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JobSeeker rules tightened: Are you eligible?

Lucy Dean
·3-min read
Scott Morrison has announced a change to JobSeeker. Images: Getty
Scott Morrison has announced a change to JobSeeker. Images: Getty

The government on Wednesday unveiled the new level of JobSeeker payments, to kick in from late September until December.

The changes will see the fortnightly Coronavirus Supplement, previously $550 on top of the $565.70 JobSeeker payment, reduced to $250.

That means Australians receiving JobSeeker will receive $815,70, down from $1,116.70 a fortnight. This is still higher than the base JobSeeker payment of $565.70. Announcing the change, the government said the reduced payments are designed to encourage Australians to work and study.

The eligibility rules have also changed slightly, meaning Australians will need to meet tougher rules to access the payments.

"JobSeeker and JobKeeper are not do-nothing payments," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

"JobSeeker and JobKeeper are payments that support people's incomes but are not designed to prevent them from going out and seeking work."

Here’s what’s changed.

Asset test

From 25 September, the assets test and the Liquid Assets Waiting Period will be reintroduced. That means that Australians with more than $5,500 in funds as a single or $11,000 if you have a partner will need to wait for the JobSeeker payment.

This is a guideline, with Services Australia stating it will inform Australians of their waiting period when they apply.

Image: Services Australia
Image: Services Australia

The asset test will come back into effect from September, meaning payments may be cancelled if you breach the below asset limits:

Image: Services Australia
Image: Services Australia

Partner payments

Recipients will also face an increased JobSeeker Payment partner income test.

Previously, your JobSeeker payment would have reduced by 25 cents for every dollar over $996 your partner earned a fortnight. That will now change to see your payment reduced by 27 cents for every dollar your partner earns over $1,165 every two weeks, or $80,238.89 a year.

Income restrictions

However, under the new JobSeeker rules, recipients will be able to earn up to $300 a fortnight before their payments begin to taper. Previously, this was set at $106 per fortnight.

“We are increasing the income free area for JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance (other) to $300 a fortnight to encourage and support recipients to take up job opportunities as businesses reopen,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

As it stands, a single person can earn up to $1,088.50 a fortnight before they lose their JobSeeker payments entirely.

Mutual obligations

Australians receiving the payment face tougher jobs rules. As Morrison said on Wednesday, those who refuse to accept a job facing having their payments cut. They may also need to wait four weeks before they can reapply.

“If there is a job to be taken and a job that is being offered, then it is an obligation, a mutual obligation, for those who are on JobSeeker to take those jobs where they're on offer,” Morrison said.

From 4 August, JobSeeker recipients will be required to connect with employment services and apply for at least four jobs a month.

Then, if they’re offered a job, they have to take it up unless they have a good reason.

“The penalties regime will kick in if people refuse a job that has been provided and offered through that process,” said Morrison.

Jobs minister Michaelia Cash reiterated that, stating that Australians may need to wait four weeks before they can reapply for JobSeeker if they refuse a job “without a valid reason”.

Yahoo Finance has contacted the Department of Education, Skills and Employment for clarification on what constitutes “a valid reason”.

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