The Morrison Government today announced a suite of adjustments to the current employment services system which align and enhance the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new arrangements ratify and bolster a pre-existing direction by Government to employment service providers to be more flexible during this challenging period.
The Government has announced a number of changes to mutual obligation requirements to reduce or eliminate the need for face-to-face contact, when requested by a job seeker or job service provider. The changes include:
- Job seekers will have the option to request that face to face meetings with their job service providers take place over the phone or via an online channel such as Skype;
- Job seekers will be able to complete activities such as online training, creating job plans, writing a CV and preparing job applications online;
- Job Plans will be adjusted to a default requirement of four job searches a month (or fewer, at provider discretion) to reflect the softening labour market conditions.
- Work for the Dole and other activities delivered in group settings that cannot be delivered online will be suspended until further notice;
- Jobs Fairs and other large events will be postponed;
- Job service providers will be required to perform new risk assessments for a range of activities like Youth Jobs PaTH internships.
The Minister for Employment, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash said mutual obligations would remain in place for as long as compatible with the advice of health authorities.
“These changes prioritise the welfare of job seekers but will also help keep those out of work actively engaged and supported to take up critical jobs in demand now, and when the economy recovers,” she said.
Job seekers will still be required to attend any scheduled job interviews and take up offers of suitable work, with existing compliance penalties applied where this does not occur.
These changes will ensure people who are out of work can reliably receive income support and are safely engaged and supported to get a job, whilst supporting employers’ to protect their workforce and viability.
The Department of Education, Skills and Employment will also write to employment services CEOs to outline the critical role providers will play in the weeks and months ahead to ensure workforce demands can be met where required.
Minister Cash said continuing mutual obligations under significantly more flexible arrangements strikes the balance between ensuring Australians are kept safe and keeping jobseekers and engaged with the labour market and ready for work.