SpB Job Plans


All SpB nominated visa holders, without an exemption from mutual obligation requirements, will enter into an SpB Job Plan. The agreement helps them to understand what they will need to do to meet their mutual obligation requirements and the help DHS will give them to enter into the workforce.

Job seekers can suggest activities that they may like to undertake. However, the delegate, in accordance with these guidelines, will determine if the activities are suitable and whether they will be included in the person's Job Plan. A job seeker who refuses to undertake an appropriate activity proposed by the delegate may have their payment stopped or suspended.

The types of activities that can be specified in the Job Plan are the same as for NSA/YA/PPS job seekers as relevant to the person's age and family circumstances.

Policy reference: SS Guide Non-compliance with SpB mutual obligation requirements, Study for SpB Recipients, What Should Not be Included in a Job Plan, What can be included in a Job Plan, Job Search - Setting Job Search Requirements - General

No WFD for those aged 60+

An SpB recipient who is aged 60 years or over CANNOT be required to participate in WFD. However, a WFD activity may be included as a voluntary item in the job seeker's Job Plan.

Act reference: SSAct section 731A(8) Activity test

SpB Job Plan - ascertaining capacity to comply

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

  • individual circumstances, in particular their assessed work capacity (where relevant), their capacity to comply with requirements and their personal needs,
  • education, experience, age, and skill level likely to impede job search,
  • the impact of any disability, illness, mental condition or physical condition of the person or the person's ability to work, to look for work or to participate in activities,
  • the state of the local labour market and the transport options available to the person in accessing the market (e.g. taking in account travel time),
  • the participation opportunities available to the person,
  • education or skill level where this is likely to limit job opportunities,
  • the family and caring responsibilities of the person (including availability of child care),
  • the financial costs (such as travel) of compliance with the requirements, and the person's capacity to pay for such costs,
  • 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 history of the job seeker not complying with their mutual obligation requirements,
  • the person's accommodation situation, and any other relevant circumstances that may affect a person's ability to participate and comply.

A person must be reasonably capable of complying with any item included in their Job Plan. If a person is not capable of undertaking any requirement (or a combination of activities), then that activity (or combination of activities) cannot be included in their Job Plan.

Examples: An activity should not be included in a job seeker's Job Plan if:

  • they do not have the educational or physical capacity to undertake the activity,
  • it would involve travel of more than 90 minutes each way by the transport normally available to the person or more than 60 minutes for principal carers and people assessed as having a partial capacity to work,
  • it would mean that they were unable to meet their family or caring responsibilities (and it would be unreasonable for them to make alternative arrangements),
  • the financial costs (such as the travel costs) of complying with the requirements exceed the job seeker's capacity to pay,
  • it would require them to participate for more hours than their assessed work capacity, or
  • they were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and it would be unreasonable to expect them to comply because of their accommodation situation.

Act reference: SSAct section 731M(5) SpB Job Plans-terms

Suitable work opportunities

As with other job seekers, SpB recipients should not restrict their job search to their traditional occupations or work that they would prefer to do, they should seek and accept any suitable employment. For example, suitable work for people with little or no spoken English is employment that does not require vocational English. Recipients are not expected to look for or accept unsuitable work.

If the job seeker is the principal carer of one or more dependent children, consideration of what is suitable work includes the availability of appropriate child care or supervision for the child as well as travel time and the costs of participating in paid work.

Act reference: SSAct section 731B Meaning of unsuitable work for the purposes of the activity test

Guidelines for determining suitable activities for principal carers & people assessed with a partial capacity to work

Specific rules apply for determining suitable Job Plan terms for recipients who are classified under SSAct section 16B as having a partial capacity to work because of a physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment or under SSAct section 5 as a principal carer of a child.

Act reference: SSAct section 16B Partial capacity to work, section 5 Family relationships definitions-children

Suitable activities for principal carer parents

Principal carer parents on SpB with a youngest child aged 6 years or over are subject to obligation to seek part-time work of at least 15 hours per week (unless they are exempted from their mutual obligation requirements during a specified period).

Principal carer parents will generally meet their mutual obligation requirements by:

  • looking for suitable part-time paid work of at least 15 hours duration per week, AND
  • undertaking the activities agreed to in their Job Plan.

