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The new targeted compliance framework started 1 July 2018. As job seekers transition to the new framework, there have been many questions regarding how the system is applied. The following FAQs provide some explanation of the framework and how it practically affects job seekers.
Please note: ‘Providers’ refers to employment services providers.
What is the difference between a payment suspension and a financial penalty?
A payment will be suspended if a job seeker does not meet a requirement. As soon as a job seeker contacts their provider, and meets any re-engagement requirement given to them by their provider, their payment will be restored. This is only a temporary withholding of their payment and they will receive their full allowance once they meet their re-engagement requirement.
If they move into the Penalty Zone and do not meet a requirement without a reasonable excuse, they will receive a financial penalty. Centrelink will notify them of this. A financial penalty will not be paid back or waived. The job seeker may also receive a financial penalty if they refuse or voluntarily leave work without a valid reason.
Why is a payment suspended?
A payment is suspended if a job seeker does not complete a requirement in their Job Plan, such as attending appointments, and they do not contact their provider beforehand. As soon as they contact their provider to discuss the missed requirement, and meet any re-engagement requirement, the payment will be restored. This may take up to an hour.
If a payment is suspended will the job seeker get a demerit?
A payment will be suspended if the job seeker missed a requirement. This will not automatically mean a demerit.
If the job seeker missed a requirement and did not have a valid reason, they will accrue a demerit.
Who decides to allocate a demerit?
If a job seeker doesn’t meet their requirements and does not have a valid reason as assessed by their provider, their provider will allocate a demerit. Centrelink does not have any involvement in demerit decisions.
What if the job seeker doesn’t agree with a demerit they’ve been given?
If a job seeker disagrees with a demerit decision, they should speak to their provider first. If they cannot resolve this with their provider, the job seeker can contact the National Customer Service Line on 1800 805 260.
Who decides if a job seeker gets a financial penalty?
Only Centrelink can apply a financial penalty. A financial penalty can generally only be applied after a job seeker has accrued five demerits (in six months), has a Capability Interview with their provider and a further Capability Assessment with Centrelink.
After the Centrelink assessment, the first time the job seeker does not meet a requirement without reasonable excuse the job seeker will receive a financial penalty and lose one week’s pay. The next time the job seeker does not meet a requirement they will receive a second financial penalty: loss of two weeks’ pay. The third time the job seeker doesn’t meet the requirements their payment will be cancelled by Centrelink for a minimum period of four weeks.
If a job seeker refuses or voluntarily leaves work without a valid reason, they may also face financial penalties.
Can an employment services provider give a financial penalty?
A provider cannot give a financial penalty. Only Centrelink can give a financial penalty.
Who decides if a payment is cancelled?
Only Centrelink can cancel income support payments.
After a Capability Assessment with Centrelink, the third time the job seeker fails to meet their requirements their payment will be cancelled for four weeks. Their payment will also be cancelled for a minimum of four weeks if they refuse or voluntarily leave work without a good reason. A job seeker’s payment could also be cancelled if they have not met their re-engagement requirement within four weeks.
What do job seekers do if they cannot make an appointment or one of the requirements and have a good reason?
The job seeker should notify their provider as soon as possible beforehand, if they know that they cannot make an appointment or requirement. If the job seeker talks to their provider about their reasons before the requirement is due, they may be able to reschedule the requirement so a payment is not suspended.
What if the job seeker can’t meet their requirements because of circumstances?
Job seekers should have regular contact with their provider. It is important job seekers notify their provider if their circumstances change and they may have trouble meeting their requirements. Job seekers should speak with their provider immediately if they will not be able to meet a requirement or if they have missed a requirement.
Is there a financial penalty attached to moving into the Penalty Zone after a Capability Assessment?
No. There is no financial penalty for moving into the Penalty Zone. If a job seeker fails to meet their requirements in the Penalty Zone, or refuses or voluntarily leaves work without a reasonable excuse, then payments will be affected.
Can a job seeker appeal a financial penalty?
If a job seeker disagrees with a financial penalty decision made by Centrelink, they have the right to ask them to review the decision. If the job seeker is still not satisfied, they can appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
What should a job seeker do if they cannot report using their online dashboard or have internet or mobile phone problems or data issues?
Job seekers should talk to their provider and they can manually record attendance at requirements for them. If the job seeker cannot report their own attendance, they must contact their provider and request that attendance is recorded on their behalf.
What if the attendance app is not working at a job seeker activity?
Job seekers should call their provider and they can manually record attendance at requirements. If the job seeker cannot report their own attendance, they must contact their provider and request that attendance is recorded on their behalf.
When should a job seeker call Centrelink?
A job seeker should call Centrelink when their provider notifies them that they need to participate in a Capability Assessment. Centrelink will let the job seeker know when they need to talk to them about any penalty investigations for not meeting their requirements.
Where can a job seeker find more information?
The Department of Jobs and Small Business has information about the compliance changes in different languages. Job seekers can ask for a brochure from their provider and there are videos and information on the jobactive website at www.jobsearch.gov.au.