4.3.3.90 Seasonal Horticultural Work Income Exemption

Summary

This topic covers eligibility criteria for the seasonal horticultural work income exemption from 1 July 2017.

The seasonal horticultural work income exemption is part the Seasonal Horticultural Work program. The program will operate as a 2 year trial from 1 July 2017.

Act reference: SSAct Part 3.10 Division 1AC Seasonal horticultural work income exemption

Eligibility for seasonal horticultural work income exemption

The seasonal horticultural work income exemption is only available to people who participate in the trial as a result of being placed in qualifying seasonal horticultural work under the Seasonal Horticultural Work program.

The Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, through employment services providers including jobactive, Transition to Work (TtW) and DES, are responsible for deciding who will be placed on the trial and for notifying DHS of the recipient's participation in the trial. The number of participants will be capped in each of the 2017-18 and 2018-19 financial years.

Only NSA and YA job seeker recipients who have been receiving those payments, or a combination of those payments, continuously for at least 3 months will be accepted as participants in the trial.

Note: A period during which a person did not receive NSA or YA (as a jobseeker) while they are in an employment income nil rate period counts towards the period of 3 months continuous receipt.

Eligible NSA and YA job seeker recipients may be able to participate in the trial in each of the 2017-18 and 2018-19 financial years. Participation in the trial in 2017-18 does not mean automatic acceptance as a participant again in 2018-19.

Act reference: SSAct 1073K(1) Seasonal horticultural work income exemption, 1073K(5) Qualifying payments

Policy reference: SS Guide 1.1.Y.20 Youth allowance job seeker

Income that is exempt

Under the seasonal horticultural work income exemption, the first $5,000 earned by participants in the trial from qualifying seasonal horticultural work in the 12 months after they join the trial is not counted as income for social security purposes. Any part of the $5,000 exemption amount that is unused after the 12 months will expire.

People who have not been accepted as a participant in the trial are NOT eligible for the seasonal horticultural work income exemption.

Where an eligible trial participant has employment income from other types of work as well as from qualifying seasonal horticultural work, only the employment income from qualifying seasonal horticultural work is subject to the exemption.

If an eligible trial participant in the first year of the trial (2017-18) is also accepted as an eligible trial participant in the second year of the trial (2018-19), any unused balance of the $5,000 seasonal horticultural work income exemption for the first year of the trial year will expire on the day the person is accepted as an eligible trial participant in the second year of the trial.

Participants in the second year of the trial (2018-19) will have access to the $5,000 seasonal horticultural work income exemption for up to 12 months from when they enter the trial in the second year. As such, it is possible that the $5,000 seasonal horticultural work income exemption could apply until 30 June 2020, even though the trial otherwise ends on 30 June 2019.

Act reference: SSAct 1073K(2) Seasonal horticultural work income exemption

Notification obligations

Eligible trial participants are required to report earnings from qualifying seasonal horticultural work, even if the earnings will not be counted as income for social security purposes.

Qualifying seasonal horticultural work

Qualifying seasonal horticultural work is defined as work that includes one or more of the following activities:

  • harvesting of harvest crops,
  • pruning and trimming vines and fruit trees,
  • thinning and trimming flowers,
  • chipping and weeding,
  • operating harvesting equipment,
  • planting,
  • irrigating,
  • siloing,
  • packing and canning,
  • any other like activities, as specified in any Guidelines.

Harvest crops is defined as all vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, hops, nuts, fungi, olives, flowers, broad acre crops, sugar and sandalwood.

Act reference: SSAct 1073K(6) Qualifying seasonal horticultural work

Effect of exemption for partners

If earnings from qualifying seasonal horticultural work are not counted as income for social security purposes for an eligible trial participant because of the seasonal horticultural work income exemption, then they will also not be counted as income for any social security or Veterans Affairs' income support payment received by a partner of the participant.

Act reference: SSAct section 1073K(3) If an amount of ordinary income is disregarded…

Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 section 5H(8)(hf) an amount of ordinary income…

Effect on working credit

Earnings from qualifying seasonal horticultural work that are not counted as income for social security purposes because of the seasonal horticultural work income exemption are also not counted as employment or ordinary income for the purposes of the working credit.

Eligibility to NSA & YA during qualifying seasonal work

An eligible trial participant who is undertaking substantial hours (including full time hours) of qualifying seasonal horticultural work will continue to be qualified for NSA and YA job seeker, subject to them continuing to meet other payment qualification requirements, for as long as they are accessing the $5,000 seasonal horticultural work income exemption.

Example 1: NSA trial participants who are working substantial or full-time hours will still be considered unemployed and meeting the activity test for NSA purposes while participating in the trial and accessing the income exemption.

Example 2: Generally a YA job seeker cannot be taken to be meeting the activity test if they are working full-time or for 35 hours or more. However YA trial participants will not be subject to the maximum 35 hour work rule while participating in the trial and accessing the income exemption.

Normal qualification rules (including the requirement to be unemployed and satisfying the activity test) will apply from the first instalment period after the $5,000 is fully depleted.

Act reference: SSAct section 541(3A) Activity test, section 1073K(2) Seasonal horticultural work income exemption

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.2.1.10 Qualification for NSA, 3.2.1.70 Notification & Recipient Obligations for NSA, 3.2.3.10 Qualification for YA, 3.2.3.60 Notification & Recipient Obligations for YA

Seasonal work living away & travel allowance

A seasonal work living away and travel allowance of up to $300 a year is available from 1 July 2017 to certain eligible trial participants. The seasonal work living away and travel allowance is not counted as income for social security purposes.

More information is at 4.3.2.30.

Last reviewed: 3 July 2017