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. Compliance failures & penalties - general rules


This section concerns information on general rules around compliance failures and penalties under the compliance arrangements set out in SS(Admin)Act Part 3 Division 3A. These arrangements only apply to job seekers on participation payments who are declared program participants (i.e. CDP participants) under the Social Security (Declared Program Participant) Determination 2018.

Multiple failures

A job seeker can only be subject to 1 penalty on a particular day. However, a job seeker may commit multiple failures within an instalment (or payment) period. For example, a job seeker may fail to attend a job interview in the first week of their instalment period, which is a NSNP failure, and miss a scheduled and then a rescheduled appointment with their provider in the second week, which would put them in a reconnection failure period. A job seeker may also commit multiple failures in relation to the same activity.

Example: If a job seeker misses 3 consecutive days of an activity, they may incur 3 NSNP failures if they do not have a reasonable excuse for any of the 3 days.

During a reconnection failure period, a job seeker cannot incur a connection failure or a NSNP failure. However, they can have their payment suspended and can incur a reconnection failure by failing to meet a further reconnection requirement.

During a serious failure period, a job seeker cannot incur a connection failure, a NSNP failure, a reconnection failure or another serious failure (noting that a serious failure period ends on commencement of a compliance activity and a job seeker again becomes subject to all failure types). An unemployment non-payment period may be incurred during a serious failure period (with the 2 non-payment periods running concurrently where they overlap).

Example: A job seeker incurs a serious failure and allowance is not payable for 8 weeks. The job seeker chooses not to undertake a compliance activity, but 3 weeks after the start of the serious failure period they commence employment, which they voluntarily leave a week later without good reason. At the end of their serious failure period they reapply for payment. The job seeker must serve an 8 week unemployment non-payment period. As this commences from the date of unemployment, 4 weeks of the non-payment period have already been served concurrently with the serious failure period. The job seeker therefore has 4 weeks of the unemployment non-payment period left to serve.

During an unemployment non-payment period, only another unemployment non-payment period may be applied (with the 2 non-payment periods running concurrently where they overlap).

Inability to recover an outstanding penalty amount due to a person not being in receipt of a participation payment

Where a person who has an unrecovered penalty amount cancels their participation payment or transfers to a different payment type, the penalty amount will be maintained for a period of 26 weeks pending a return to a participation payment. Where the person is still not in receipt of a participation payment after 26 weeks the outstanding penalty is fully and permanently waived. Where a person recommences a participation payment within the 26 week period, but once again cancels before it can be fully recovered, the 26 week period will begin again.

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