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If you want to claim Newstart Allowance or Youth Allowance (Jobseeker) and you’ve been employed in the 12 months before your claim, Centrelink will ask you to provide a separation certificate.
A separation certificate is a document from your employer that includes your basic employment details.
Centrelink will use a separation certificate to confirm:
In the separation certificate, Centrelink will ask your former employer:
Yes, but if you have trouble getting a separation certificate from your previous employer, you should speak to Centrelink because there may be other ways to check your details to ensure you can be paid as soon as possible.
You won’t have to provide a separation certificate if:
If you suffered sexual harassment or violence in the workplace, Centrelink can get the information it needs by:
If your previous employer has closed the business or stopped operating, Centrelink can look at other information like:
By law (under section 200 of the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999), your former employer must give you a completed separation certificate as soon as possible. There can be penalties if they don’t.
If you ask a previous employer for a separation certificate and they refuse, you should let Centrelink know. You can ask Centrelink to consider other ways of checking your details so your claim can be approved. Centrelink may agree to contact your previous employer to check your details.
It’s also ok for your previous employer to include the information Centrelink needs in a letter on company letterhead instead of on the separation certificate form.
If you lost your job (or if you resigned after being asked to resign) and your employer writes on your separation certificate you lost your job due to misconduct, then you will usually have to wait eight weeks before Centrelink pays you.
Misconduct can include:
Centrelink can decide whether your former employer’s accusations of misconduct against you are reasonable.
For example, if you refused to follow your employer’s direction to perform electrical work when you didn’t have relevant qualifications or licences, your refusal would not be considered misconduct.
Being fired because you do not have the ability to do the job would not normally be considered to be misconduct.
Centrelink must also decide whether your job was suitable for you. If your job was unsuitable, talk to Centrelink about it. If you have any evidence, like a doctor’s letter, make sure you give this to Centrelink.
Work is ‘unsuitable’ if:
Note: If your employer writes on your separation certificate your employment ended because of misconduct, this does not affect your rights under employment law. You should get separate advice about this. See the back page for a list of organisations that can help.
If Centrelink decides you have to wait eight weeks before getting paid, you should appeal the decision and get advice as soon as possible. See the back page for a list of organisations that can help.
If you quit your job, Centrelink may decide you are ‘voluntarily unemployed’ and you may have to wait eight weeks before you get paid.
You won’t have to wait though if Centrelink decides the work was unsuitable or that quitting your job was reasonable in the circumstances.
For example, Centrelink can decide it was reasonable for you to quit your job or that the work was unsuitable if you were being bullied, if your employer was breaching workplace safety law or if you were being underpaid. Centrelink can also consider your personal circumstances.
If Centrelink decides you have to wait eight weeks before getting paid, you should get advice and appeal the decision.
Centrelink can end your eight-week waiting period early if waiting for payment would cause you severe financial hardship and you have:
If waiting eight weeks to be paid means you risk being evicted, then you should ask Centrelink to end the waiting period.
Centrelink will decide you are in ‘severe financial hardship’ if you:
Sometimes these amounts change so check with Centrelink or get advice.
Centrelink may also look at what you have spent money on recently—if they decide you are in financial hardship because you’ve been spending money on things that aren’t essential, they may refuse to end your waiting period early. To avoid this happening, get advice before you make any spending decisions.
If you don’t agree with Centrelink’s decisions, you can appeal free of charge.
If Centrelink says you have to wait eight weeks before being paid, you should ask the authorised review officer for a ‘payment pending review’. This means you want to be paid while Centrelink reviews their decision.
If the person you are speaking to is not sure what you are asking for, you could refer them to section 131 of the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 or Part 6.8 of the Guide to Social Security Law.
You can ask for an appeal from the authorised review officer at any time, but if you want to receive all your back-pay if the decision is changed, then you should ask for an appeal within 13 weeks of receiving the decision.
There is no time limit to ask the authorised review officer to appeal a Centrelink debt.
You can ask for an appeal by:
If the authorised review officer does not change the decision, you can lodge another appeal with the Social Services and Child Support Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. These appeals are also free.
You can lodge your appeal with the tribunal by:
calling 1800 228 333 and lodging it over the phone
visiting www.aat.gov.au and selecting ‘Apply online’.
You should lodge your appeal with the tribunal within 13 weeks of receiving the authorised review officer’s decision (there is no time limit to lodge an appeal with the Social Services and Child Support Division of the tribunal if the appeal is about a debt).
If the Social Services and Child Support Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal does not change the decision, you can lodge another appeal with the General Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
All General Division appeals should be lodged within 28 days of the Social Services and Child Support Division’s decision, including appeals about debts.
calling 1800 228 333 and asking them to send you a copy of the Application for Second Review of Decision form to lodge an appeal visiting www.aat.gov.au and selecting ‘Apply online’.
You should get advice about Centrelink appeals.
The following organisations may be able to help.
Centrelink 13 28 50
Basic Rights Queensland 1800 358 511 or (07) 3847 5532
Townsville Community Legal Service (07) 4721 5511
Legal Aid Queensland 1300 65 11 88
Fair Work Ombudsman 13 13 94
Caxton Legal Centre (07) 3214 6333
Job Watch 1800 331 617 or (03) 9662 1933
Working Women’s Queensland 1800 621 458 (Mon, Wed and Fri)
Residential Tenancies Authority 1300 366 311
Tenants Queensland QSTARS 1300 744 263
Rent Connect 13 74 68
Homeless Hotline 1800 474 753
If you would like this factsheet explained in your language, please phone the Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50 to speak to an interpreter. Ask them to connect you to Legal Aid Queensland. If you are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment you can contact us using the National Relay Service. To make a call, go to the National Relay Service Website and ask for 1300 65 11 88 (Legal Aid Queensland’s legal information line). These are free services.