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. Gainful work for PBS


The work performed during the period of deferment must be gainful work (1.1.G.20). This topic explains this provision.

Other activities may be treated as gainful work

The Secretary of the department may treat an activity as gainful work in situations in which the activity performed by the member appears to meet the spirit of the legislation but cannot be clearly defined as gainful work.

Example: A member engaged in a business that is temporarily running at a loss. In this case, their activity would be considered as gainful work, provided the activity did not appear to be deliberately contrived to meet the scheme's requirements.

Example: A member who has to practise for a performance such as a piano recital. The practice time would count as gainful work.

Example: A member who attends a training course or conference to maintain their qualifications or knowledge to perform their duties.

Example: A member who is, by the nature of their employment, required to perform tasks to gain employment, such as preparing tenders, which may or may not be successful. The preparation time would be counted as gainful work. This would be the case for people working as consultants.

Example: A member's time performing jury duty may be counted as gainful work.

This discretion also applies where a member of a couple (1.1.M.120) commences work after their partner dies, in order to pass the work test. In this case the work performed by the deceased partner in the current bonus period may be deemed to be the work of the survivor.

Under no circumstances can any form of voluntary work be considered as gainful work.

Act reference: SSAct section 92Y Secretary's discretion to treat activity as gainful work


Gainful work does not include periods of leave unless the leave is of an irregular, infrequent AND minor nature. For the purposes of the work test, the amount of work that would have been performed by the member during the absence would be counted.

Example: A member has a morning off for dental treatment or to attend a training course.

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