Workforce Australia and other services implement ‘mutual obligation requirements’

Find out what HR needs to know about the employment services' protocols

Workforce Australia and other services implement ‘mutual obligation requirements’

The government has recently announced that its various employment services started applying mutual obligation requirements on 1 August, according to a media release from the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR).

Participants across platforms are expected to comply, including those involved with Workforce Australia Online, Workforce Australia Services, ParentsNext and Disability Employment Services.

HRD previously reported on the implementation of Workforce Australia and provided a rundown of its essential features. HRD had also reported that several weeks after its launch, the government’s new employment service, Workforce Australia, received multiple complaints from jobseekers, ranging from employment agencies having “baffling obligations” to “unrealistic requirements.”

But now, through the DEWR, the government has further strengthened one of the central issues of some jobseekers and agencies. Learn about the said controversial standards and why the government finds them necessary.

What are ‘mutual obligation requirements’?

According to the department’s media release, such requirements include agreeing on a Job Plan or Participation Plan, attending provider and other compulsory appointments, following up on job referrals, attending job interviews and accepting any suitable job offer.

Participants in the said service must meet the obligations before they become due, and the department warned that compliance action may be taken “if these obligations are not met without a good reason.”

“In return for receiving certain income support payments, participants undertake tasks and activities to help them find a job. These mutual obligation requirements are agreed to as part of a Job Plan or Participation Plan (for ParentsNext participants). Workforce Australia Employment Services Providers or the department’s contact centres support participants to understand and meet their mutual obligation requirements,” the media release stated.

To fulfill their duties, participants may need to:

  • agree to a Job Plan or Participation Plan
  • meet a points-target each reporting period, including any minimum job search requirement (not for participants in Disability Employment Services or ParentsNext)
  • attend appointments
  • follow up on job referrals
  • attend job interviews
  • accept suitable paid work
  • keep an up-to-date profile (Workforce Australia Online only)

The role of the Points Based Activation System

The system gives participants “more choice and flexibility in how they can meet their mutual obligation requirements,” the government explained.

“For each reporting period, an individual will need to earn a set number of points, their points target, and can choose from a range of tasks and activities to earn those points,” it said.

Additionally, tasks and activities like completing a job application, study or training, paid work, and volunteering can count towards meeting the participant’s points target.

“To support participants transition to the Points Based Activation System, Workforce Australia Services and Workforce Australia Online participants will have a further reporting period where no compliance action will be raised for not meeting a points target. This means that compliance action for not meeting points targets will start from September 2022. All other requirements apply,” it added.

‘Not all participants have the same mutual obligation requirements’

The government emphasised that obligations may vary, and individuals can check their homepage or speak with their provider to see what applies to them.

If participants find that the requirements are not appropriate to their circumstances, they can request for them to be adjusted.

Arrangements for other programs

“Participants in Disability Employment Services, ParentsNext, Transition to Work or the Community Development Program, do not use the Points Based Activation System. They continue to report job search or activities the same way they do now,” the DEWR said.

“From 1 August 2022, participation requirements recommence for ParentsNext and Disability Employment Services. These can be tailored to individual needs by a provider. There are no changes to arrangements for Community Development Program participants,” it added.

For job seekers in NSW flood regions

“For participants in NSW flood regions, mutual obligations will remain lifted until 31 August 2022,” the department announced.

“The temporary suspension of mutual obligation requirements for participants in 37 New South Wales local government areas due to the recent rain event and flooding remains in place until 31 August 2022,” it said.

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