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3.5.1.200 Suitable Work (PP)

Contents

In general, PP recipients with participation requirements are subject to the same 'suitable work' requirements as people in receipt of NSA and YA, with the exception that suitable work for PP recipients is part-time work outlined below.

 

SSAct section 501A sets out factors the Secretary is required to take into account in determining a PP recipient's capacity to comply with an agreement. This topic provides additional information on work that is suitable for a PP recipient with part-time participation requirements. For the purposes of PP, suitable work includes part-time work that the person is capable of doing, taking into account their caring responsibilities and access to appropriate child care, if required. Suitable work must also comply with occupational health and safety standards and not place the parent in an unsafe workplace. PP recipients who do not accept offers of suitable employment without a 'reasonable excuse' are failing to comply with their participation requirements and may be committing a serious failure.

 

The delegate must take into account ALL the factors outlined in this topic when considering whether work is suitable for a person.

 

Act reference: SSAct section 501A PP Employment Pathway Plan - terms

Policy reference: SS Guide 1.1.U.55 Unsuitable work (NSA, YA), 3.2.9.20 Job Search - Overview, 3.5.1.170 Approved Activity - Job Search (PP)

 

Examples of suitable work

The rest of this topic explains situations in which work may be considered suitable for the purposes of meeting a PP recipient's mandatory participation requirements.

Note: These examples are NOT intended to be exhaustive.

 

Part-time work requirements - job search

PP recipients with participation requirements are subject to an obligation to seek part-time paid work of at least 30 hours per fortnight (unless they are undertaking approved activities of at least 30 hours per fortnight or are exempted from the obligation to meet participation requirements during a specified period).

 

They are not required to seek full-time employment, or employment of more than 25 hours per week in duration. However, a PP recipient may choose to seek (and take up) employment of more than 25 hours a week.

 

Act reference: SSAct section 501B Requirement to look for work

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.5.1.170 Approved Activity - Job Search (PP), 3.2.9.210 Suitable Activity - Principal Carer, 3.5.1.280 Participation Requirements Exemption in Special Family Circumstances - Case-by-Case (PP)

 

Part-time work requirements - accepting offers of paid work

PP recipients who are not meeting their participation requirements by undertaking approved study of at least 15 hours per week or 30 hours per fortnight are required to accept job offers of paid work between 15 and 25 hours per week, subject to the work being 'suitable'.

 

However, offers of suitable work within this range may not be immediately available. In the event that a job offer of suitable work amounting to less than 15 hours a week is received, the PP recipient is required to accept the offer, but would be required to continue looking for additional work until they reach a total of at least 15 hours per week (3.5.1.170).

Note: PP recipients are not required to seek or accept job offers of more than 25 hours per week in duration. However, a person may choose to accept such a job offer and to work more than the 25 hours per week.

Example 1: As a PP recipient subject to mandatory participation requirements, Jane is obliged to seek part-time paid work of at least 15 hours per week. She receives an offer of 10 hours part-time employment each week in the retail industry. If, after taking into account all the other factors outlined in this topic, the job is deemed 'suitable', she is required to accept this offer. However, since she would not yet be undertaking work of at least 15 hours per week, she will be required to search for alternative or additional employment which once secured would make 15 hours a week in total.

 

Example 2: Natalie is subject to an obligation to seek part-time paid work of at least 15 hours per week. She receives an offer of 27 hours part-time employment per week. Natalie may voluntarily accept the offer, but she cannot be compelled to accept it because it is greater than 25 hours of work per week.

 

Example 3: Tanya is subject to mandatory participation requirements as a PP recipient and receives a job offer of 17 hours per week. If, after taking into account all the other factors outlined in this topic, the job is deemed 'suitable' she is required to accept this offer. If Tanya is subsequently offered an additional job of 7 hours per week she cannot be compelled to accept the additional work, despite the combined total amounting to less than the maximum of 25 hours per week. Tanya satisfies her participation requirements in full by undertaking at least 15 hours of paid work a week (in this case 17 hours of work a week). Tanya could be encouraged to accept the extra work but not required to do so.

