All people receiving participation payments are subject to the compliance arrangements set out in Division 3A of the SS(Admin)Act.
Social security law defines 'participation payments' as:
In this section of the Guide, people receiving participation payments are referred to as job seekers.
Act reference: SSAct section 23(1)-'nominated visa holder'
The purpose of the compliance legislation is to encourage job seekers to participate in employment and engage with employment services. Job seekers who have a good reason for their actions should not be penalised. Job seekers who do not meet their requirements should be reconnected with employment services as quickly as possible.
In some circumstances, a job seeker who fails to attend an appointment or fails to participate in an activity can have their income support suspended regardless of whether or not they have a reasonable excuse for their non-attendance. In these circumstances, the job seeker's payment is restored, with full back payment, once they agree to attend a further appointment. Consideration is then given separately as to whether or not a failure (and where applicable a penalty) should be applied for the initial non-attendance. These arrangements are designed to encourage early re-engagement following non-attendance.
Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 42A Simplified outline, section 42SA Immediate non-payment of participation payments for certain failures
Employment services providers do not make compliance decisions under social security law. Providers report non-compliance to Centrelink, for Centrelink to make compliance decisions. Providers are to consider the above objectives when deciding whether to report non-compliance. Guidelines for providers emphasise the discretion they have to consider strategies such as giving a job seeker another chance to attend an appointment or letting them make up time missed from an activity, if they believe this will be a more effective way of re-engaging the job seeker than compliance action.
The legislation gives Centrelink officers, as delegated decision-makers, considerable discretion when deciding if a job seeker has a reasonable excuse for failing to meet their requirements and in deciding if they have been persistently non-compliant (see below). The legislation also gives Centrelink the discretion not to apply a NSNP failure, a connection failure, a reconnection failure or a serious failure, despite the failure being applicable. The discretion not to apply a penalty even where a job seeker has no reasonable excuse for their actions should be exercised only in exceptional circumstances.
Example: Jane is a 22 year old NSA recipient with a history of non-compliance over a 6-month period. Centrelink conducts a CCA and finds that Jane has no barriers to participation, However, Jane is 7 months pregnant and intends to claim PP as soon as her baby is born. Jane's pregnancy has not affected her capacity to comply and does not provide a reasonable excuse for any of her past failures, so Centrelink could apply a serious failure. However, the decision maker decides not to do so as applying the failure would serve no purpose as a deterrent to future non-compliance and would cause unnecessary financial hardship to Jane and her child.
This section contains the following topics:
Last reviewed: 1 July 2011