Before determining the terms (activities) to be included in a job seeker's EPP, consideration needs to be given to the individual circumstances of the job seeker and whether they have the capacity to comply with the proposed terms. Once fully informed about the job seeker's individual circumstances, their capacity to undertake activities, and any skills they would like to develop or already have that can be built on, the EPP can be negotiated. The EPP must be tailored to the job seeker's needs, with activities that align with their goals and assist them in gaining sustainable employment or in the case of an early school leaver, completing the final year of secondary school, or an equivalent level of education (Certificate Level II or above) as a first step.
In setting the terms of a job seeker's EPP, the delegate must consider:
A person must be capable of complying with any term included in an EPP. If a person is not capable of undertaking an activity (or a combination of activities) then that activity (or combination of activities) cannot be included in their EPP.
Example: An activity should not be included in a job seeker's EPP if:
Early school leavers will be required to participate in approved study or training in combination with other approved activities until they either turn 22 years of age or have completed the final year of secondary school or an equivalent level of education (Certificate Level II or above).
Approved study for an early school leaver is a course that is:
An EPP for an early school leaver should contain either participation in approved study or one or more approved activities for early school leavers (188.8.131.52) that the Secretary (or delegate) considers suitable, or a combination of these. The EPP should ensure the early school leaver is undertaking activities for at least the appropriate number of hours per week that the Secretary considers suitable for the person (normally 25 hours a week).
Early school leavers with a partial capacity to work or who are principal carer parents, with part-time participation requirements, will generally need to participate in approved activities for 30 hours per fortnight.
Specific rules apply for determining suitable terms for inclusion in an EPP for job seekers who are classified under SSAct section 16B as having a partial capacity to work because of a physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment or under SSAct section 5 as a principal carer of a child.
Act reference: SSAct section 5 Family relationships definitions-children, section 16 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 providers 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 to meet the activity test must remain connected to an employment services provider.
Note: Principal carer parents who have begun participation in an approved course of study (1.1.P.418) while receiving PP prior to moving on to NSA or YA (job seeker) will be able to satisfy the activity test in full by continuing that course until completion and undertaking at least 30 hours of study per fortnight. However, principal carer parents who wish to begin full-time study, other than short course approved study, after qualifying for NSA or YA (job seeker) will need to be assessed for eligibility to receive Austudy or YA as a full-time student.
Principal carers who are also early school leavers must comply with the early school leaver policy and activities included in their EPPs 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.
Unless otherwise requested or agreed to by the principal carer parent, activity test requirements (including work experience and compulsory activity phase activities and appointments with a provider) should be scheduled to occur during school hours (i.e. generally between 9am and 3pm during school terms).
An activity should not be included in a principal carer parent's EPP if it would involve travel of more than 60 minutes each way by the transport mode normally available to the person.
Policy reference: SS Guide 184.108.40.206 Activity Testing & Mutual Obligation for NSA/YA Job Seekers Overview, 220.127.116.11 Activity Testing for NSA/YA Job Seekers - Suitable Activities - Overview, 18.104.22.168 Job Search - Overview, 22.214.171.124 Suitable Activity - Study & Training, 126.96.36.199 Suitable Activity - Voluntary Work, 188.8.131.52 Suitable Activity - Job Search (PP), 184.108.40.206 Suitable Activity - Study (PP), 220.127.116.11 Other Suitable Activities (PP), 1.1.P.418 Principal carer - study
For job seekers assessed as having a partial capacity to work, the terms (activities) recommended by the ESAt/JCA will be the most suitable for inclusion in their EPP. However, job seekers can still suggest terms (activities) that they would like to have included.
In addition to the conditions outlined in this topic, a job seeker assessed as having a partial capacity to work, should not have an activity included in their EPP if it:
It is preferable to reduce an early school leaver's requirements, rather than exempt them from the activity test. The activity test is flexible enough to make this possible. When circumstances arise that impede an early school leaver's ability to meet their usual requirements the activity test can be adjusted to reflect those circumstances (3.2.11).
