Mutual Obligation Requirements Exemption - Special Circumstances (PP)


Special circumstances exemptions are based on circumstances that are UNFORESEEN or UNAVOIDABLE and cause major disruption, so that the PP recipient is unable to meet mutual obligation requirements and it would be unreasonable to expect them to do so.

The following are categories of special circumstances exemptions that may arise:

  • major personal disruption to the PP recipient's home,
  • major personal crisis,
  • affected by declared natural disaster, e.g. bushfire, flooding or cyclone,
  • jury duty,
  • being a refugee,
  • volunteering during a state or national emergency, or
  • a temporary absence from Australia.

Note: Exemptions do not apply to circumstances wholly or predominantly attributable to the PP recipient's misuse of alcohol or another drug, unless the PP recipient is a CDP participant.

Duration of exemption

The legislation allows for exemptions for the above reasons to be granted for a period of up to 13 weeks and where necessary this period can be extended. The exception is temporary absences from Australia which are for a maximum period of 6 weeks. Actual periods granted should be determined according to the individual circumstances. A guide to the suggested length of the various exemptions is contained in each category below.

Major personal disruptions

Although the legislation allows for exemptions of up to 13 weeks, an exemption period of 2 weeks would generally be appropriate for personal disruptions.

Example: The following would be considered major personal disruptions:

  • damage caused by flood, fire or earthquake (this exemption can be used when a natural disaster occurs that causes disruption to the job seeker but the occurrence of the disaster does not result in the official declaration of a natural disaster), or
  • burglary and/or vandalism.

Exemptions in such cases are limited to the time required to:

  • arrange alternative accommodation,
  • replace household items,
  • organise major repairs, and
  • organise insurance claims.

Major personal crisis

The exemption period granted for a major personal crisis is usually up to 2 weeks, but it may be extended to 4 weeks in extremely traumatic circumstances.

Example: Breakdown of marriage or equivalent relationship.

Exemptions in such cases are limited to the time required to:

  • move belongings,
  • arrange for care of children,
  • attend short-term counselling.

Note: Special family circumstance exemptions apply for PP recipients in some situations, e.g. where a member of a PP recipient's immediate family dies, where a PP recipient experiences unusually high stress associated with the break-down of a marriage-like relationship or where the PP recipient is subjected to domestic violence (

Declared natural disaster

An initial exemption period of 4 weeks will usually be granted, but exemptions can be applied for up to 13 weeks at a time.

This exemption is for job seekers affected by a declared major natural disaster where an emergency response plan has been put in place by relevant state officials. An official declaration that the area has natural disaster status must be made before the exemption can be granted. Examples of what could be declared a natural disaster are:

  • flood,
  • fire,
  • cyclone, or
  • earthquake.


In determining whether to grant an exemption for homelessness, the primary consideration should be whether a PP recipient's living circumstances are stable enough to allow them to meet their requirements. A PP recipient may not be able to do this if they are living on the streets, in a hostel or refuge or moving from house to house every 2 or 3 days. On the other hand, a PP recipient who is living or residing temporarily with relatives or friends may be able to meet their requirements.

Before granting an exemption on the grounds of homelessness, consideration should be given to the PP recipient's individual circumstances and whether it would be more appropriate to reduce job search requirements to a level that they are able to meet.

If an exemption is granted, it should be limited to the time required to arrange stable accommodation.

Jury duty

Exemptions for jury duty can be granted for up to 13 weeks, which may be extended, but not by more than 13 weeks at a time.


A refugee PP recipient is granted automatic exemption for up to 13 weeks in their first 13 weeks after arriving in Australia. This exemption cannot be extended, except where the person is undertaking the Special Preparatory Programme (SPP) part of the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP).

State or National emergency

Exemptions for volunteers PP recipients during a State or National emergencies (e.g. bush fires), can be granted for up to 13 weeks. The PP recipient should be asked to provide proof of their active involvement when they next lodge their claim for payment (SU19), such as a written statement from their rural fire service/State Emergency Service commander.

Other State or National emergencies such as floods and earthquakes may also qualify a volunteer for an exemption.

Act reference: SSAct section 502F Special circumstances

Policy reference: SS Guide When is a Job Plan required? (PP), Mutual Obligation Requirements Exemption - Temporary Incapacity (PP)

Temporary absence from Australia - PP recipient

There is a 6 week period in which the person still qualifies for PP while located outside Australia. During this time, the PP recipient is not required to meet their requirements.

This exemption can only be granted if the dependent child may still be regarded as being in the care of a person during their absence from Australia.

Act reference: SSAct section 500D PP child

Last reviewed: 2 July 2018