Pension age (Age)

Job Plans not required for PP recipients who have been granted an exemption

Job seekers granted an exemption from their mutual obligation requirements are not required to enter into a Job Plan for the period they are exempt. Job seekers already entered into a Job Plan will not be required to comply with the terms of their Job Plan during the period of the exemption.

Act reference: SSAct section 501A PP Employment pathway plan - terms, section 502C Domestic violence etc, section 502D People with disabled children …, section 502E Training camps, section 502F Special circumstances, section 502G Pre-natal and post-natal relief, section 502H Temporary incapacity

Policy reference: SS Guide Mutual obligation requirements exemption in special family circumstances - overview (PP)

Contacts to discuss Job Plans

An interview with DHS will be held in advance of the commencement of mandatory part-time mutual obligation requirements (when the youngest child turns 6), to discuss the change in requirements. The interview will be held within a 4 month period (spanning 2 months either side) of the youngest child turning 5 years and 9 months.

In exceptional circumstances where it is not possible to interview a PP recipient within this period (e.g. the recipient is on an approved trip overseas), the interview should be (re)scheduled as close to this period as possible. In these instances, it is preferable that the date of the interview be brought forward rather than delayed.

The Job Plan will need to be reviewed when circumstances change, and can be reviewed at any time by the Secretary or the PP recipient.

Last reviewed: 1 July 2019