Mutual obligation requirements

There are things you must do to keep getting income support and have a better chance of finding work.

We’re changing requirements relating to drug or alcohol misuse. Read more about changes to help support people with drug or alcohol misuse.

Who has mutual obligation requirements

You have mutual obligation requirements if you get:

What you need to do

You need to apply for jobs or do training or study.

Job plan

To keep getting income support, you must have a job plan. Your job plan says what you’ve agreed to do to have the best chance of getting a job.

You must agree to your job plan with us or your employment services provider and review it regularly.

Employment services providers

Employment services providers help you find work. We’ll refer you to a provider of your choice in your area.

If you have a disability you may be able to use Disability Employment Services.

If you live in a remote area you must use the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Community Development Programme.

Your provider can help you with:

  • job search
  • training
  • finding jobs in your area, and
  • computers, phones and stationery

Read about:

Obligation differences

If you’re 55 or older

You can meet your mutual obligation requirements by doing at least 30 hours per fortnight of:

  • suitable paid work
  • self-employment
  • approved voluntary work
  • a mix of these

If you want to do voluntary work you need to talk to us about it. We must agree the work is suitable for you.

If you’re a principal carer

If you’re the person responsible for looking after a child under 16, your mutual obligation requirements are more flexible.

Read about mutual obligation requirements and exemptions for principal carers.

If you’re sick or injured

If it’s hard to look for work because you’re sick or injured, we may reduce your mutual obligation requirements for a while.

You need to give us a medical certificate that says why you’re unfit to work for 8 hours or more a week. You can do this through your Centrelink online account.

When we get your medical certificate we decide if you can do:

  • any suitable work – this may be different from your usual work
  • training or other activities

If we decide you can do something for at least 15 hours a week, you need to make a new job plan. Your employment services provider will help with this.

When penalties apply

If you don’t meet your mutual obligation requirements we can reduce or stop your income support.

Read about penalties for not meeting your mutual obligation requirements.

What exemptions may apply

We may give you an exemption from mutual obligation requirements if something major happens. This could be:

  • a crisis like the death of an immediate family member, domestic violence or being homeless
  • a disaster at home, for example fire or flood
  • short term care duties for an adult or child

Call us on your regular payment line to ask if you can get an exemption. You’ll need to give us proof of what’s going on.

Page last updated: 22 June 2018