Assistant Minister for Employment Luke Hartsuyker today introduced legislation to ensure more job seekers are meeting their mutual obligation requirements at every step of the job-seeking process.
The Social Security Legislation Amendment (Further Strengthening Job Seeker Compliance) Bill 2015 introduces more immediate consequences and stronger penalties for job seekers who fail to undertake tasks such as look for work, participate in activities and accept a suitable job offer.
The changes introduced by the Bill build upon the successful ‘no show no pay’ reforms agreed by the Parliament last year that have seen job seeker attendance rates at reconnection appointments increase from 65% to more than 90%.
Minister Hartsuyker said the no show no pay approach provides a simpler and clearer set of rules for job seekers to understand and ensures more people meet their mutual obligation requirements as expected.
The Bill will ensure that job seekers enter into a Job Plan, meet their job search requirements, participate in activities like training and Work for the Dole, take their appointments with their employment providers seriously and accept the offer of a suitable job.
Mr Hartsuyker said that taxpayers expected job seekers to meet all of their mutual obligation requirements and that there was community concern that current rules made it too easy for a job seeker to choose welfare instead of accepting a job.
“It is a fundamental principle of our social security system that people who have been offered a suitable job should accept that job rather than rely on welfare.
“This principle reflects the fact that Australia’s income support system is there as a safety net for people who genuinely cannot find a job – as opposed to an option for those who simply refuse to work.
“Unfortunately, the changes introduced by the previous Government allowed job seekers who refuse a job without a good excuse to have their financial penalty waived simply by agreeing to do extra activities.
“It is clear that these rules are not working.
“In 2009-10, when the waiver provisions were first introduced, only 45 per cent of penalties for refusing a suitable job were waived. By comparison, 78 per cent of penalties were waived in 2013-14”.
“The current rules no longer provide a sufficient deterrent to refusing work because job seekers know they are able to keep their payment with virtually no consequence”.
Mr Hartsuyker said the Bill maintains the existing safeguards and protections for vulnerable job seekers and the reasonable excuse provisions for job seekers who cannot meet their requirements through no fault of their own.
“I acknowledge the support of the Labor Party for the successful reforms introduced last year and look forward to their continued support to create a simpler and more effective job seeker compliance framework” Mr Hartsuyker said.