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JobSeekers face ‘penalties’ for rejecting a job, says PM

·3-min read
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - JULY 9: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison listens to a question during a media conference at Parliament House on July 9, 2020 in Canberra, Australia. Australia has suspended its extradition policy with Hong Kong in light of recent changes to security laws. Australia will also offer visas for residents of Hong Kong to apply for residency in Australia. (Photo by David Gray/Getty Images)
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison listens to a question during a media conference at Parliament House on July 9, 2020 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by David Gray/Getty Images)

Job seekers will face “penalties” if they reject a job that has been made available to them, the Prime Minister said on Tuesday.

Speaking from Canberra, Scott Morrison said that mutual obligations will be reintroduced in two phases for JobSeekers.

In the first phase, which will begin on 4 August, job seekers will have to reconnect with employment services and conduct at least four job searches a month, he said.

And if a job is offered to job seekers, they are obliged to take it up.

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

“So 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.”

This was reiterated later in a joint statement by Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Michaelia Cash and Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Rushton that stated job seekers who receive income support payments are expected to “accept any offer of suitable paid work”.

Those who don’t may be denied their welfare payments, the ministers warned.

“From 4 August 2020, if a job seeker refuses an offer of suitable employment – without a valid reason – they may have their payment cancelled, and may need to wait for four weeks before they can reapply for income support.”

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

The second phase of mutual obligations requirements for JobSeekers will begin at the end of September, Morrison also added.

“We will be moving to a higher rate of job search.

“We'll be reintroducing the assets test for eligibility for those payments and we'll be reintroducing assets waiting period at that time.”

However, eased restrictions around eligibility for sole traders will be maintained.

The ordinary waiting period will still be waived and the partner income test thresholds will also be maintained.

Measures are likely to be extended into 2021, the prime minister confirmed.

“We will make further decisions about JobSeeker at closer to the end of the year or potentially even in the budget. It is our intention that we would expect that there would be likely a need to continue those supplements post-December,” he said.

Morrison announced extensions of both the JobSeeker and JobKeeper schemes today.

The $550 Coronavirus Supplement will be brought down to $250 per fortnight from late September, and this will extend until December.

Meanwhile, JobKeeper has been extended until March next year but will operate at a reduced rate.

Businesses that receive the payment will have to do a new turnover test, and there will be different rates for part-time and casual employees.

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