 

Example 4: Brian is a PP recipient subject to mandatory participation requirements. He receives a job offer of 23 hours per week. If, after taking into account all the other factors outlined in this topic, the job is deemed 'suitable', Brian is required to accept this offer. If, after beginning this employment Brian's hours of work reduce to 15 hours a week, Brian still meets his participation requirements in full. He can only be compelled to look for and accept additional hours of work if his hours of work fall to less than 15 hours a week. While working the 15 hours a week, Brian could, however, choose on a voluntary basis to seek additional hours offered by his employer.

 

Seeking suitable work

In assessing whether the work a PP recipient is seeking is considered suitable, a wide range of factors should be considered, such as:

  • age,
  • mobility,
  • qualifications,
  • language proficiency (PP recipients with limited language proficiency may limit their job search to areas where advanced communication skills are not essential),
  • work history, AND
  • geographical location.

 

In assessing whether the range of work a PP recipient is seeking satisfies any job search requirement included in their EPP, it must be clear that the PP recipient is seeking work in:

  • a variety of fields, e.g. not confining their job search to one specific preferred field in which they have experience or hold qualifications, AND
  • a reasonable wage range.

 

Suitable/unsuitable work offers

SSAct section 502(4) lists a range of circumstances that must be taken into consideration when determining if a particular offer of paid work is suitable for PP recipients. Paid work is to be considered unsuitable where:

  • the PP recipient lacks the particular skills, experience or qualifications that are needed to perform the work and no training will be provided by the employer, or
  • it has been established that there is medical evidence that the PP recipient has an illness, disability or injury that would be aggravated by the conditions in which the work would be performed, or
  • the PP recipient does not have access to appropriate care and supervision, for the one or more children for whom the PP recipient is the principal carer, at the times when the PP recipient would be required to undertake the work, or
  • performing the work in the conditions in which the work would be performed would constitute a risk to health or safety and would contravene a law of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory relating to occupational health and safety, or
  • the work would be covered by the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard, but the terms and conditions for the work would be below the minimum terms and conditions for the work under the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard, or
  • the work would not be covered by the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard, but, if it were so covered, the terms and conditions for the work would be below the minimum terms and conditions for the work under the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard, or
  • commuting between the PP recipient's home and the place of work would be unreasonably difficult, or
  • the work would require enlistment in the Defence Force or the Reserves, or
  • the work requires the PP recipient to move from a home in one place to a home in another place, or
  • if, for any other reason, the work is unsuitable for the PP recipient.

 

Act reference: SSAct section 502(4) Particular paid work is unsuitable...

 

Availability of child care & requirements outside school hours

Unless otherwise requested or agreed by the PP recipient, participation requirements (including work experience activity requirement activities and employment services provider interviews) should be scheduled to occur during school hours (i.e. generally between 9am and 3pm and during school terms).

 

Where a job offer would involve employment outside school hours or on school holidays, a job is generally considered suitable (subject to other considerations described below) if the PP recipient can access appropriate care and supervision for their child/ren during the hours of work, including the time it would take the parent to travel to and from work.

 

For the purposes of PP recipients with mandatory participation requirements, appropriate care and supervision is defined as:

  • child care provided by an approved child care service (an approved child care service within the meaning of the FAAct), OR
  • any other care or supervision arrangements that the parent deems suitable, OR
  • the child could be attending school.

 

Where a PP recipient contends that appropriate care and supervision is not available because their child/ren is/are truant (i.e. absent from school without a legitimate reason) despite being of compulsory school age, this DOES NOT mean the work is unsuitable. This is because appropriate care and supervision, in the form of school is available for the PP recipient to access despite the child/ren not choosing to attend.

 

If a parent advises that acceptable informal child care arrangements (e.g. with family and friends) are available in cases where a job offer would involve employment outside school hours or on school holidays, then they will be required to take up the job offer. However, the decision as to whether informal child care arrangements are acceptable lies solely with the PP recipient. That is, if a PP recipient does not want to accept informal child care and no places provided by an approved child care service are available they cannot be made to accept the job offer.

