Victorians receiving JobSeeker payments will not be forced to apply for jobs as the state battles a disastrous uptick in coronavirus cases.

Mutual obligations are due to kick in from 4 August for Australians receiving the unemployment payment, meaning they will be required to participate in at least one online or phone appointment with their job services provider, agree to a job plan, and undertake four job searches a month.

However, Victorians, who are now facing their toughest Covid-19 restrictions yet, will be exempt from the requirements.

“Mutual obligation requirements for jobseekers in Victoria will remain in the current phase where no penalties or suspensions will apply for any jobseeker,” the Department of Education, Skills, and Employment confirmed. 

“Where jobseekers can, and it is safe to do so, they can engage with their employment service provider either online or over the phone. Jobseekers who are serviced online should continue to consider their employment and training goals.”

Minister for Employment Michaelia Cash also said mutual obligations requirements for Victorians would be postponed until further notice.

“No Victorian will face financial penalties during this time, however, jobseekers are encouraged to remain connected with their employment service providers to ensure they are supported to access the full range of assistance including mental health services if required,” Cash said.

The decision comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australians could face penalties including canceled payments if they refused a suitable job while receiving JobSeeker. 

“The penalties regime will kick in if people refuse a job that has been provided and offered through that process,” Morrison said in July. 

“So if there is a job to be taken and a job that is being offered, then it is an obligation, a mutual obligation, for those who are on JobSeeker to take those jobs where they're on offer.”