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JobSeeker penalties return: What you need to know

Lucy Dean
·2-min read
Mutual obligations have kicked back in: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg
Mutual obligations have kicked back in: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg

From Tuesday 4 August, Australians outside of Victoria receiving JobSeeker payments will be required to carry out certain activities to remain eligible for the income support payments.

That means Australians will be required to carry out job searches. This was previously paused during the worst of the Covid-19 crisis.

What do I need to do?

JobSeeker recipients will be required to complete the Job Seeker Snapshot questionnaire, and agree to a Job Plan with their service provider, as of 4 August.

The questionnaire is a series of questions designed to find out more about the services required. JobSeekers will receive this after submitting their claim.

Then, they will be required to carry out the tasks included in the Job Plan. This may include attending phone or online appointments with employment services providers or Services Australia and applying for up to four jobs a month.

What about carers and older Australians?

Other recipients will be required to carry out 30 hours of approved voluntary work if they can’t access paid work, including Australians 55 and older.

Principal carers also face mutual obligations requirements, although will receive a reduction in tasks if they have school aged children who can’t attend school.

They will also not be required to accept unsuitable roles. That can include roles of more than 25 hours per week, or roles where appropriate child care isn’t available during working hours and roles with unreasonable commute times or costs.

Work can also be classed as unsuitable if it doesn’t improve the workers’ financial situation by at least $50 a fortnight.


JobSeeker recipients who do not accept a suitable job may have their payments revoked for at least four weeks. They will then need to reapply for the income support payment.

Reasonable excuses vary depending on the recipients’ situation, such as if you’re an older Australian or carer. But reasonable excuses also include having already started another job or having accepted another job offer.

Payments can also be revoked for failure to attend appointments or not hit job search targets.

“The penalties regime will kick in if people refuse a job that has been provided and offered through that process,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said while announcing the measures.

“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.”

The re-introduced requirements and penalties come as Victoria enters a state of disaster, with 250,000 joining the jobless queue.

The Reserve Bank of Australia also warned it will get worse before it gets better, with unemployment set to hit 10 per cent.

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