Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for job seekers

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Advice for when your mutual obligations are suspended

You can find more information here about job seeker requirements when mutual obligations are temporarily suspended. Mutual Obligation Requirement Information - jobactive JobSearch

Advice for job seekers and participants in New South Wales.

Updated 28 July 2021

The suspension of mutual obligation requirements has been further extended for New South Wales job seekers and participants Greater Sydney, Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong, and Shellharbour and will be in place until Tuesday 31 August 2021 (inclusive).

Mutual obligation requirements

During this time if you don't meet your mutual obligation requirements that are due during the temporary suspension period:

  • your payment will not go on hold
  • you will not get any financial penalties
  • you will not get any demerits.

This includes people in:

  • jobactive
  • Online Employment Services
  • Disability Employment Services
  • ParentsNext.

People in affected areas do not need to attend face-to-face appointments during lockdown but should continue to check when their requirements are due or scheduled to occur after the suspension of mutual obligation requirements ends, including Job Search Requirements.

If you are affected, we will tell you. You will get an SMS or inbox message from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. We also make regular updates on our jobactive Facebook page. If you don't hear from us or you are not sure, please ask.

Your provider and our department are here to support you. Stay in touch. We can connect you with a range of assistance, including mental health services, if you need it.

For further information, visit the New South Wales Government's COVID-19 page and the New South Wales Health’s COVID-19 page.

Advice for job seekers and participants in in Central West New South Wales affected by COVID-19 lockdowns

Last updated: 21 July 2021

Temporary suspension of mutual obligation requirements for Central West New South Wales.

From Wednesday 21 July 2021 until Tuesday 3 August 2021 inclusive, people in the Blayney, Cabonne and Orange Local Government Areas of New South Wales do not have compulsory mutual obligation requirements.

Mutual obligation requirements

During this time if you don't meet your mutual obligation requirements that are due during the temporary suspension period:

  • your payment will not go on hold
  • you will not get any financial penalties
  • you will not get any demerits.

This includes people in:

  • jobactive
  • Online Employment Services
  • Disability Employment Services
  • ParentsNext

People in affected areas do not need to attend face-to-face appointments during lockdown, but should continue to check when their requirements are due or scheduled to occur after the suspension of mutual obligation requirements ends, including Job Search Requirements.

If you are affected, we will tell you. You will get an SMS or inbox message from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. We also make regular updates on our jobactive Facebook page. If you don't hear from us or you are not sure, please ask.

Your provider and our department are here to support you. Stay in touch. We can connect you with a range of assistance, including mental health services, if you need it.

For further information, visit the New South Wales Government's COVID-19 page and the New South Wales Health’s COVID-19 page.

Advice for job seekers and participants in South Australia

Updated 20 July 2021

From Tuesday 20 July 2021 until Tuesday 3 August 2021 inclusive, people in South Australia do not have compulsory mutual obligation requirements.

During this period, no payment suspensions or financial penalties will apply for failure to meet mutual obligation requirements.

Job seekers should continue to check when their requirements are due or scheduled to occur after the temporary suspension of mutual obligation requirements ends, including Job Search requirements. Job seekers and participants that may not be able to meet their Job Search requirements, which are due after the temporary suspension of mutual obligations, should contact their provider or the Digital Services Contact Centre to discuss.

If you are directly affected by COVID-19, are required to self-isolate or care for someone required to self-isolate, you can contact Services Australia to discuss an exemption to your mutual obligation requirements.

For further information and support job seekers or participants connected with an employment services provider can contact the Employment Services National Customer Service Line on 1800 805 260 (free call from land lines, operating during standard business hours) or email nationalcustomerserviceline@dese.gov.au.

Job seekers in Online Employment Services can contact the Digital Services Contact Centre on 1800 314 677 or email digitalservices@dese.gov.au.

For further information from the Government of South Australia visit SA.GOV.AU: COVID-19 and South Australia Health visit SA Health

Advice for job seekers and participants in Victoria

Updated 20 July 2021

The suspension of mutual obligation requirements has been extended for people in Victoria and will be in place until Tuesday 3 August 2021 inclusive.

During this period, no payment suspensions or financial penalties will apply for failure to meet mutual obligation requirements.

Job seekers should continue to check when their requirements are due or scheduled to occur after the temporary suspension of mutual obligation requirements ends, including Job Search requirements. Job seekers and participants that may not be able to meet their Job Search requirements, which are due after the temporary suspension of mutual obligations, should contact their provider or the Digital Services Contact Centre to discuss.

If you are directly affected by COVID-19, are required to self-isolate or care for someone required to self-isolate, you can contact Services Australia to discuss an exemption to your mutual obligation requirements.

