Mutual obligation Snapshot – What is a job plan?

This briefing explains what a job plan is and analyses data collected by ACOSS* on the requirements in job plans.

Job plans are documents that capture what steps people using employment services will take to get a job. These are listed in job plans in terms of compulsory mutual obligation requirements and other activities that might be discussed between people and their employment consultants at appointments, or online.

People can look at their job plan on the job seeker dashboard online.

The requirement to sign a job plan is a condition of receiving unemployment payments. Not signing a job plan results in payment suspensions and the cancellation of payments after 28 days. People are supposed have 48 hours ‘think time’ to sign the job plan from the date of their first appointment with a provider, or from when a variation to the job plan has been discussed.

The job plan contains a written warning about the penalties that might apply if it is not met. These penalties are applied through the Targeted Compliance Framework (link to TCF snapshot here).

What’s in a job plan?

The activities that are available for job plans are determined by the Department of Employment and usually include mandatory activities such as the minimum number of appointments the job seeker must attend a month, looking for a job, accepting job interviews and attending activities that are supposed to help them get a job.

Most people have very similar requirements in their job plans. The chart below shows how many people we surveyed agreed that their job plan had the standard requirements as listed below.

There is very limited choice about job plan requirements as the chart below shows.

This is a source of dissatisfaction with employment services, and people tell ACOSS that they would prefer to have more choice about what goes into their job plan.

ACOSS view on job plans

ACOSS is concerned about the lack of flexibility in job plans, and the extent to which people get to genuinely choose what they will do in relation to finding a job. For example, our research shows that most people had a high number of job searches to do (between 15-20) and that this level of job search was higher than most people thought reasonable.

Similarly, people report that their job plans do not accommodate their needs such as having reduced capacity to participate because of disability, being a parent or carer, being mature aged or living in an area with fewer jobs.

ACOSS view on inflexible job plan requirements

It is ACOSS’s view that activity hours should be automatically reduced for people with reduced capacity (e.g. by halving job search targets). This could be further reduced depending on individual circumstances.

We are also concerned that some of the standard ‘options’ for regular activities beyond job search (Work for the Dole and Employability Skills Training for example) are often of little or no use to people and do not take individual needs into account.

More information and resources on how to manage your job plan

The Department of Employment, Skills and Education publishes some “how to” guides here.

If you are unable to complete the job searches in your job plan you should let your provider or the Digital Contact Centre know.

* ACOSS Voices of Unemployment survey 2022

Related information

ACOSS Voices of Unemployment 2018