Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for job seekers

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Changes to mutual obligation and face-to-face servicing requirements

The Australian Government has announced changes to mutual obligation requirements for job seekers in specified employment services programs, including jobactive. Other changes will affect how job seekers in these programs, as well as participants in ParentsNext, will receive services.  

Please note these changes do not take immediate effect.

  • In early March 2021, face-to-face servicing with providers will recommence subject to local health advice and state and territory COVID-19 requirements.
  • In early April 2021, the minimum number of job searches for job seekers will rise to 15, increasing to 20 jobs per month in early July 2021

Job Seeker Participant - return to face to face servicing factsheet.

Current mutual obligation requirement arrangements remain in effect until further notice.

From the beginning of April 2021, there will be an increase in the auditing of job seekers job search quality to identify those who are submitting non-genuine or deliberately poor-quality applications in order to meet job search targets. The increase in auditing of job search effort applies to job seekers and participants in jobactive, Online Employment Services, New Employment Services Trial and Disability Employment Services.

Where it is identified that a job seeker is deliberately submitting non genuine or poor-quality applications, they can face consequences under the Targeted Compliance Framework (TCF), including payment penalties.

Further updates and program-specific information on the above changes to mutual obligation and servicing requirements will be made available shortly. The changes may not apply to all programs, for example, job search requirements do not apply to participants in the ParentsNext program.

If you are a job seeker, you may want to contact your employment service provider for further information about your current requirements.

We also have video and written resources to help you understand employment services and mutual obligation requirements.

Requirements to get your payment

Mutual obligation requirements are compulsory.

This means if you don’t meet your requirements, your payment may be put on hold or cancelled.

What type of requirements will I have?

You could have to:

  • accept a job if you’re offered one
  • attend job interviews if you’re offered or referred to one
  • apply for a set number of jobs each month, as shown on your dashboard
  • go to appointments with, or organised by, your provider
  • attend activities or training, including Work for the Dole, where it is safe to do so.

Providers and activity hosts need to have COVID-19 safe plans in place if they require you to attend appointments or activities in person.

What type of ParentsNext requirements will I have?

From early March 2021, ParentsNext participants are required to:

  • attend an initial ParentsNext appointment (generally in person) and then every three months (attendance at these subsequent appointments can be in person/phone/online)
  • negotiate and agree to a Participation Plan
  • participate in and report on having done the activities they agreed to do
  • Report to Centrelink each fortnight about any income.

Participants’ payment may be put on hold if they do not meet these requirements and do not contact their provider and re-engage. 

ParentsNext providers are required to ensure the services they provide are managed in accordance with local health advice. Your provider is also required to have a COVID-Safe Plan to ensure they have in place appropriate measures for you and your child/ren’s safety.

When receiving face-to-face servicing, you need to follow all COVID-19 related procedures set in place by your provider, in line with local health advice.

If you or your child/ren are sick, have been to a recent COVID-19 hotspot or have been told to self-isolate by health authorities you must not attend an appointment in person.

It is important that you inform your provider as soon as possible to discuss your situation and ensure your payment is not put on hold.

What do I need to do to get my payment?

The easiest way to know what to do to get your payment is to sign in to jobactive.gov.au/jobseekers and check Your tasks to do.

If you’ve never had an account before, have your CRN handy so you can link your account via myGov.

When you sign in, you could be prompted to:

  • do your Job Seeker Snapshot
  • review and agree to your Job Plan

You need a current Job Plan or Participation Plan to get or keep your payment.

Tip: We have user guides if you need a little more help.

What are mutual obligation requirements?

Mutual obligation requirements are the things you agree to do each month in return for your payment. They are listed in your Job Plan or Participation Plan.

We’ll remind you about your requirements and when they’re due:

  • in Your tasks to do on the jobactive website or Job Seeker app
  • in your Inbox on the jobactive website or Job Seeker app
  • by SMS or email.

If you have a provider, they may also contact you about your requirements.

Your compliance status

If you were getting a payment before COVID-19, you should sign in and check your Participation history. It will tell you if you have any demerits. Remember, the more demerits you have, the more likely you are to lose your payment.

Learn more

We have video and written resources to help you understand employment services, mutual obligation requirements, and what can affect your payment.

Watch: Your Dashboard 101 is a quick overview of your account and how to use it to get your payment.

Exemptions

Centrelink can give you an exemption from mutual obligation requirements in certain circumstances. If you have an exemption you have no compulsory requirements, but you still need to report your income to Centrelink.

Sole traders

Self-employed sole traders remain exempt from requirements. This will allow you to work to re-establish your business. We will contact you if your requirements change.

Who to contact

Please use phone or online services when you can. Only go into your provider’s office or a Centrelink service centre if you have no other option.

About employment services

If you have an employment services provider, they are your best first point of contact. Providers can offer support by telephone.

If you’re in Online Employment Services or the New Employment Services Trial, please contact 1800 314 677 for assistance.

If you can’t contact your provider or have general questions, call 1800 805 260. We can give you information about:

  • your jobactive website account and the Job Seeker app
  • job search effort
  • recording attendance at appointments and activities
  • payment suspensions
  • demerits.

We also publish COVID-19 coronavirus advice on our department's website.

Harvest labour

Harvest work is still available in Australia. But, you should not go directly to farms. Different rules apply depending on which state or territory you are in. Find out more at our Harvest Covid-19 information page.

About payments

JobSeeker Payment for job seekers

Contact Services Australia on your regular payment service line if you have any questions about your existing payment (including the Coronavirus Supplement), or the status of your income support application.

Call your provider if you have any questions about payment suspensions, demerits or compliance.

If you don’t have a provider, call 1800 805 260.

JobKeeper Payment for employers and sole traders

The JobKeeper Payment is administered by the Australian Tax Office (ATO). Find out more at the ATO website.

Read our COVID-19 advice for employers for more information.

About health

The Department of Health is the source of truth about Australia's response to and management of COVID-19. You should follow instructions and information posted by the department. You can also check your state's health department for more local information.

Stay safe

Avoid scams

There have been reports of scammers targeting people by SMS and email about COVID-19 testing. We send important information to you by SMS, email and also your jobactive inbox.

Tip: Get more detail about digital safety at our protect yourself online page.

Follow health guidelines

There is a lot of advice out there about COVID-19. Some of it is true, some of it is not. Remember to get your information from real and verifiable scientific sources like the Department of Health, and reputable news outlets like abc.net.au

More information

For more information and advice refer to australia.gov.au