For further information and support job seekers or participants connected with an employment services provider can contact the Employment Services National Customer Service Line on 1800 805 260 (free call from land lines, operating during standard business hours) or email nationalcustomerserviceline@dese.gov.au.

Job seekers in Online Employment Services can contact the Digital Services Contact Centre on 1800 314 677 or email digitalservices@dese.gov.au.

For further information from the Victorian Government visit COVID Safe Settings and the Department of Health and Human Service’s Coronavirus.

Advice for job seekers and participants in New South Wales

Updated 15 July 2021

The suspension of mutual obligation requirements has been extended for New South Wales job seekers and participants in Bayside, Blue Mountains, Canada Bay, Central Coast, City of Sydney, Greater Sydney, Inner West, Randwick, Shellharbour, Waverley, Wollongong and Woollahra and will be in place until Tuesday 3 August 2021 (inclusive).   

During this period, no payment suspensions or financial penalties will apply for failure to meet mutual obligation requirements.

Job seekers should continue to check when their requirements are due or scheduled to occur after the suspension of mutual obligation requirements ends, including Job Search requirements. Job seekers and participants that may not be able to meet their Job Search requirements, which are due after the temporary suspension of mutual obligations, should contact their provider or the Digital Services Contact Centre to discuss. 

If you are directly affected by COVID-19, are required to self-isolate or care for someone required to self-isolate, you can contact Services Australia to discuss an exemption to your mutual obligation requirements.

For further information and support job seekers or participants connected with an employment services provider can contact the Employment Services National Customer Service Line on 1800 805 260 (free call from land lines, operating during standard business hours) or email nationalcustomerserviceline@dese.gov.au.

Job seekers in Online Employment Services can contact the Digital Services Contact Centre on 1800 314 677 or email digitalservices@dese.gov.au.

For further information visit Australian Government COVID-19 assistance for NSW and the New South Wales Government’s COVID-19 page.

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 employment services.  

Face-to-face servicing with providers has recommenced, effective 9 March 2021, subject to local health advice and state and territory COVID-19 requirements.

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

From the beginning of April 2021, there will also 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.

Exemptions from mutual obligation requirements for sole traders will progressively cease from 1 April 2021. 

If you are a job seeker, you can contact your employment service provider for further information about your requirements, how they may change and how to tailor them to your individual circumstances. 

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

Changes to Job Search Requirements

From 01 July 2021, job seekers will generally be required to undertake up to 20 jobs searches per month. 

Providers are required to tailor mutual obligation requirements, including the number of job searches required, to your personal circumstances. This includes taking into account your age, capacity to work, opportunities such as education and training, and the local labour market conditions. You should regularly discuss your circumstances with your provider to ensure your mutual obligation requirements reflect your individual circumstances, and these are accurately reflected in your Job Plan. 

If at any time you do not think you will be able to meet your requirements you can also contact your provider to discuss solutions. 

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 contact you about your requirements. 

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 organisations must ensure the services they deliver onsite or an activity you are participating in is safe and meets local health advice. They are also required to have a COVID-Safe plan at all times.

When attending face-to-face servicing, you must follow all COVID-19 related procedures set in place by your provider, host organisation or other organisation venue.

Your compliance status

You should sign in to jobactive.gov.au/jobseekers 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.

Employer Reporting Line

The Employer Reporting Line allows employers to provide information to the Department of Education, Skills and Employment about a job seeker they believe is not genuinely looking for work, while receiving income support from Services Australia (Centrelink) and participating in one of the department’s employment programs.

To find out more about this service, or to read the Employer Reporting Line conditions of use and privacy statement, please refer to the Employer Reporting Line on the jobactive website.

Phone: 1300 361 241
Email: employerfeedback@dese.gov.au

Job seeker feedback

If you think an employer report to the Employer Reporting Line has been lodged incorrectly about you there are some important things that you should know.

Firstly, compliance action will not be taken in relation to an employer report without the chance for you to explain your circumstances. This could include whether you think a reasonable excuse applies for not attending an interview or for not accepting a job because it is not suitable for you. For more information, visit the Department of Social Services.

You should discuss this with your jobactive provider, or the Digital Services Contact Centre (for participants in Online Employment Services) if an employer report is raised with you.

If you feel you can’t talk to your provider or the Digital Services Contact Centre, or you are still not happy, you can contact the department's National Customer Service Line to raise your concerns.

National Customer Service Line
Phone: 1800 805 260 (free call from land lines)
Email: nationalcustomerserviceline@dese.gov.au

Digital Services Contact Centre
Phone: 1800 314 677 (free call from land lines)
Email: digitalservices@dese.gov.au

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.

ParentsNext requirements 

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.

Who to contact

If you have an employment services provider, they are your best first point of contact. 

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 or the status of your income support application.

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

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

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