Only weeks after opening its Employer Reporting Hotline, Services Australia has said that it is investigating hundreds of unemployed individuals after they submitted inappropriate job applications and wasted employers time by skipping interviews or refusing to work.
Employment Minister Stuart Roberts said in a media release on Friday that it was disappointing for more than 300 people to have been dobbed through the hotline by an estimated 110 employers. A further 240 are under investigation or are receiving penalties for their actions.
“At the end of the day, Australians expect everyone who can work to get into work, and some of the stories coming out of the Employer Reporting Line are frankly unacceptable,” Robert said.
“We’ve got reports from restaurants in Sydney that they’ve received numerous inappropriate job applications and had several applicants refuse to attend job interviews; we’ve also got reports of a Vet in Victoria that has had over a dozen individuals falsely answer yes to Are you a registered Veterinarian in Australia? wasting time which is so precious for small business owners.”
Roberts noted that with hundreds of businesses across the country crying out for workers and thousands of Victorians fighting to get back to work, it was difficult to see some people were wasting small business owners time.
According to Roberts, the leading reasons for employers reporting individuals were inappropriate application submissions, non-attendance at interviews, and leaving suitable employment.
Under the Morrison government’s unemployment scheme, unemployed people on Jobseeker are required to apply for at least 15 jobs every week to receive their payments. Those who are dobbed on through the hotline can have their welfare payments suspended.
The penalty mechanism has drawn criticism from the Australian Unemployed Workers Union (AUWU) who told the ABC in April that the line can be used to punish unemployed individuals who turn down jobs they feel are unsuitable.
“This line appears to be a bit of a PR exercise for the government to keep demonising unemployed people … it’s clearly a tool designed to pressure people,” a spokeswoman for the AUWU, Kristin O’Connell, said.
“The government is requiring people to apply for jobs they may not be suited to and then punishing them if they don’t take those jobs.”
Liberal National MP Warren Entsch told the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that he had no issue with the hotline’s requirements because employers in his far north Queensland electorate regularly encountered applicants who didn’t really want to work.
“I’m constantly getting complaints when people are turning up for a job interview inappropriately dressed, very dismissive, and quite blatantly saying to prospective employers they don’t really want to do the job,” he said.
Roberts said that his message to businesses was that if they were getting messed around, call the Employer Reporting Line on 1300 361 241 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.