Losing your job, for whatever reason, can be an extremely stressful time. There are bills and living expenses that keep piling up, even if you wish they’d just go away. 

If you find yourself in this situation, you may be thinking about applying for government assistance (AKA Centrelink payments) until you land your next job. When you apply for these unemployment benefits, you might be asked to provide something called an Employment Separation Certificate.

This article will give you the lowdown on Employment Separation Certificates, what they are and what happens if you can’t get one after you have left an employer.

Employment Separation Certificates

An Employment Separation Certificate is a Services Australia Form that outlines the basic details about your employment. It covers things such as:

  • The period of your employment
  • The reason for separation of employment – this could for a variety of reasons, such as genuine redundancy due a shortage of work, a contract coming to an end, unsatisfactory performance, misconduct, or resignation
  • Your average weekly wage
  • Details of your final pay and any related entitlements, such as any accrued annual leave entitlements and/or redundancy pay

When Do I Need An Employment Separation Certificate?

Your Employment Separation Certificate will help Services Australia to assess your claim for income support accurately and ensure you are receiving the correct amount in benefits.

To make sure you’re prepared, you might want to consider asking your employer to complete an Employment Separation Certificate when your employment with them comes to an end. This way, you’ll have it in your back pocket in case you decide to apply for Centrelink benefits down the track. 

In the majority of cases, an Employment Separation Certificate is used after employment has come to an end. However, there are some other situations in which you might need one, such as where you have had your work hours reduced or your employment type has changed from full-time to casual work.

How Do I Get An Employment Separation Certificate?

When it comes to applying for Centrelink benefits, there are two main methods in which you can obtain an Employment Separation Certificate:

  • You can ask your employer for one directly; or 
  • Centrelink may send your employer a request for information about your employment or former employment.

Does An Employer Have To Provide An Employment Separation Certificate?

In short, yes.

After receiving a request for an Employment Separation Certificate – regardless of whether you have made the request, or if they have received a request from Centrelink – employers must comply with the request and will need to produce one within 14 days.

Unfortunately, if the employer fails to provide you with an Employment Separation Certificate, or in situations where they have completed it incorrectly, your claim for Centrelink may be rejected. As a result, you might not receive income support or benefits.

What Happens If I Can’t Get A Employment Separation Certificate? 

If you haven’t received an Employment Separation Certificate within 14 days of your request, you may wish to direct your employer to Service Australia’s help for employers or their step-by-step guide to submitting an Employment Separation Certificate online using Centrelink Business Online Service. In addition to this, you can send them a PDF version of the Employment Separation Certificate form, which they can fill out and return to you or fax it straight to Services Australia.

Sometimes, your employer might not be cooperative or willing to help. 

If, through no fault of your own, you are unable to obtain an Employment Separation Certificate, you should inform Services Australia of the reasons why as soon as possible. 

Once they are aware of your circumstances, Services Australia can:

  • Attempt to contact your employer directly, and if necessary, penalise them accordingly; and/or 
  • Approve your application, ensuring you receive your Centrelink benefits, and obtain the necessary information relating to your specific circumstances later.

We recommended that you talk to a lawyer to obtain legal advice. This is especially important if you have any concerns surrounding the legality of your employment or termination of employment, such as whether you were subject to an unfair dismissal. Obtaining professional help and advice can also help you avoid unnecessary delays or obstacles further down the line.

What’s The Difference Between Separation And Termination Of Employment?

Understanding the difference between separation and termination of employment can sometimes be confusing. 

Separation is a blanket term that covers any scenario in which an employer or employee decides to end employment, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Boiling it down, employees only leave a job for two reasons: they leave voluntarily, or they are asked to leave. The latter is what we refer to as termination of employment. 

Examples of voluntary separation may include things such as:

  • Retirement
  • Better opportunities or accepting a job elsewhere
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Other changes in circumstance

In contrast, involuntary separation, or termination, may look something like:

  • Termination for cause – this could involve reasons such as a lack of capacity, poor or unsatisfactory performance, or misconduct
  • Redundancy
  • An employment contract coming to an end – this often happens with temporary positions

It is important to note that employees are protected from unfair dismissal by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). Find out more about the ins and outs of unfair dismissals in our article here.

Need Help With Employment Separation Certificates And Your Entitlements?

Finding yourself in between jobs and without work isn’t easy and can be a very stressful process. This can be made even more difficult if your former employer isn’t responding to your requests for an Employment Separation Certificate.

Whether you need help dealing with an uncooperative employer, or if you have broader concerns surrounding the circumstances of your dismissal, give us a call on 1800 730 617 or shoot us an email at team@sprintlaw.com.au for a free, no-obligations chat. We have a team of friendly and experienced lawyers who are happy to help you out and put your mind at ease!

About Sprintlaw

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