Release type: Media Release

Date:

Stronger approach to job seeker appointments passes Parliament

Ministers:

The Hon Luke Hartsuyker MP
Assistant Minister for Employment

Assistant Minister for Employment Luke Hartsuyker has welcomed the passage through the Parliament of the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Job Seeker Compliance Framework) Bill 2014.

The Bill introduces new rules to ensure more job seekers on income support attend their compulsory appointments with their employment providers.

Mr Hartsuyker said the Government’s reforms will improve attendance rates by providing stronger incentives for job seekers to meet their mutual-obligation requirements.

“Employment providers have told me that the sheer number of missed appointments is costing them too much in terms of time and money,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

“In 2013-14, job seekers missed a staggering 4.5 million appointments with their employment providers.

“This is 35 per cent of all scheduled appointments.

“The Government was not prepared to let this situation continue and has introduced new rules to ensure more job seekers do the right thing first time and attend their compulsory appointments, or pick up the phone ahead of time and reschedule.

“This is the same standard of behaviour that is expected of a worker if they can’t make it to work, and it is an important principle that the same standard applies to job seekers in receipt of taxpayer-funded income support.”

The Bill introduces two sets of changes.

From 1 January 2015, if a job seeker misses an appointment with their employment provider without a reasonable excuse, their income-support payment will be suspended until they actually attend the next appointment.

From 1 July 2015, if a person misses an appointment with their employment provider without a reasonable excuse, their income-support payment will also be reduced for the period from when they are notified of their failure to attend until they actually attend the next appointment.

The existing safeguards for vulnerable job seekers and the reasonable-excuse provisions will continue to apply, and the current practice of employment providers being required to offer an appointment to a job seeker within two working days of a request will also continue.

Providers will also be able to offer phone interviews to assist job seekers to quickly re-engage and meet their requirements.

“This Bill delivers on the Government’s commitment to strengthen the rules around job seeker compliance, and reduce red tape and costs for employment providers,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

“It will ensure that more job seekers remain engaged with their employment providers and receive the help they need to improve their chances of finding and keeping a job.

“I welcome the support of the Parliament for the substance of the Government’s reforms.

“The changes to be introduced will improve attendance rates by job seekers through clearer rules for all job seekers and appropriate penalties for those people who do not take their obligations seriously.”