The Government is committed to encouraging all people of working age, including parents, to participate in the paid labour market according to their capacity, and to developing an overarching mutual obligation framework for the participation support system.
These requirements aim to ensure that parents, who do have the capacity to look for and participate in work when their children go to school, do so. The broad objective of these arrangements is that people should look for, and undertake, paid work in line with their work capacity. The aim of these measures is to increase work force participation for parents and reduce welfare dependency.
Mandatory part-time participation requirements (formalised through an EPP (1.1.E.103)) apply to PP recipients who:
If a PP recipient is already subject to part-time participation requirements but has an additional PP child, then the mandatory requirements would not apply until this new youngest child turns 6. In the event that an EPP was in operation when the new PP child comes into the person's care (e.g., a new child is born), the existing agreement will cease, and a new agreement will not be required until the youngest child turns 6.
Act reference: SSAct section 500F PP When a person is covered by the parenting payment transitional arrangement, section 501 PP Employment pathway plans
EPPs cover those activities that PP recipients are required to undertake as part of their participation requirements.
A PP recipient 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 PP recipient can also choose to fully meet their requirements by undertaking 30 hours per fortnight of (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 PP recipient 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 service 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 to meet their participation requirements must remain connected to an employment services provider.
Kate is a principal carer parent receiving PPS and her youngest child has just turned 6. As such she now has participation requirements that she must meet to continue receiving her PP. The activities Kate decides to do to meet her requirements must be set out in her EPP. As Kate is employed with a school working 18 hours per week on a permanent basis, this is included in her EPP. Since Kate is participating in paid work for more than 30 hours per fortnight and her position is permanent, she is considered to be fully meeting her participation requirements and is not required to meet with an employment services provider.
Combining study and work
Bill is a single parent receiving PPS and his youngest child has just turned 6. When his child was still 5 and Bill did not have any participation requirements, he started studying a BA in Psychology through an online university. Bill studies for about 12 hours per week (these are non-contact hours as the course is conducted online). As Bill's child has turned 6 he now has mandatory participation requirements, and his provider must enter any activities Bill is to participate in to meet his requirements in his EPP. Since Bill was receiving PP when he started his degree he is able to continue studying the same course until he finishes. Bill's provider enters the approved study as an activity in Bill's EPP. As this amount of study does not fully satisfy his requirements, Bill also decides to look for a part-time job, his provider enters job search in his EPP as an activity and Bill remains connected with an employment services provider while he looks for suitable work that will fit in with his study and caring responsibilities. Three months later he finds regular employment in a café, for 4 hours one afternoon a week. As this position is regular and he is now fully meeting his participation requirements through 12 hours of study and 4 hours of employment each week, Bill can choose to be exited from his employment services provider.
Kieran is a single dad with 3 children who receives PPS. As his youngest child just turned 6 Kieran is required to enter into an EPP in order to meet his participation requirements. Kieran discusses his options with his employment services provider. They both agree that due to the poor labour market and lack of training opportunities where Kieran lives, voluntary work might be the best option. Kieran's provider helps him find some voluntary work that has a vocational aspect to it, with an approved voluntary organisation. Kieran does 15 hours of voluntary work with the organisation each week and this is included in his EPP. Although Kieran is meeting his participation requirements he must remain connected with his employment services provider, attend any job interviews and accept any suitable job offers that fit around his caring responsibilities.
Combining study, paid work and voluntary work
Norma has 2 children and the youngest has just turned 6, she receives PP and is required to enter into an EPP in order to meet her participation requirements. Norma already has a job where she works 10 hours per fortnight, this is entered into her EPP. Norma also decides to undertake study to broaden her future employment prospects. Norma and her provider decide on an approved course consisting of 8 hours contact each fortnight. As Norma's course also requires a few additional hours of home study each week Norma's provider increases the hours Norma spends studying in her EPP to 12 hours per fortnight. Norma is still not fully meeting her requirements through these activities so Norma and her provider decide that Norma will also undertake some voluntary work for 10 hours per fortnight. This is added to Norma's EPP. Assuming Norma meets the limited circumstances for which voluntary work might be considered. Norma is now meeting her participation requirements; and whilst Norma is not required to undertake job search, she is still required to stay connected with her provider, attend any interviews and accept any suitable jobs that fit around her study schedule and her caring responsibilities.
Act reference: SSAct section 501 PP Employment pathway plans, section 501A PP Employment pathway plan - terms
PP recipients who are age pension age (1.1.P.129) are not required to enter into or comply with an EPP. These recipients do not have to be connected to an employment services provider, although they may volunteer to do so. This applies regardless of the age of the recipient's youngest dependent child. This is consistent with the policy approach for age pensioners who do not have compulsory participation requirements.
Policy reference: SS Guide 1.1.P.129 Pension age (Age)
The Secretary may temporarily exempt a person from entry into an EPP (188.8.131.520). This should only be done where it would be unreasonable to expect the person to enter into or meet the terms of an EPP.
Recipients who are permanently or temporarily outside Australia are not required to enter into, nor comply with, an EPP for the period they are absent from Australia.
Where a decision is made not to require a person to enter into an EPP, no written notice requiring negotiation of an agreement should be issued. If an agreement has already been issued, it should be suspended.
Act reference: SSAct section 500F(4) Circumstances in which participation requirements need not be met, section 501A PP Employment pathway plan - terms, section 502C Domestic violence etc, section 502D People with disabled children…, section 502E Training camps, section 502F Special circumstances, section 502G Pre-natal and post-natal relief, section 502H Temporary incapacity
Policy reference: SS Guide 184.108.40.2060 Participation Requirements Exemption in Special Family Circumstances - Overview (PP)
An interview with DHS will be held in advance of the commencement of mandatory participation requirements (when the youngest child turns 6), to discuss the change in requirements. The interview will be held within a 4 month period (spanning 2 months either side) of the youngest child turning 5 years and 9 months.
In exceptional circumstances where it is not possible to interview a PP recipient within this period (e.g., the recipient is on an approved trip overseas), the interview should be (re)scheduled as close to this period as possible. In these instances, it is preferable that the date of the interview be brought forward rather than delayed.
The agreement will need to be reviewed when circumstances change, and can be reviewed at any time by the Secretary or the PP recipient.
For the RJCP an EPP under social security law is also known as an Individual Participation Plan.
Last reviewed: 1 July 2013