The activity test is designed to ensure that unemployed people receiving income support payments are actively looking for work and/or doing everything that they can to become ready for work in the future. Activity test requirements should be tailored to a person's individual circumstances and needs (e.g. they should recognise that early school leavers, people with a disability or with child care responsibilities may need to undertake a range of activities to help them become work-ready and self-supporting).
A person satisfies the activity test if the person:
A person may also be required to satisfy the activity test through:
It is a basic qualification provision that all job seekers must be willing and able to satisfy the activity test. For this reason, where it is clear that a person who is claiming an allowance does not intend to meet their activity test requirements, payment should not be granted. If a job seeker receiving income support indicates that they no longer intend to meet their activity test requirements, their payment should be cancelled until the delegate is satisfied that the job seeker intends to meet their activity test requirements. The compliance provisions also allow sanctions to be imposed on job seekers who fail to meet specific activity test requirements.
A person who cannot meet their activity test requirements but does not qualify for an exemption should have their payment rejected or cancelled.
Actively seeking suitable work generally means full-time work but a job seeker who is capable of full-time work should seek and be willing to accept any sort of suitable work, including part-time and casual work and work that is not the job seeker's preferred work.
Job seekers who are not able to work full-time or are restricted to a limited range of duties because of incapacity are expected to look for work to their capacity. If a person in this situation is undertaking work up to their capacity they are considered to be satisfying the activity test while their incapacity remains unchanged. The level of the person's capacity must be confirmed by an ESAt/JCA or medical evidence. If the person's level of incapacity changes their activity test will be amended to reflect the change in capacity.
Young people aged under 22 who receive YA (job seeker) are not able to satisfy the activity test by undertaking job search activities, unless they have attained Year 12 or an equivalent qualification.
These 'early school leaver' job seekers are required to satisfy the activity test by complying with a YA EPP that requires them to undertake:
Early school leavers who are also principal carer parents must comply with the early school leaver policy and activities included in their EPP must reflect these requirements. However, those that are meeting their participation requirements as a principal carer through 30 hours a fortnight of paid employment, voluntary work (or a combination of the two) cannot be compelled to participate in education and training.
Job seekers who are classified under SSAct section 16B as having a partial capacity to work because of a physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment must also look for work to their capacity but are taken to satisfy the activity test if they work at least 30 hours per fortnight (188.8.131.52).
Job seekers with partial capacity to work of 0-7 or 8-14 hours per week can meet their activity test requirements by attending a quarterly interview with Centrelink and meeting the terms of their EPP. They can volunteer to accept a referral to a suitable program of assistance.
Act reference: SSAct section 16B Partial capacity to work
Job seekers classified under SSAct section 5 as a principal carer of a child must, unless exempted, satisfy the activity test by complying with approved activities outlined in their EPP (1.1.E.103).
A principal carer will meet their participation requirements if they are looking for suitable paid work where the work is of at least 30 hours per fortnight, and participating in any other activities as specified in their EPP.
A principal carer can also choose to fully meet their requirements by undertaking 30 hours per fortnight of (or any combination of) suitable paid work, approved study (where the total number of hours includes contact and non-contact hours) and in some circumstances voluntary work.
If the principal carer is not fully meeting their requirements in this way they will generally be required to look for suitable work or undertake other suitable activities as part of their EPP until their requirements are met.
Principal carer job seekers who are meeting their requirements through paid work, study or a combination of paid work and study for a total of at least 30 hours per fortnight are not required to remain connected to their employment services provider or accept any offers of suitable paid work.
Principal carers who are undertaking approved study, by itself or in combination with other suitable activities, who do not fully meet their requirements will be required to accept any suitable paid work that fits around any study that is outlined in their EPP, and is appropriate in respect of their caring responsibilities.
Principal carers who are undertaking voluntary work by itself or in combination with other suitable activities for at least a total of 30 hours per fortnight to meet the activity test must remain connected to an employment services provider.
Act reference: SSAct section 5 Family relationships definitions-children
Job seekers aged 55 years or over are taken to satisfy the activity test if they undertake at least 30 hours per fortnight of approved voluntary work, paid work (including self-employment) or a combination of these in a fortnight.
Act reference: SSAct section 601 Activity test (NSA), section 603AA Relief from activity test for job seekers 55 or older, section 603AB Relief from the activity test for job seekers who are principal carers or have a partial capacity to work, section 541 Activity test (YA), section 544DA(4) Youth Allowance Employment Pathway Plans-early school leavers, section 541(2)(aa) Requirement to undertake paid work
Policy reference: SS Guide 3.2.1 NSA - Qualification & Payability, 3.2.3 YA - Qualification & Payability, 3.2.11 Activity Test for NSA/YA Job Seekers - Exemptions, 184.108.40.206 Types of Failures & Penalties, 220.127.116.11 Suitable Activity - Voluntary Work
Last reviewed: 20 March 2013