Job search is an integral part of meeting participation requirements for PP recipients who are subject to mandatory participation requirements. Unless they have been exempted from participation requirements, PP recipients with children of school age must comply with the terms of their EPP. Job search may also be combined with other suitable activities (e.g. a requirement to research child care availability).
Job search may not be required if the person is undertaking suitable activities which are sufficient in themselves to meet participation requirements (e.g. if the person is working 30 hours a fortnight). If the suitable activities undertaken by PP recipients are not sufficient in themselves to meet participation requirements in full, then a level of reduced job search may be required, taking into account their involvement in suitable activities.
Policy reference: SS Guide 18.104.22.168 When are EPPs Required? (PP), 22.214.171.124 Suitable Activity - Study (PP), 126.96.36.199 Other Suitable Activities (PP), 188.8.131.52 Participation Requirements Exemption - Special Circumstances (PP)
A mandatory part-time job search requirement will apply to PP recipients who meet ALL of the following criteria:
For PPS recipients, job search requirements will be applied once their youngest child turns 6.
PP recipients with part-time job search requirements are generally subject to an obligation to seek suitable paid part-time work of at least 15 hours per week. They are not required to seek or accept employment of more than 25 hours a week, although they may do so if they choose.
In some special family circumstances it may be appropriate to apply a reduced job search requirement (184.108.40.206), if those family circumstances affect a PP recipient's ability to meet their normal level of job search requirements for a period of time.
Both DHS and employment services providers have a role in setting a reasonable amount of job search contacts for job seekers. (Noting that DHS usually only set job search contacts for Stream 1 job seekers in the first 3 months of unemployment, after that it is the role of the employment services provider).
The number of job contacts a PP recipient is required to make each fortnight may also need to vary significantly for a variety of reasons, including personal factors.
Example: The following reasons may create variations in the number of job contacts a PP recipient is required to make:
Each region provides benchmarks for staff about numbers of job search contacts generally appropriate for the local labour market. These benchmarks identify any localities within the region that require special consideration as a result of distance from work and transport.
Act reference: SSAct section 501B PP Employment Pathway Plans-requirement to look for work of appropriate number of hours per week
Some people may have shared custody of a child(ren) distributed on a fortnightly basis and may therefore work irregular fortnightly hours (e.g. they may work 60 hours one fortnight and no hours the next).
Where people share care of a child or children on a fortnightly basis and work sufficient hours during their non-care fortnight to meet their activity test or participation requirements (when considered over a 4 week period), their entitlement period for income support purposes should be adjusted, so that each entitlement period would comprise a week of being the carer, and a week of not being the carer (i.e. a week of 30 hours income and a week of no income).
A component of job search is not required if the suitable activities undertaken by a PP recipient are sufficient in themselves to meet the participation requirements.
If the suitable activities are not sufficient, then a reduced level of job search will be required. The reduced job search for these recipients should take into account all of their participation requirements and should complement their suitable activities.
Example: Donna is a PPS recipient with 2 children, Mark and Carol. Donna works 10 hours a week as a receptionist at a veterinary surgery in her local area. Part-time work is a suitable activity but Donna is not undertaking enough hours of part-time work to satisfy her participation requirements in full. Taking this part-time work into account, Donna is set a reduced job search requirement of 3 job contacts a fortnight in order to find a further 5 hours of work a week to meet the 15 hours a week requirement.
Act reference: SSAct section 501B PP Employment Pathway Plans-requirement to look for work of appropriate number of hours per week
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.
Example 1: Nadira has recently commenced work on a casual basis in a local small business. Her hours of employment fluctuate on a weekly basis depending on the workload of the business. In her first week of employment Nadira is required to work 13 hours, and she works 18 hours in the second week. Since her total fortnightly hours are more than the 30 hours fortnightly minimum, Nadira has met her participation requirements for that fortnight in full through undertaking this work.
Example 2: Phillipa's hours of work vary each week because of the changing workload of her employer. In the first week, she is required to work 8 hours, 15 hours in the second week, 9 hours in the third week, and 20 hours in the fourth week. Since her total fortnightly hours (in either fortnightly period) are not greater than or equal to the 30 hours fortnightly minimum, Phillipa has not fully met her participation requirements through undertaking this work.
Act reference: SSAct section 502B Persons engaged in suitable paid work of at least 30 hours per fortnight
If a principal carer parent is working 30 hours a fortnight then they are fully meeting all participation requirements, including job search, and do not need to look for additional work.
If the principal carer parent is working but the hours of work is less than 30 hours per fortnight then the parent is required to search for work to enable them to increase their total hours of employment to at least 30 hours a fortnight. They will also be required to participate in an employment service. If the person is not active with an employment services provider they should be referred to one.
If a principal carer parent is meeting their participation requirements by working and the hours of work are generally 30 hours a fortnight or more, but the hours of work fall below 30 hours then:
Where fortnightly work is less than 30 hours, an appropriate level of job search must be set. Where a principal carer parent is receiving part rate PP (i.e. not precluded from payment) and their hours worked are:
Example 1: Cora is a principal carer parent with one child, Dash. Cora works 22 hours a fortnight as a cashier at a petrol station in her local area. Part-time work is a suitable activity but Cora is not undertaking enough to satisfy her participation requirements in full. Taking this part-time work into account, Cora remains registered with her employment services and is set a job search requirement of 3 job contacts a fortnight in order to find a further 8 hours of work a fortnight.
