If, prior to 1 July 2009, a job seeker's allowance has become non-payable because of the application of a compliance penalty, then the non-payment period will be completed under the pre-1 July 2009 rules. This includes where a job seeker has committed a failure that would make their allowance non-payable, even if their payment has not been stopped prior to 1 July 2009.
From 1 July 2009, the provisions that allow restoration of payment on agreement to commence a compliance activity following a serious failure will also apply to equivalent failures incurred prior to 1 July 2009. That is, failures for persistent non-compliance (repeated failures) or refusal of a job offer.
This will not be the case for penalty periods imposed for voluntary unemployment or unemployment due to misconduct, even though unemployment non-payment periods imposed for these reasons after 1 July 2009 will end for those job seekers specified in the legislative instrument (see above).
Failures incurred before 1 July 2009 will not count for the purposes of automatically triggering a CCA and must not be taken into account in determining persistent non-compliance.
From 1 July 2011, the legislation was amended to provide for:
Under the transitional policy arrangements for these changes, any requirement notified on or after 1 July is dealt with under the new provisions. Any requirement notified before 1 July is dealt with under the old provisions, even where the date of the requirement is on or after 1 July.
The transitional provisions in the legislation provide that suspension of payment following a failure to attend an activity or appointment and the application of a penalty following a failure to give prior notice of a reasonable excuse could apply immediately on or after 1 July, subject to appropriate notification being given. However, in practice such notification will not be given before 1 July.
A reconnection requirement or further reconnection requirement will be able to be given to a job seeker on or after 1 July, regardless of whether or not they have incurred a prior connection or reconnection failure (or whether they incurred one prior to 1 July) and failure to comply with the reconnection requirement or further reconnection requirement will result in suspension of payment and possibly a reconnection failure.
The penalty amount for any reconnection failure determined on or after 1 July (even where the failure occurred prior to 1 July) will be able to be deducted from the job seeker's next income support payment.
Example: Zubin is receiving NSA. He has no evident barriers to participation. On 28 June Zubin receives a letter (dated 26 June) notifying him of a requirement to attend an appointment with his JSA provider on 5 July. Zubin fails to attend the appointment and his provider reports this to Centrelink. Because he was notified prior to 1 July, his payment is not suspended.
On 7 July Centrelink contacts Zubin, who explains that the day before the appointment he was offered a day's work at on the day of the appointment. Centrelink confirms that this is the case and does not apply a connection failure on the grounds that he has a reasonable excuse for not attending the appointment.
Under the legislation, Centrelink could have discounted Zubin's reasonable excuse because he could have notified his provider of his inability to attend but failed to do so. However, as Zubin had not previously been formally notified of this requirement, Centrelink decided that it would have been unreasonable to expect him to have given prior notice.
Although Zubin has not incurred a connection failure, Centrelink gives him a reconnection requirement to attend a rescheduled appointment with his JSA provider on 8 July. Centrelink advises him of the consequences of non-attendance and of the requirement to give prior notice of any reason for not being able to attend. Zubin fails to attend the 8 July appointment and this is reported to Centrelink. Zubin's payment is suspended. Centrelink attempts to contact Zubin but is unsuccessful.
Zubin is due to be paid on 11 July but does not receive his payment. On 12 July he contacts Centrelink and agrees to attend a further rescheduled appointment on 13 July. The suspension is lifted and he receives the full payment that was due on 11 July.
When asked about his reason for not attending the 8 July reconnection appointment, Zubin explains that the day before the appointment he was again offered work on the day of the appointment. Zubin did not call Centrelink to advise that he would not be able to attend the appointment they had arranged for him with his provider, as he had been instructed to do, and could offer no reason for not doing so. Although Zubin has a reasonable excuse for the day of his appointment, Centrelink does not accept this because he failed to give prior notice of the reasonable excuse when it was reasonable to expect him to do so.
Centrelink applies a reconnection failure and Zubin is advised that he will lose a day's payment for each day from and including 8 July, when he failed to meet his reconnection requirement, until the day before he meets a further reconnection requirement, which he subsequently does by attending the appointment booked for 13 July. Zubin loses 5 day's participation payment, which is deducted from his next payment.
Act reference: SS(Admin)Act Part 3 Division 3A Compliance with obligations in relation to participation payments
Last reviewed: 1 July 2011