The Government has begun work-testing 4500 people on the domestic purposes benefit (DPB) under changes to the welfare system that took effect on Monday.
Under the changes, solo parents with children over the age of six are expected to look for work.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says that there is a responsibility attached to receiving a benefit and that those who are able to work should make every effort to do so.
Eventually, about 43,000 of the 99,000 people on the DPB who don't have any children under six will be work-tested.
Sickness beneficiaries will be work-tested from May next year. Those on an unemployment benefit are required to reapply after one year; those who don't may have their benefits cut completely.
Ms Bennett says those on the DPB and sickness benefits can have their benefits cut by up to 50% if they do not look for work - but benefits will be reinstated as soon as recipients comply with Work and Income requests.
The minister says the Government recognises the economy is still in recovery mode, so it is identifying existing employment opportunities and trying to create new ones.