Example 2: Julliette is a principal carer parent with 2 children aged 7 and 9. Julliette has been working 40 hours a fortnight at a local supermarket. The supermarket reduces her hours to 20 hours a fortnight and these hours are expected to last for at least the next few months. Julliette is set a job search requirement of 3 job contacts a fortnight so she can find a further 10 hours of work a fortnight, and is referred to a provider for employment assistance.
Example 3: Katherine is a principal carer parent with one child, Alfred, aged 6. Katherine is working 32 hours a fortnight in a small family owned local cafe. On Tuesdays she normally works a 6 hour shift. However, on one Tuesday the owner has to close the cafe because of a family emergency after only being open one hour. This means that Katherine only works 27 hours in that fortnight. Katherine will return to her normal 32 hours a fortnight routine the following fortnight. As the reduction in hours could not have been foreseen and she will definitely return to her normal hours, Katherine is not required to look for additional work. If, however, the reduction in hours lasted beyond this instance then she would have to look for additional work.
A principal carer is not required to meet any activity test requirements during the fortnight that the Christmas public holiday falls. However, they are still required to lodge their statement (1.1.S.350) to DHS for this period in order to report any earnings and stimulate their payment.
Where a principal carer is meeting the activity test by working (including instances where working is one of a combination of activities that meet the activity test) and the person's employer initiates a shutdown period over the long school holiday Christmas break, the principal carer is considered to be meeting the activity test as long as they reasonably expect to resume their employment when their employer resumes in the New Year. The employer initiated shut down period break can only be taken while the place of employment has shut down, up to a maximum of 8 weeks. After 8 weeks the principal carer will be required to participate in additional activities to meet activity test requirements.
Example 1: Jeremy is a PPS recipient with 2 children, Mark who is 8 and Kerryn who is 6. Jeremy works 32 hours per fortnight as a teacher's aide at the local primary school. From 22 December 2012 the school is closed for the long school holidays and Jeremy is unable to continue his regular 32 hours per fortnight until it re-opens for the new school year on 8 February 2013. Jeremy lets DHS know that his work place is shutting down for the period between 22 December 2012 and 8 February 2013 but that he will resume his regular hours when it opens again, by producing a letter from the school. As the shut-down period is less than the maximum 8 weeks Jeremy will not be required to do any additional activities to meet his activity test and his PPS payment rate will increase to reflect his reduced earnings.
Mature age PP recipients (i.e. those who are aged 55+) are taken to satisfy the activity test if they undertake 30 or more hours of voluntary work, paid work or a combination of the 2 in a fortnight. If their 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. If they do not restore their hours within these 2 further consecutive fortnights, they will be considered to no longer be fully meeting their requirements. They will need be re-engaged with their employment services provider and be required to meet other participation requirements.
Mature age PP recipients who do not meet their 30 hour per fortnight requirement of voluntary activity or voluntary/paid work mix and do not have a reasonable excuse will be required to re-engage with their employment services provider. It would be expected that they would have more formal job search requirements placed into their EPP.
PP recipients, who have to wait for a period of time before commencing employment of at least 30 hours a fortnight or an approved course, would normally be expected to undertake job search in the intervening period. Similarly, PP recipients working 30 hours a fortnight on a casual basis would be expected to undertake job search for periods in which the business is in a holiday shut down.
Example: A PP recipient has been accepted into the next intake of a course, but that does not commence for another 3 months.
The PP recipient would generally be required to continue to look for any suitable work (220.127.116.11) available, which should not preclude their ability to undertake the employment or course of study. The PP recipient would be required to seek temporary, part-time or casual work, even if only for a short period. The rationale for this is in case the course or job doesn't take place as expected. It keeps the PP recipient in the job market for other vacancies and perhaps better offers.
There is no need to adjust a job seeker's requirements if they have a break less than or equal to 4 weeks that is outside their control. If the break is greater than 4 weeks then the job seeker is required to undertake other suitable activities such as job search, for the period of the break. The EPP should be revised to include the adjusted requirements.
Exception: Separate rules apply to principal carer parents where the activity is casual part-time paid employment. Breaks or holidays in casual part-time work beyond the control of the parent of any duration can result in the principal carer parent being required to undertake other suitable activities (job search in particular) for any fortnight in which the 30 hours part-time work requirement is not met. Breaks or holidays in permanent part-time work will not result in principal carer parents having to undertake other activities as long as their basic rate of income support does not increase during the holiday (i.e. they receive the same level of employment income during the break). An exception is made during employer initiated shut down periods. Refer to 'Employer initiated shut down period over the long school holiday break' outlined above.
If a person needs to take a break from an activity due to personal circumstances, then they must immediately notify DHS or their employment services provider, who will then develop a new EPP taking into account the job seeker's changed circumstances.
Example: The job seeker may have a reduced capacity due to a recurrent medical condition or unexpected child care responsibilities and is unable to make suitable alternative arrangements.
PP recipients with mandatory participation requirements must provide information about their efforts to obtain work. The application for payment form is designed to monitor these efforts.
Note: Principal carer parents and people with partial work capacity are generally not required to complete job seeker diaries or ECCs.
Under the terms of their participation agreement, PP recipients with mandatory participation requirements will be required to register with and use the services of an employment services provider. This includes principal carers who are identified as needing specialist assistance after undergoing an ESAt/JCA. The level of individual assistance provided by a provider will increase over time. The sooner a PP recipient registers with a provider, the sooner they will receive more substantial assistance, if needed.
Note: PP recipients who are not subject to mandatory participation requirements can volunteer for employment services at any time and should be encouraged to do so.
Last reviewed: 1 July 2013