Special Benefit

Mutual obligation requirements


We have information in different languages about Mutual obligation requirements

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

Who has mutual obligation requirements

You have mutual obligation requirements if you get:

What you need to do

To keep getting your payment you need to go to your appointments and meet your activities.

Job Plan or Participation Plan

You must have a job plan or participation plan. Your plan says what you’ve agreed to do to have the best chance of getting a job.

You must agree to your plan with us, or your employment services or ParentsNext provider. You’ll need to 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:

Your provider can help you with:

  • job search
  • training, and
  • computers, phones and stationery

Read more about jobactive on the Department of Jobs and Small Business website.

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

You can include a mix of these options. In your first 12 months, you’ll need to do at least 15 hours of paid work per fortnight to fully meet your requirements. Otherwise, you’ll also need to look for work. If you want to do voluntary work you need to talk to us about it. We must agree the work is suitable.

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. Once you’re better, your normal requirements will start again.

You need to give us a medical certificate. It must say why you’re unfit to work for 8 hours or more a week. You can do this by signing in to your Centrelink online account through myGov.

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 a new job plan. Your employment services provider will help you make a new one.

If you could have claimed Widow Allowance

You’re exempt from mutual obligation requirements if on or after 1 July 2018 you:

You can volunteer with an employment services provider if you want help to find suitable work or do training.

Read more about jobactive on the Department of Jobs and Small Business website.

When penalties apply

If you don’t meet your mutual obligation requirements your payment can reduce or stop.

Talk to your provider about what you need to do to avoid a penalty.

About compliance

There are 2 compliance systems. The systems have different rules and penalties.

The employment service you’re with determines which compliance system applies to you.

jobactive, Disability Employment Service or ParentsNext

You could get demerits and financial penalties if you don’t meet your requirements if you’re:

Read more about not meeting mutual obligation requirements.

Community Development Programme

You may get a penalty and a failure if you don’t meet your requirements.

Read more about not meeting your mutual obligations - Community Development Programme.

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: 16 July 2018