Note: Access to Government funded formal child care places is generally not available for children who are attending secondary school. Informal care or self-care by the child/ren will generally be the only option for PP recipients with older children who receive offers of work outside school hours. The decision as to whether these informal arrangements are acceptable lies solely with the PP recipient.

 

An outside school hours care service would not be considered acceptable if the child is unable to be supervised going to the service from school (if after school care) or from the service to school (if before school care) and the parent considers supervision to be necessary.

Example 1: By March 2013, Hannah has been on PP for 7 years. She has 2 sons, one aged 7 and one aged 9 years. She receives an offer of part-time employment of 20 hours per week working at a retail clothing store. On at least one day a week, Hannah would be required to work outside of normal school hours. Hannah examines child care options in her local area, and is able to find a formal outside school hours care service with available places (i.e. child care provided by an approved child care service). In this situation, the job offer should generally be deemed 'suitable' (subject to other considerations below), and Hannah is required to accept the job offer.

 

Example 2: Erika recently received an offer of employment, providing administrative support to a small business on a casual basis. The job will involve work outside normal school hours. While her daughter's primary school has an approved outside school hours place available and on-site, Erika does not want to place her child in care. She believes that as a mother, she should be there to care for the child and does not want her placed with a child care provider. In this case, the job offer is 'suitable' (subject to other considerations below) and Erika is required to accept the job. She may organise other types of care for her daughter if she wishes.

 

Example 3: Ione's youngest child has recently turned 6, and she has been offered part-time employment with a regional state government Agency. While no formal child care places are available in Ione's local area during the times she would be expected to work, her mother is able to provide care to the children during working hours. In this case, if Ione considers this arrangement acceptable, the job offer is 'suitable' (subject to other considerations below).

 

Child care arrangements change after accepting a suitable job offer

In the event that a PP recipient accepts an offer of paid employment, and child care arrangements later change, or hours of work change, so that approved formal child care or acceptable informal child care is no longer available, then the employment is no longer regarded as suitable, and the PP recipient may choose to seek alternative employment.

Example: Kim has a son Peter aged 7. She received an offer of part-time employment of 17 hours per week working at a supermarket, and has been able to obtain a temporary child care place for Peter at the local child care centre. This arrangement works well for the temporary placement, but after 3 months, there is no available place. Kim is able to leave this job (and resume looking for work) because the work is no longer suitable because she does not have access to appropriate care and supervision for Peter during the times she would be required to work. In this situation, Kim should be referred back to her employment services provider or other employment services provider.

 

Act reference: SSAct section 502(5) Appropriate care and supervision

Policy reference: FA Guide 1.1.A.90 Approved service, approved care (CCB, CCR), 1.1.R.20 Registered care, registered carer (CCB)

 

Offers of work that a PP recipient may have to give-up after a short period

There may be some circumstances where a PP recipient is offered part-time work and the person is able to commence the job now but will have to leave within a short period (say 2 weeks after the job commences). This will typically be in situations where the person has care available and organised for their child/ren now but they are unable to organise holiday care or are unsure of the availability of holiday care or other child care in up to 4 weeks time.

 

As a general principle, if the person has access to appropriate care and supervision, then the work is considered suitable and the parent is required to take up the job offer. A person's access to appropriate care and supervision at a future time is not a reasonable excuse for failing to take a job in a current period.

 

However, PP recipients may disclose and inform prospective employers and their employment services provider of their particular circumstances. This includes concerns over their ability to organise appropriate care and supervision for their children and any other relevant factors. If no offer of employment is made, or if an offer of employment is made but then retracted, following this disclosure then the person has not refused or failed to accept a suitable offer of employment. Where an employer still wishes to engage a job seeker for the fortnight or remainder of the fortnight (assuming the work is not otherwise unsuitable) there is no legal reason as to why the person should not accept such an offer.

Example 1: Jacqueline is a PP recipient with one child aged 6 years. At an interview she is offered part-time work of 20 hours a week at a local hardware shop. Jacqueline tells her prospective employer that while she can take up the job now in 2 weeks time her child will be on school holidays. As holiday care is not available in her local area she indicates that she will have to resign from her job when school holidays start to look after her child. The employer then retracts the offer of employment. In these circumstances, Jacqueline has not failed to accept a suitable job offer.

