Disability Employment Services Mutual Obligations explained

If you're receiving JobSeeker payments from Centrelink, you'll need to meet a set of Mutual Obligation Requirements while participating in Disability Employment Services. Here's what you need to know.

Participants of Disability Employment Services need to meet Mutual Obligation Requirements to keep receiving JobSeeker payments each fortnight.

This means doing particular tasks and activities that help improve your chances of getting a job.

For example, applying for jobs, attending job interviews or undergoing a training course.

The particular tasks and activities you're required to do depend on your situation and your Job Plan.

In this guide, we explain what Disability Employment Services Mutual Obligation Requirements are, how they're determined and what to do if you can't meet your requirements.

For more information, contact APM on 1800 276 276.

What are Mutual Obligation Requirements?

Mutual Obligation Requirements are the things you have to do to keep receiving fortnightly income support payments from Centrelink.

You'll need to meet your Mutual Obligation Requirements every fortnight to keep receiving your payments.

Your Mutual Obligation Requirements are determined by your age, your capacity to work and whether you're the primary carer for a child.

You may be given full-time requirements or part-time requirements, depending on your situation.

Mutual Obligations may include things like:

  • Following the Job Plan that you create with your Disability Employment Services provider
  • Attending all appointments with Services Australia and your Disability Employment Services provider
  • Attending job interviews and following up on job referrals
  • Searching and applying for jobs
  • Doing other activities which help you improve your chances of getting a job

What activities can you do to meet your Mutual Obligations?

Depending on your circumstances, there is a range of different types of activities you can do to meet your Mutual Obligation Requirements.

Approved activities will be included in your Job Plan.

Examples of activities that may help you meet your requirements include:

  • National Work Experience Program (NWEP) – voluntary short-term work experience placements for participants over 25 years old.
  • PaTH Internship Placements – internship placements for participants aged between 17 and 24 years old after 6 months in Disability Employment Services, Workforce Australia or Transition to Work.
  • Observational Work Experience (OWE) – unpaid short-term observational work experience placements for participants 15 years and older.
  • Study and Training – study and courses included in your Job Plan. These must be approved by your Disability Employment Services provider in order to count towards your Mutual Obligation Requirements.

What if you can't meet your Mutual Obligation Requirements?

If you can't meet your Mutual Obligation Requirements, Services Australia may reduce your requirements to fit your current capacity.

In some cases, if you're temporarily unable to meet your requirements, you may be eligible for an exemption.

An exemption means you don't have to participate in job search activities for a specific period of time.

Examples of when an exemption might apply include:

  • Medical issues
  • Serious illness
  • Pregnancy and birth
  • Family and Domestic violence
  • A child living with disability
  • Other special circumstances

If you're finding that you can't meet your obligations, you can talk to your Disability Employment Services provider or contact Services Australia to see if you're eligible for an exemption.

To get an exemption, you will need to provide evidence that supports your claim.

What happens if you don't meet your obligations?

If you don't meet your Mutual Obligation Requirements, your payment may be suspended and you may receive a demerit.

To start getting payments again, you'll need to speak with your provider.

If your provider decides you don't have a reasonable excuse for not meeting your obligations, they will give you a demerit.

If you get three demerits in six months, you'll need to have a meeting with your provider.

In this meeting, your provider will talk with you about your capacity and why you might not be meeting your obligations.

If you get five demerits in six months, you'll need to take a Capability Test with Centrelink.

The test will make sure that your Disability Employment Services Mutual Obligation Requirements are right for your situation.

Not yet a participant of Disability Employment Services?

Disability Employment Services (DES) supports people living with injury, illness or disability to find and keep a job.

The program is funded by the Australian Government, meaning eligible participants can get support at no cost to themselves.

Disability Employment Services providers like APM can help you with searching for job opportunities, planning your career and getting job ready.

We can also help you access services and ongoing support to help you succeed in the workplace.

Find out more about Disability Employment Services and whether you're eligible. Call APM on 1800 276 276.

This information is accurate as of December 2022, for more current and up to date information, please visit Services Australia who will have any updates to the current terms of service.

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