Note: Job seekers with a partial capacity to work of 0-7 or 8-14 hours per week are not required to look for work and are required to attend a quarterly interview with DHS. They can volunteer to accept a referral to a suitable program of assistance.
Example 1: A person in a wheelchair cannot have an activity included in their EPP if the activity is held in a venue which does not have wheelchair accessible toilets.
Example 2: Polly has an anxiety disorder. The disorder is managed with medication, however, the medication caused fatigue and drowsiness, particularly in the mornings. An activity which requires Polly to start early in the morning would not be suitable to be included in her EPP.
Example 3: Bob's sister comes around at 10am each morning to help him shower. An activity requires Bob to attend at 9am, 3 times a week. In order to attend at 9am, Bob would need to pay for a private carer to come and help him shower as his sister is unable to come any earlier. This activity would not be suitable to be included in Bob's EPP as the cost of the private carer 3 times a week would be unreasonable.
Job seekers with part-time work requirements (including principal carer parents and people with a partial capacity to work) who meet their participation requirements on an ongoing basis by working 30 hours per fortnight but then who fail to meet their fortnightly work requirement, and do not have a reasonable excuse for failing to meet their requirements, will be immediately referred to an employment services provider if they are not active with a provider.
Reasonable excuse could include such reasons as a sick child, a cancelled shift, or a short term reduction in hours due to public holidays, pupil-free days, failure of special disability related transport, with an expectation that working hours will return to normal in the next fortnight.
If a job seeker in this category does have a reasonable excuse they should be monitored to ensure that they return to 30 hours work in the next fortnight, unless they continue to have a reasonable excuse for failing to meet their requirements.
Job seekers aged 55 years and over (regardless of whether they are also principal carer parents or people with partial work capacity) are taken to satisfy the activity test if they undertake at least 30 hours per fortnight of voluntary work, paid work (including self-employment) or a combination of the 2.
Job seekers who are satisfying activity test requirements through 30 hours per fortnight of approved voluntary work, paid work (including self-employment) or a combination of the 2 are not required to look for additional work, report job searches to DHS or participate in any other activity. However, these job seekers must register and remain connected to an employment services provider and cannot be exited. They are still required to accept suitable paid work (either full-time or an increase in hours) or referral to interviews, but will be deemed to be satisfying all other requirements while engaged in this activity. Failure to attend job interviews and accept increased hours may result in compliance action being taken (refer to 3.1.13).
If the job seeker's hours drop below 30 hours in the fortnight with a reasonable excuse, they will be given 2 further consecutive fortnights to increase their hours back above the 30 hours per fortnight threshold. DHS is responsible for determining if a job seeker has a reasonable excuse for a drop in hours.
If the job seeker does not restore their hours within these 2 further consecutive fortnights, they will be required to resume participation with their employment services provider and undertake compulsory activities.
Job seekers who do not satisfy their 30 hours per fortnight requirement and are without a reasonable excuse will be required to immediately resume participation with employment services. Compliance action will not be taken for failing to meet the above requirements however, job seekers who provide false information to DHS stating they are meeting their activity test requirements through 30 hours per fortnight of voluntary work, paid work or a combination of the 2 will be subject to compliance action.
Example: A reasonable excuse could be applied to someone who does ongoing voluntary work for a community organisation which closes down for the Christmas/New Year period. The concession would not apply to someone whose voluntary work ceases or reduces below 30 hours per fortnight for the foreseeable future, nor is it intended to give someone time to find some other voluntary work to make up the hours. See 18.104.22.168.
For the RJCP an EPP under social security law is also known as an individual participation plan.
Act reference: SSAct section 606 Newstart Employment Pathway Plans-terms, section 607 Newstart Employment Pathway Plans-principal carers, section 607A Newstart Employment Pathway Plans-people with partial capacity to work, section 607B Newstart Employment Pathway Plans-requirement to participate in an approved program of work, section 544B Youth Allowance Employment Pathway Plans-terms, section 603AA Relief from activity test-people 55 and over who are engaged in work, section 544C Youth Allowance Employment Pathway Plans-principal carers, section 544DA Youth Allowance Employment Pathway Plans-early school leavers
Last reviewed: 1 July 2013