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Jobs & benefits

Types of main benefits

You’re looking for work, or you can’t work right now

Qualifying for Jobseeker Support

Do I qualify for Jobseeker Support?

You can apply for Jobseeker Support if:

  • you are 18 or older, and
  • you’re either:
    • not in full-time work, but available and looking for work (“the work test” – see below), or
    • in part-time work and looking for more work, or
    • temporarily unable to look for work and/or work full-time, due to a health condition (a “medical deferral” from the work test)

If you are a single parent and your youngest child is under 14, you will qualify for sole parent support instead (see: “You’re a teenage parent (Young Parent Payment)“).

What is the “work-test”?

Social Security Act 2018, ss 141, 144, 146, 147, 153, 154, 161, 233

To receive Jobseeker Support, you (and your partner, if you have one) must:

  • be available for and looking for full-time work (30 hours or more),
  • be available for courses and other activities that are intended to improve your ability to find employment, and
  • be applying for suitable jobs and going to job interviews, and
  • accept any suitable job offers, including temporary, seasonal or subsidised work.

If you can’t meet the work-test (for example, if you can’t attend a course, or turn down a job offer, or refuse to apply for a particular job) you need to be able to show a “good and sufficient” reason why you couldn’t comply.

You’ll likely have to provide proof. For example, if you can’t attend a course because you were unwell, you’ll likely have to provide a medical certificate.

If you don’t have a good and sufficient reason, you might not qualify for Jobseeker, or you might not be given it for 13 weeks (“13 week non-entitlement period”), or have your benefit reduced or stopped (see: “Trouble with Work and Income: Penalties, investigations and overpayments).

Tip:   You can reduce the 13 week non-entitlement period by taking part in a six week ‘re-compliance activity’ with Work and Income. Your benefit can start from the day you start this activity.

How soon can I get Jobseeker Support after leaving my job?

If you’ve been employed, but you left that job voluntarily, you won’t be able to get Jobseeker Support for 13 weeks (“13 week non-entitlement period”).

However, you can argue that you had a “good and sufficient” reason for leaving your job (see: “Key words”).

Can I get Jobseeker Support if I was fired?

Social Security Act 2018, s 225

If you’ve been employed, but you were dismissed for misconduct, you won’t be able to get Jobseeker Support for 13 weeks (“13 week non-entitlement period”).

The 13 week non-entitlement period won’t apply if you’re disputing your dismissal for example, if you’re lodging a personal grievance. For more information on lodging a personal grievance, see: “Resolving employment problems. Be aware:

  • If your dispute is successful, and you get compensation from your employer, this might count as income and reduce your benefit.
  • If your dispute is unsuccessful, you might have to pay back the benefit you received during those 13 weeks.

What is considered a “good and sufficient” reason to leave your job, be dismissed, or decline a job offer?

Work and Income will make this decision on a case-by-case basis. Any decision they make must be reasonable, and they should take into account:

  • your wider circumstances,
  • your reasons for leaving your job or not accepting a job,
  • your employer’s side of the story (although they can’t talk to your employer without your permission), and/or
  • holistic and cultural factors.

Examples of a “good and sufficient” reason to leave your job include:

  • the impact on your mental health (supported by a health professional),
  • changes in your employment conditions, or
  • family circumstances disrupting your ability to work.

What’s a “medical deferral” from the work-test?

Social Security Act 2018, s 155

You can apply for the work-test requirements to be suspended (“deferred”) if, due to a health condition, you’re temporarily unable to comply with your work-test requirements.

A health practitioner will decide how long the work-test will be suspended. Usually you can see your own health practitioner, but Work and Income can require you to see a different one, from a panel of doctors called “designated doctors” who assess work capacity.

What if I have young children?

Social Security Act 2018, Sched 2 (definitions of “part-time work,” “part-time work-tested beneficiary,” “work-tested spouse or partner”), ss 121–125

If you’re a single parent and you have children, your work-test obligations will depend on the age of your youngest child:

  • If your youngest child is 14 or older, you’ll be required to be available for, and looking for, full-time work (at least 30 hours a week – this is the “full-time work-test”).
  • If your youngest child is under 14, you’ll be transferred to Sole Parent Support and you won’t have to be available for, or looking for, work until your youngest child is three years old.