 

Example 2: Peta attends an interview for a part-time receptionist job of 18 hours a week at a local solicitor's office. At the interview Peta informs her prospective employer that while she can take up the job now she is concerned that she will not be able to get holiday care for her children in 3 weeks time. Her prospective employer indicates that despite this they will be willing to employ Peta for the next 3 weeks and makes a formal offer of employment to her. After this they will review her situation. In these circumstances the offer of employment is considered suitable and Peta is required to accept the job offer.

 

Other issues to consider when determining if a particular offer of paid work is suitable for PP recipients

SSAct section 502(4)(i) and 502(4)(j) provides some discretion to consider a range of additional circumstances when determining if a particular offer of paid work is suitable for PP recipients. These circumstances include, but are not limited to:

  • whether the location of either the workplace or the children venue makes the total travel time to work unreasonable, OR
  • whether the cost of travel to and from work is unreasonable, OR
  • whether the PP recipient will be financially better off as a result of undertaking the work, OR
  • the work is unsuitable on the basis of moral, cultural, or religious grounds.

 

Act reference: SSAct section 502(4)(i) The work requires the person to move..., section 502(4)(j) For any other reason, the work...

 

Travel time

An offer of work should generally not be deemed suitable for PP recipients if the journey, either from the PP recipient's home to the place of work or from the place of work to the person's home (including the time to travel to and from child care where relevant) would normally exceed 60 minutes in duration. However a person may voluntarily choose to accept a job offer where the commuting exceeds 60 minutes. Conversely, in some circumstances, a journey of a lesser duration than 60 minutes may be considered excessive travel time. These circumstances could include:

  • where the hours of work are of quite limited duration, for example a 3 hour shift, or
  • where part-time work is spread over 5 or more days and thus the travel must be undertaken 5 or more days a week, or
  • where care arrangements can only be organised if a shorter travel time is undertaken.

 

Determination as to whether the travel time is 'reasonable' in these cases should give primary regard to what would be considered reasonable by the public. When assessing these cases, care should be taken to ensure that the situation has NOT been contrived for the purpose of avoiding accepting an offer of paid work. All methods and routes of transport, and care options should be considered.

Example 1: Fiona has a job offer for 15 hours a week located 15 kilometres away (north from her home) and the only available child care for her son, Jack aged 7 years, is located 2 kilometres (south from her home). Fiona does not have a car and has to rely on public transport. She would not be required to accept this offer if the time to travel to work (including the time to travel via child care) is longer than 60 minutes each way.

 

Example 2: Patricia has a daughter Angela, aged 6 years. She receives an offer of part-time employment of 20 hours per week working at a retail clothing store, and some of the work will be outside of normal school hours. She has been able to find a formal outside school hours care service with available places, but this is a distance of 15 kilometres from Angela's school, and it would take Patricia 75 minutes to take Angela to care and to work each way. In this situation, the job offer is not suitable, and Patricia is not required to accept the job offer.

 

Act reference: SSAct section 502(4)(g) Unreasonable commuting

 

Reasonable cost of travel

Where a principal carer parent recipient receives an offer of work and the cost of travel (additional and due directly to the employment) by the person's normal and most cost effective mode of transportation to and from work after any assistance provided by their employment services provider, for example, through the Employment Pathway Fund will exceed 10 per cent of the gross wage to be gained from that work, the cost of that travel should be considered unreasonable and the offer of work deemed unsuitable. The person will indicate to the delegate if they are receiving any assistance with travel.

 

Travel costs incurred by the PP recipient of up to and including 10 per cent of the gross wage are considered reasonable.

 

Note: Only direct additional travel costs are to be estimated or calculated by the delegate. This includes petrol, public transport fares such as buses, trains or trams. Taxi costs would only be used where there is no other alternative form of transport for the person. If the person has access to other forms of transport (such as trains) then taxis are not considered the most effective form of transport. Costs not to be included are parking costs and toll fees.