A principal carer parent will fully satisfy their mutual obligation requirements through 30 hours per fortnight of suitable part-time paid work, approved study, or a combination of these activities. In some circumstances, principal carers can also fully meet their mutual obligation requirements through approved voluntary work, as outlined in

Suitable work for principal carer parents

Suitable work for principal carers includes work that the person is capable of doing taking into account the person's caring responsibilities and access to appropriate child care. For more information on suitable work for principal carers, see

Suitable activities for people assessed with a partial capacity to work

For a person assessed as having a partial capacity to work, the activities recommended by the job capacity assessor or ESAt assessor will be the most suitable for inclusion in their Job Plan. However, job seekers can still suggest activities that they would like to have included.

A person assessed as having a partial capacity to work, should not have an item included in their Job Plan if it would:

  • involve travel of more than 60 minutes each way by the transport normally available to the person. Determinations as to whether the travel time is reasonable should consider all forms of transport available and accessible to the person,
  • aggravate the person's illness, injury or disability,
  • inhibit the promotion in the community of a positive image of persons with a disability or would diminish the person's self esteem,
  • result in unreasonable costs to the person. Determinations as to whether the activity would result in unreasonable costs should consider all costs incurred as a direct result of participation in the activity, including travel, personal care and any adaptive equipment where the direct cost is incurred by the job seeker.

Example: A person in a wheel chair cannot have an activity included in their Job Plan if the activity is held in a venue which does not have accessible toilets.

Mature age recipients (55 years or over)

Job seekers who are 55 or more years of age (regardless of whether they are also principal carer parents or people with partial capacity) may fully meet their mutual obligation requirements if they undertake 30 or more hours of voluntary work, or a combination of voluntary and paid work in a fortnight. The ways in which these job seekers can fully meet their requirements through these activities will depend on the age of the job seeker and the duration they are on income support. See and If their hours drop below 30 hours in the fortnight with a reasonable excuse, they 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. They will be required to undertake additional activities.

Monitoring SpB Job Plan

Recipients with an SpB Job Plan who have undertaken and completed an item need to have their Job Plan reviewed.

A 'completed' item is an activity which:

  • has been fully completed by the recipient, OR
  • the recipient has ceased to attend, but has not done this because of an exemption from their mutual obligation requirements, OR
  • has ceased for reasons outside the recipient's control.

When should the review take place?

Job Plans may be reviewed at any time at the request of either the person or a delegate of the Secretary.

DHS should contact the recipient to arrange an interview within 7 days of becoming aware that the recipient has ceased the activity and the review should be completed within one month of this date.

A review is to be undertaken each time a recipient completes an activity, regardless of the length of time within the activity. If the recipient undertakes more than one activity concurrently, they should have their SpB Job Plan reviewed at the completion of the 'last' of these activities.

What should occur at the SpB EPP interview?

All recipients completing an activity should be interviewed.

At the interview, the DHS officer should:

  • investigate whether all barriers to employment have been addressed,
  • investigate whether the recipient's circumstances have changed since the last review,
  • assess whether further intervention would improve the recipient's work skills or capabilities,
  • discuss what the recipient's perception is of his/her ability (if the recipient's perception of his/her ability is unjustifiably poor, further intervention may be necessary),
    • Example: A referral to the psychologist may be useful.
  • discuss with the recipient other options in terms of further activities they could undertake to improve employment prospects, and
  • consider whether the existing SpB Job Plan remains relevant. Where it is not, negotiate a new, more appropriate, agreement.

When is an SpB Job Plan not required?

People who do NOT require a review after completing an activity are:

  • recipients who have, on completion of their activity, been granted an exemption from their mutual obligation requirements, OR
  • recipients who have had a follow-up SpB Job Plan review within the previous 3 months.

Varying the terms of an SpB Job Plan

An SpB recipient may vary the terms of their agreement within 14 days of it being approved if they have the Secretary's approval. The Secretary must then advise the person, in writing, of the effect of their variation.

Requesting a review of an SpB Job Plan

An SpB recipient may request a review of their Job Plan at any time.

Last reviewed: 20 September 2018