If you take on the care of another child while you’re getting Jobseeker Support (for example, if you give birth or adopt a child) your work-test obligations will change depending on the age of your now-youngest child.

What if I have a partner – do they have to comply with the work-test?

Social Security Act 2018, ss 121, 129, 140, 166, 167

If you don’t have dependent children, your partner will also have to be available for, and looking for, full-time work (the “full-time work-test”).

If you have children under 14, either you or your partner will have to meet the full-time work test. The other person’s work test will depend on the age of your youngest child. For example, if you meet the full-time work test, then:

  • If your youngest child is 14 or older, your partner will also be required to meet the full-time work test.
  • If your youngest child is three or older but under 14, your partner will be required to be available for and looking for part-time work, which means at least 20 hours a week (the “part-time work test”).
  • If your youngest child is under three, your partner might have to occasionally take part in work preparation activities (e.g., training or education).

If your partner is aged 16 to 19, they don’t have to meet the same work-testing requirements. Instead, the requirements that apply to teenagers getting the Youth Payment or Young Parent Payment will apply.

Did this answer your question?

Dealing with Work and Income

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Ministry of Social Development – Work and Income (WINZ)

See Work and Income’s website for information on whether you qualify for a benefit and how to apply for them.

Website: www.workandincome.govt.nz
Phone:  0800 559 009

Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP)

AAAP is a free nationwide advocacy service for people dealing with Work and Income.

Website: www.aaap.org.nz
Email: advocates@aaap.org.nz
Instagram: www.instagram.com/aucklandactionagainstpoverty
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAAPNZ/

Helpful resources for beneficiaries: www.aaap.org.nz/resources

Beneficiaries Advocacy and Information Services (BAIS)

BAIS provides free advocacy and support for beneficiaries and low-income families in Auckland’s North Shore, Rodney and Hibiscus Coast districts.

Website: www.bais.org.nz
Phone: 09 444 9543
Instagram: www.instagram.com/bais.northshoreandrodney
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BAISnorthshoreandrodey   

Hutt Valley Benefit Education Service Trust (HV BEST)

The HV BEST provides information and support to beneficiaries in the Hutt Valley. 

Website: www.hvbest.co.nz
Email: hvbest@xtra.co.nz
Phone: 04 529 8108

Beneficiaries & Unwaged Workers Trust (BUWT)

BUWT provides information, advice and support to people on low incomes in Nelson.

Website: www.buwt.wordpress.com
Email: buwtcs@xtra.co.nz
Phone: 03 548 8171
Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/282105670089970/?locale=pt_PT

Beneficiary Advisory Service (BAS)

The BAS provides information and support to beneficiaries in Christchurch.

Website: www.bas.org.nz
Email: bas.cprc@gmail.com
Phone: 0800 00 00 43
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BeneficiaryAdvisoryService

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)

CAB provides free, confidential and independent information and advice. See CAB’s website for valuable information on a range of topics.

Website: www.cab.org.nz
Phone: 0800 367 222
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/citizensadvicenz

Find your local CAB office: www.cab.org.nz/find-a-cab

Zero Data

Zero Data is a new digital support that allows anyone with a mobile device, phone or tablet to access essential Government information for free. No data is used.

Website: www.zero.govt.nz

What do I need do I need for it to work?

  •  The device is on.
  •  The device is connected to Spark, Skinny One NZ, 2Degrees, Slingshot or Orcon.

You can access information from the following agencies:

  • Te Manatū Whakahiato Ora | Ministry of Social Development
  • Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga | Ministry of Education
  • Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs
  • Te Whatu Ora | Health New Zealand
  • Kāinga Ora | Homes & Communities
  • Te Tāhū o te Ture | Ministry of Justice
  • Te Kaporeihana Āwhina Hunga Whara | Accident Compensation Corporation

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