Example: Valerie is in receipt of PPS with a child aged 7. She is offered a job of 2 days a week of 30 hours a fortnight (15 hours a week) beginning at 9am and finishing at 5pm. The gross wage for Valerie's new job is $478.80 a fortnight. Valerie is able to organise after school care for her child at their school. The most effective mode of transport for Valerie is driving her child to school and then on to work. As Valerie must travel via the school on her way to work to drop off her child at approved care, the side trip should be included in determining the expected additional costs of travel related directly to an acceptance of the job offer. Petrol costs associated with taking the job (including that part of the trip to drop her child off and pick them up) are expected to be $30 a fortnight. As the transport costs are below 10 per cent of her gross wage the job is suitable for Valerie on the basis of this test.

 

Financial suitability of a job

No principal carer parent is required to accept a job offer or continue in a job which fails to make them financially better off compared to not doing the job. If a principal carer parent is not at least $50.00 per fortnight better off than if they did not accept or continue in that job, then the parent is able to decline the job offer or leave the job. A financial suitability test is available to providers and job seekers on the DHS website as part of the rate estimator.

 

The following items should be taken into account by DHS (and employment services providers) in assessing whether a job is financially suitable:

  • gross wages from the job,
  • personal income tax liabilities,
  • the drop in income support payment as a result of the earned income,
  • out of pocket child care costs incurred in order to undertake the work (after taking into account JET child care fee assistance and the child care benefit and/or assistance such as through the Employment Pathway Fund), and
  • travel costs to and from work (after taking into account any assistance that may be provided by the Employment Pathway Fund and noting the reasonable costs of travel test described above), and
  • any increase in public housing rent (ONLY if the parent is living in state government subsidised or provided public housing and either on NSA, YA (job seeker) or SpB.

 

If, after taking these factors into account, the PP recipient was not at least $50.00 per fortnight better off than if they did not accept or continue in that job, then the delegate must allow the parent to decline the job offer or to leave the job. The PP recipient must then search for another job that is either closer to home or at least had cheaper travel costs, required lower or no child care costs, was for more hours per week, or more money per hour (or some combinations of those factors).

 

In many instances public housing rent will only actually increase some months after a parent begins part-time work. However, in Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia increases in public housing rent may occur from the day from which the parent begins earning additional income. In these states, the delegate should factor in 25% of the difference between the maximum rate of PP and the combined total of the part-rate PP and gross fortnightly earnings. This should be used as the indicative amount by which their public housing rent will increase within the next complete fortnight. For PP recipients in all other states and territories, increases in public housing rents are only to be taken into account in any particular application of this test if the PP recipient can provide documentation that their rent will increase within the next complete fortnight (or if the rent has already increased on or before the date of the test due to the paid part-time work). If a rent increase is to take effect after the next complete fortnight then no increase can be taken into account within the public housing component of the financial suitability test as applied at that point in time.

 

In these instances the PP recipient should be advised that if they are concerned about the financial suitability of the job when their public housing rent does increase they may return to DHS to have their job assessed under this test again. If the job fails the financial suitability test then the job is no longer suitable and the person may leave the job without penalty. PP recipients will need to be advised by the delegate that they will need to provide DHS with documentation from the relevant State/Territory authority indicating:

  • the previous/current amount of rent payable,
  • the increased amount of rent payable (due to the employment income), and
  • the date from which the increased rent amount will be payable.

 

Note: It is up to the PP recipient to return to DHS and ask for the test to be re-applied if their rent increases due to earnings from the job or for any other reason that might affect the financial suitability of the job.

Example: Adana is living in Queensland and in receipt of PPS and is offered a job of 20 hours a week for a gross wage of $510.00 a fortnight. Her fortnightly travel costs are $46.50 which is less than 10 per cent of her gross fortnightly wage. She can receive JET child care fee assistance which means she only pays $40 a fortnight for outside school hours care for her 2 children (40 hours of care over the fortnight x 2 children x 1 dollar). Also taking into account the impact of the offered work on her rate of PPS (a loss of $123.52 per fortnight) her increased rent in public housing rent (due to begin within the next complete fortnight from the date of applying the test and amounting to $65.00 per fortnight) and personal income tax liabilities ($47.94 per fortnight), Adana is assessed as $187.04 a fortnight better off than if she did not accept the job. From a financial viability point of view, the job is suitable and Adana would be required to accept the job.

