The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia.

1.1.G.20 Gainful work (PBS)


For the purposes of PBS, gainful work is work performed for financial gain or reward. The work must involve the member being engaged in some form of gainful activity for financial reward rather than contrived situations.

A member is NOT considered to be engaged in gainful work if they are:

  • managing their own, or their family's, financial investments (see explanation and example)
  • performing domestic duties at their, or their partners' place of residence, or
  • engaged in any form of voluntary work.

Explanation: This is considered an activity performed throughout a person's life time.

Example: Management of a family company and family trusts.

There may be situations where a member appears to have contrived their circumstances through artificial structures, with a view to circumventing the requirement to perform gainful work during deferment. In these cases the work would not meet the definition of gainful work and the member would not be able to use this work to pass the work test.

Example: Multiple layers of family companies/trusts.

Act reference: SSAct section 92X Gainful work-basic rule, section 92Y Secretary's discretion to treat activity as gainful work, section 92Z Irregular, infrequent and minor absences from a workplace count as gainful work, section 93 Management of family financial investments does not count as gainful work, section 93A Domestic duties in relation to a person's place of residence do not count as gainful work

Policy reference: SS Guide Gainful work for PBS

Last reviewed: