Explainer: job seeker Targeted Compliance Framework

A pair of hands interacting with a tablet, and the words 'New compliance system coming 1 July 2018'

This story was first published on Tuesday 26 June 2018. If you wish to use this content, please contact media@dese.gov.au to confirm that the information is still current.

The job seeker Targeted Compliance Framework came into effect on 1 July 2018. The framework is designed to be simpler, fairer and more effective.


The framework makes use of improved technology to allow job seekers to see their compliance status at any time. They can view their status through their online dashboard on the jobactive website or the Job Seeker App.

A status indicator at the top of the page uses traffic light colours to show whether a job seeker is in the green zone (fully compliant), in the amber zone (warning) or in the red zone (penalty).

The job seeker dashboard includes a visual display of how many demerits they have incurred (if any) and how many more would potentially move them into the penalty zone. This way, job seekers always know where they stand and know the consequences for non-compliance.

The dashboard also lists mutual obligation requirements and notifies job seekers when they are due.  

By using the dashboard to confirm they have met their requirements, job seekers will manage their own compliance reporting and take personal responsibility for reporting their job search and attendance at appointments.


The majority of job seekers who are genuinely looking for work will enjoy the benefits of this improved technology. They will not otherwise be affected by these rules and will remain in the Green Zone. People looking for work but who are having difficulty meeting their requirements will be able to get more help.

Job seekers who miss a number of requirements will face a temporary suspension of their payment (with full back-pay once they re-engage with their employment services provider) to help ensure they stay on track in their job search by encouraging regular contact with their provider.

Job seekers who repeatedly fail to meet their requirements, without good reason, or who refuse work outright, will receive a financial penalty.

This is fairer than the previous system, where job seekers who were generally compliant could incur financial penalties (without back-pay) for their first failure.

Penalties will be applied only to those who demonstrate persistent non‑compliance and who have been found through multiple assessments to be able but unwilling to meet their requirements, or to those who refuse work outright.

Job seekers who do not meet their requirements will be assessed first by their employment services provider (generally after their third demerit) and then by Centrelink (generally after their fifth) to ensure that their requirements are reasonable for their circumstances.

In contrast, under the previous compliance framework, job seekers could receive multiple financial penalties before they underwent any assessment to see why they were having difficulty meeting their requirements.

More effective

If a job seeker does not meet their requirements, for example by not attending an interview with their jobactive provider, their payment may be immediately suspended. But they will receive full back-pay once they re‑engage, which encourages job seekers to get back on track quickly.

If a job seeker does not meet their requirement and does not have a valid reason, they will have a demerit added to their record (amber zone).

After accruing five demerits in six months, further failures may result in escalating financial penalties which are not back-paid. Job seekers risk losing one week’s pay, then two weeks’ pay. Job seekers who still do not comply will have their payment cancelled and will have to wait four weeks before they can get paid again (red zone).

If the job seeker then meets their requirements for three months, they will return to the start of the process with zero demerits (green zone).

Serious failures (like refusing work outright) will result in immediate loss of payment for four weeks, unless the job seeker has a reasonable excuse.

Under the previous framework, an eight-week non-payment period applied for serious or persistent non-compliance. It had little deterrent effect, however, as it could be waived and was waived in over 90% of cases.

Waivers are not permitted under the new framework, ensuring it is a real and consistently applied deterrent.

This article was updated to improve clarity on 14/03/19.

Correct at time of publication.