 

Note: If the increase in Adana's public housing rent will not take place in the next complete fortnight following the date of applying the financial suitability test then this should not be included in the application of the financial suitability test at that point in time. Adana should be informed that she could choose to return for a re-application of the financial suitability test when she receives official notification that the rent increase will occur within the next complete fortnight. However, if Adana lived in Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia or Western Australia, then an increase in public housing rent for the next complete fortnight should be included as follows:

Rent increase = 25% of [(part-rate of PPS + gross fortnightly earnings) - maximum rate of PPS].

 

Financial Suitability Test for Adana as described below:

Gross Fortnightly Wage

$510.00

less

Personal income tax liabilities

$47.94

Drop in PPS

$123.52

Out of Pocket Child Care Costs

$40.00

Travel Costs

$46.50

Increase in Public Housing Rent

$65.00

results in

Amount better off per fortnight

$187.04

Note: This is for illustrative purposes only and these calculations have been made on the basis of PPS, the National Minimum Wage and tax rates as at 20 September 2012.

 

Costs outside the scope of this financial suitability of the job test include:

  • any changes to FTB (Parts A and B) due to the employment income,
  • any changes to RA payable due to the employment income, and
  • changes to any other State Government subsidies or forms of financial assistance due to the employment income,
  • the eventual loss of concession cards after any relevant periods of continuation or extension, if the employment income is above the amount required to take the PP recipient fully off income support, and
  • the child care rebate.

 

Note: Other miscellaneous costs of accepting a job offer of suitable part-time work (such as buying appropriate clothes, a uniform or other job related equipment) will not be included in this determination, PP recipients may be able to at least partly defray these costs by assessing funds available under the EPP and/or the assistance provided by the employment services provider, such as the Employment Pathway Fund.

 

Exception: If a PP recipient also has a partial capacity to work due to a disability (as assessed by an ESAt/JCA) and they have costs in moving into employment not otherwise offset by other assistance (e.g. through the Workplace-Modifications Scheme) then these costs should also be factored into the calculation described above (i.e. they must be at least $50 a fortnight better off once these additional costs are also factored in).

 

In some limited circumstances the next complete fortnight might not be the most appropriate period for assessing whether the job is financially suitable. This could include instances where a PP recipient is taking up a job that involves work that has variable hours/shifts that are known beforehand and which would affect earned income significantly. For example, they may be working shift work and this might mean the person will have significantly higher earned income one fortnight compared to the next. In these instances, the delegate is able to consider a longer period of up to 4 weeks and use this period to consider whether the person is financially better off over the month (rather than the next complete fortnight). The use of this approach should be the exception rather than the rule.

 

Any other matters that the Secretary considers relevant in the circumstances

Without being prescriptive, additional issues not directly addressed above may be considered in determining whether work is 'suitable' (including financially suitable) where there are exceptional circumstances - (e.g. beyond the range of what could be considered usual) or special hardship cases. Before making a determination, the customer service adviser (CSA) should seek advice from NSO, who will consult with DEEWR.

 

Could a suitable job become unsuitable at a later date?

After a PP recipient has accepted a job offer of suitable part-time work, circumstances may change which could mean the work becomes unsuitable over time. For instance, the hours of work may change or high demand for vacation child care places during a period of school holidays could mean the PP recipient may be unable to access appropriate care and supervision of their child/ren during the hours they would be expected to work. Factors such as these would render the job unsuitable and it would be inappropriate to penalise the PP recipient in these circumstances for leaving that work. In this circumstance, the PP recipient should be re-connected with their employment services provider to help them search for other suitable work if they have voluntarily ceased participating in those services while undertaking the work.

 

Inability to accept an offer of suitable work because child care has not been organised

The obligation for PP recipients to organise appropriate care and supervision for their child/ren in order to accept an offer of suitable work will be included as an activity in PP recipient's EPP. If a PP recipient has not organised appropriate care and supervision of their child/ren despite the availability approved child care places during the times they would be required to work and as a result they cannot accept a job offer for work that is otherwise suitable, then their failure to accept the job offer will be treated as a participation failure.

 

A job seeker who refuses a suitable job without a reasonable excuse may have an 8-week penalty imposed. Before imposing an 8-week penalty for refusing an offer of a suitable job the decision maker must consider carefully whether or not the work was suitable (1.1.U.55) and, if it was suitable, if the job seeker had a reasonable excuse for refusing it.

 

If, after accepting an offer of suitable work during a school term, the PP recipient fails to organise access to available and affordable formal child care places, such as vacation care places or arrange other forms of appropriate care and supervision during the times they would be at work and therefore are unable to continue working, then this should also be treated as a participation failure.

 

Work offers to parents in school holidays

Suitable work for parents applies when appropriate care and supervision of the child/ren is available during the hours the job seeker would be required for work. This applies in normal school hours. However, during school holidays it is dependent on the availability of suitable child care.

Example: Ramona is a single parent and has a daughter Janeth age 7. Ramona is offered a job in her local supermarket for regular work from 9am to 12pm each week day (including during school holidays). This is suitable work for Ramona, and she would be required to accept the job offer and investigate the availability of suitable child care during the school holidays. If either suitable child care or acceptable informal care arrangements are available in the school holidays the job offer is a suitable job.

 

Voluntary work

In some circumstances, voluntary work can be used on its own or in combination with other approved activities to meet a PP recipient's participation requirements. PP recipients must enter into an EPP and obtain approval from their employment services provider for the community/voluntary work they wish to undertake. More details for those over 55 years are outlined in the section below 'Voluntary work for PP recipients 55 years & over'. For those under 55 years details are outlined in 3.2.9.130.

 

If voluntary work is one of the activities outlined in a PP recipient's EPP the recipient must remain connected to an employment services provider and accept any suitable offers of employment.

Example: Tahania is a PP recipient with a daughter Donna, aged 6, who attends the local school. Tahania wants to undertake volunteer work on a regular basis at the school tuck shop for 15 hours per week. She feels work in the tuck shop would enable her to build skills to enter the paid workforce. Her employment services provider agrees and counts this voluntary work towards meeting her mandatory participation requirements.

 

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.2.9.130 Suitable Activity - Voluntary Work

 

Voluntary work for PP recipients 55 years & over

PP recipients who are 55 years or more of age are taken to satisfy their participation requirements in full if they undertake 30 or more hours of voluntary work, or a combination of voluntary and paid work 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 fortnights, they will be considered to no longer be fully meeting their requirements. They will be referred to an appropriate employment services provider and be required to meet other participation requirements. It would be expected that they would have more formal job search requirements placed in their EPP.

 

Self-employment & suitable work

If a PP recipient wishes to satisfy their mandatory participation requirements in full by undertaking self-employment then they must be earning equivalent to or greater than that of 15 hours of work paid at the minimum wage each week. A PP recipient with earnings from self-employment below this amount will have to undertake other activities to meet their participation requirements. Depending on the nature of the self-employment an employment services provider may agree to take this work into account when negotiating the PP recipient's EPP.

 

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.5.1.85 Qualification for PP during Self-employment, 3.2.2.20 Current Working Arrangements

 

Participation requirements & suitable work for ministers of religion & their partners

Ministers of religion receiving PP will be subject to part-time participation requirements. That is, they are subject to an obligation to seek suitable paid part-time work of at least 15 hours per week.

 

They will be regarded as satisfying their part-time participation requirements in full by undertaking at least 15 hours of paid pastoral work a week for their religious organisation. However, the amount of remuneration received does not have to be at least at the National Minimum Wage. They will be required to show evidence (e.g. a letter) that they are working at least 15 paid hours per week as a Minister for a religious organisation.

