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What is an Employment Separation Certificate? (2021 Update)

What is an Employment Separation Certificate? (2021 Update)

When applying for unemployment benefits, you may be asked to provide an Employment Separation Certificate. Read about it here.

22nd January 2021
Reading Time: 2 minutes


As of 1st January 2021, there is a possibility that terminated employees may be asked to provide an Employment Separation Certificate when applying for income support payments. Please note, if you have recently lost your job as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we suggest you ask your employer for an Employment Separation Certificate.


Unemployment can be a very stressful time. When you lose your source of income, the bills you have to pay don’t disappear. If you find yourself in this position, you may be eligible to receive Government assistance until you find another job. However, you may need to provide an Employment Separation Certificate. This article will explain what an Employment Separation Certificate is and what it includes.

What is an Employment Separation Certificate? 

An employment separation certificate is a document issued by the government to show basic details about someone’s employment. These details include:

  • The period of their employment
  • Details of final pay
  • The reason for the termination of their employment
  • How much they were earning when they left

What is the use of an Employment Separation Certificate? 

Employment Separation Certificates record the employment details of a former employee to allow them to apply for select benefits through Centrelink. It assists the government with allocating an amount that may be payable to you whilst you are in between jobs. In most cases, this certificate will be used when an employee has been terminated. However, it can also be used if an employee’s hours have been reduced or their employment type has changed from full time to casual.

Does an Employer Have to Provide One? 

An employer is only sometimes required to provide an employment separation certificate. For instance, if a former employee asks for one, the employer needs to provide it. An employer also needs to provide it if Centrelink or another government agency request it. If you’re an employer and receive a request to complete one, you need to do so within 14 days.

How Do I Get One?

Employers can submit an Employment Separation Certificate online using Centrelink Business Online Services. To assist further, an easy to follow, step by step guide can be found online. Additionally, if your employer cannot use Centrelink Business Online Services, they can fill out the Employment Separation Certificate form and hand it back to the employee. They can also fax it over to the Department of Human Services.

What happens if your employer won’t give you one?

If your employer refuses to give you an ESC, your claim for benefits such as Newstart Allowance or Youth Allowance may be rejected. Some employers can be difficult and may refuse to complete the ESC, or do not fill it out correctly. If you are unable to obtain the certificate through no fault of your own, your benefits should not be delayed or refused.

Informing the government as to why you cannot provide the certificate is a great idea as they should then:

  • Contact your employer directly for the Certificate and if necessary consider prosecuting the employer, or;
  • Grant your payment and obtain the necessary information later.

Can benefits still be claimed if you have no certificate?

You can still apply for the Centrelink benefit if you cannot provide the certificate. As above, this will only be accepted if it is due to no fault of your own. Then, Centrelink should contact your employer directly or grant your payment and get the information they need later.

If you are looking for professional or legal assistance about employment separation certificates, it is always a good idea to consult an employment lawyer for legal advice.

Don’t know where to start?
Contact a Lawpath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest legal marketplace.

Janette Nalbandian

Janette is a Legal Tech Intern at Lawpath as part of the Content Team. She is in her third year of a Bachelor of Laws with the degree of Bachelor of Social Sciences (Major in Criminology) at Macquarie University. She is interested in Migration Law and Access to Justice.