Mutual Obligation Requirements

Mutual Obligation Requirements are activities you need to do to continue to get your income support payment and increase your chances of finding work.

To meet your Mutual Obligation Requirements you need to apply for jobs, train or study.

Your Mutual Obligation Requirements are more flexible if you are aged 55 years or older, are a principal carer, or have a medical condition.

Job Plan

Job seekers with Mutual Obligation Requirements need to have a Job Plan in order to receive a payment. The Job Plan outlines activities you agree to undertake to give you the best chance of getting a job.

Your Job Plan will be negotiated with us or your Employment Services Provider, and will be reviewed regularly.

Job seekers aged 55 and over

If you are aged 55 years or over, you can meet your requirements by doing at least 30 hours per fortnight of suitable paid work, self employment, approved voluntary work, or a combination of these.

Suitable paid work is any work you are capable of performing. If you choose to do voluntary work, we must agree that the voluntary work position is suitable for you. You will need to discuss this with us.

Principal carers

A principal carer is someone who is responsible for the day to day care, welfare and development of a child under 16 years of age.

Only one person at a time can be the principal carer of a child and this is generally the person who provides the greater amount of day to day care, such as a parent or guardian. If you and your partner provide equal levels of care, either of you may nominate as the principal carer.

If you are a principal carer and receive an income support payment, your Mutual Obligation Requirements are more flexible. Read more about Mutual Obligation Requirements and exemptions for principal carers.

Job seekers with a medical condition

If you have a temporary medical condition that affects your ability to look for work, you may be eligible for an exemption from your Mutual Obligation Requirements during this time.

To allow us to make this decision, you must provide a medical certificate stating that you are unfit to work for 8 hours or more a week. You can submit documents online using your Centrelink online account through myGov. For detailed instructions, see our online guide Submitting documents using your Centrelink online account.

Lodging a medical certificate does not automatically mean you do not have to look for work. We consider your medical condition and how it affects your ability to do suitable work, or participate in other activities such as training. Suitable work is any work you are capable of doing that is not necessarily your usual work.

If you are assessed as being able to undertake suitable work or activities for at least 8 hours a week, we will determine your Mutual Obligation Requirements for this time. You may also have to attend an appointment with us or your Employment Services Provider to discuss activities that can be included in your Job Plan during this period.

Employment Services Providers

A jobactive organisation, Disability Employment Services or Community Development Programme provider can help you look for work.

We can refer you to an Employment Services Provider in your area who can help you access job search assistance and training, job vacancies in your area and things like computers, telephones and stationery.

Read more about jobactive on the Department of Employment website.

Penalties for not meeting requirements

If you do not meet your Mutual Obligation Requirements, your income support payment may be reduced or stopped.

Read more about penalties for not meeting your Mutual Obligation Requirements.

Exemptions from your Mutual Obligation Requirements

You may be able to receive a short term exemption from your Mutual Obligation Requirements in special circumstances. Exemptions are based on your individual circumstances and you will be required to provide evidence. Some examples where an exemption might be granted are:

  • a major personal crisis such as the death of an immediate family member, domestic violence or homelessness
  • a major disruption to your home such as a fire or flood
  • temporary caring responsibilities for an adult or child

If you need an exemption, call us to discuss your situation.

Page last updated: 22 September 2016

This information was printed Saturday 1 October 2016 from It may not include all of the relevant information on this topic. Please consider any relevant site notices at when using this material.