 

Remuneration & hours of work

Where a PP recipient is already working, but for less than 15 hours a week and therefore still has job search requirements, a job offer should be accepted if the total pay as well as the total hours from the employment is higher than the existing job. A person would not have to accept a job offer if the total earnings from the new job are less than the total earnings from the existing job. However if the rate of pay of the new job (e.g. hourly rate) is lower than the existing job's rate of pay, but the increase in hours will mean that a person has greater income overall, they are still required to accept the job.

Explanation: A person should not be financially disadvantaged through accepting a job offer, if it will force them to give up another, higher-paying (in terms of total pay) job.

 

Example 1: Jennifer currently has employment of 12 hours per week tutoring students at her local TAFE (where she is undertaking part-time training in horticulture). She is also offered 20 hours per week employment at a local retail variety store. In total, these 2 jobs would amount to 30 hours employment per week, beyond the suitable part-time work requirements outlined earlier in this topic. Jennifer could give up her TAFE employment to accept the retail job, and this would enable her to satisfy her job search and participation requirements. Suitable formal child care is available to support this change. However, Jennifer would earn less from the (longer hours) retail job than she would from the tutoring position. In this case, the retail job offer is not deemed suitable as Jennifer would be financially disadvantaged through accepting the offer. However, since she is not yet undertaking work of at least 15 hours per week, Jennifer will still be required to search for alternative or additional employment to make up the deficit.

 

Example 2: Mikki has employment of 13 hours per week at her local supermarket. She loves working with the people at the supermarket and is happy with the $16 per hour pay. She has recently received another job offer at another store, for a higher rate of pay and for 15 hours a week. Mikki is very happy in her current job working at the supermarket, and does not want to accept the new job offer (despite its higher rate of pay and slightly longer hours). Mikki would be required to accept the new job offer at the other store because it is for 15 hours with higher total pay.

 

Example 3: Melih is working 12 hours a week as a truck driver for a gardening landscaper. He is offered another job of 16 hours a week as a storeman. Melih's current job as a truck driver pays better than the stores work so even though the stores work is more hours he still is $20 a week better off in his current job. As he would be financially worse off if he accepted the storeman job it is not considered to be suitable work. However, since Melih is not yet undertaking work of at least 15 hours per week, he will still be required to search for alternative or additional employment to make up the deficit.

 

Where a PP recipient is already working part-time and they receive a job offer of greater total pay but lesser hours and the parent cannot be required to undertake both jobs, then the PP recipient can choose to either accept the second job offer and leave the former job or reject the job offer while remaining in the first job.

Note: If the former job satisfies the PP recipient's participation requirements in full and the second job does not, they may choose to leave the first job and accept the second only if the amount of income support payable concurrent with the second job will be a lesser amount than the average fortnightly payment payable while the parent is undertaking the first job. It should also be noted, however, that the PP recipient will need to undertake, at minimum, a job search component in addition to the second job in this scenario in order to satisfy their participation requirements.

 

Suitable work conflicts with training &/or study

While PP recipients, like all job seekers, are required to accept suitable work to the level of their capacity, those who are undertaking approved part-time, less than 30 hours per fortnight, education or training are not required to accept offers of employment if the hours of work conflict with the hours of study so long as the education or training is included in their EPP. PP recipients undertaking approved part-time study, of less than 30 hours per fortnight, are required to accept suitable offers of part-time employment where the hours of work would fit around their study schedule.

 

PP recipients who are fully meeting requirements through approved study or training of at least 30 hours per fortnight, and who have the activity included in their EPP, are not required to look for or accept offers of employment however they may do so voluntarily.

Example: Sarah is undertaking a child care worker certificate II course. This is an approved activity in her EPP. She is required to attend TAFE 5 mornings a week from 9am till 12 noon. She is offered paid work 2 full days per week. Although the job is otherwise suitable, Sarah has a reasonable excuse for not accepting this job as it will interfere with her capacity to complete her training. Sarah can choose not to accept the job or to accept the job and renegotiate her TAFE attendance times.

 

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.2.9.100 Suitable Activity - Study & Training, 3.5.1.180 Suitable Activity - Study (PP)

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Last reviewed: 20 September 2013


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Last Edited: 30/08/2013 4:10:18 PM


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