The UK Rules
'Follow the Regulations'
Working while Claiming JSA

Working and Claiming JSA

Working while claiming JSA is allowed, and encouraged, providing your employment is part time (less than 16 hours a week) and your job-hunting for longer working hours continues.

JSA BENEFITS: The significance of that means you can work and claim JSA, as long as you keep signing on and remain available for more hours of employment.

Can I Work and Claim Jobseekers Allowance?

It is commonly accepted that the Job Seekers Allowance provides welfare for those who are not earning any salary whatsoever, and perhaps they need it most.

But for those who wonder - can I work and claim JSA - the simple answer is YES, if you are eligible.

It also surprises some households that working and claiming JSA is equally permissible for couples who are living together (cohabiting), as well as for single adults.

JSA for Couples

The rules change slightly if you are claiming income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and live with a partner. In this case, if your partner is employed it must be for less than 24 hours a week.

Nevertheless, you may be eligible for Working Tax Credit if you - or your partner– have already reached the regulatory 16 hours of employment per week or more.

Providing you or your partner are below the threshold of hours permitted, the (amount) size of your earnings will usually determine (how much) the amount of Jobseeker's Allowance you (will) can get.

But in most cases, earning higher than the limits means you will most likely be ineligible for the contribution-based JSA.

The government’s job seeking conditions of claiming JSA and working part time mean you or your partner may also be instructed to search for a full-time job.

Working and Claiming JSA Conditions

Claimants must meet three basic conditions before getting Jobseeker's Allowance.

  1. You must be readily available for a job.
  2. Show that you are actively seeking work.
  3. Have a current Jobseeker's Agreement (or Claimant Commitment) with the Jobcentre Plus office (Social Security Agency in Northern Ireland).

The document called the Jobseeker's Agreement simply states that you have agreed to look for a job and how you intend to find it.

The updated version of the Jobseeker’s Agreement is called a Claimant Commitment and this form sets out your role for finding work in more detail, and with increased clarity on your role and requirements.

Capable of Working

For those who are not already claiming JSA and working under 16 hours, you must be capable of doing so to stake your claim for the allowance.

Benefits also exist for those who are too ill for a job, such as the Employment and Support Allowance, and the welfare system provides additional assistance for sick or disabled persons who cannot perform the normal duties of employment.

Available for Work

Being available for work typically means you are able to start a job immediately. There are exceptions such as if you are conducting a voluntary appointment for a non-profit organisation or you are caring for someone.

In both of these cases, you must be available to attend a job interview within forty eight hours, and be ready to take a job with only one week’s notice.

These times are extended if you are caring for a child under 16 years. Being responsible for a child less than 16 often provides the best opportunity for you to be claiming JSA and working under 16 hours a week.

On this occasion, the benefit is that your hours of employment may be restricted to normal school hours if your child is under 13 years. Jobseeker's Allowance is also available for carers and certain other people during school holidays and at any time that your child is excluded from school.

If you have suffered a domestic emergency, such as violence or homelessness, the Jobcentre Plus must treat you as being available for a job, even though you are unable to do so straightaway.

Providing you can show medical evidence, individuals with a medical condition may be offered particular types of jobs or those which have appropriate hours of employment.

Other state benefits exist for extreme situations where a medical condition or a disability makes it too difficult or impractical to find suitable employment.

Actively Searching for a Job

For all of the period that you are working and claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), you must provide evidence that you are either actively seeking work or trying to increase your working hours. Reasonable steps of finding a job might include:

Having performed these initial steps of job searching, you should then keep all your correspondence records of doing so and copies of vacancy advertisements that you have replied to.

Taking a two week holiday period while you are working and claiming JSA is considered to be actively seeking work. Nonetheless, as a rule you must be living in Great Britain while you are away and you must available to receive information about job offers.

Make sure to inform the Jobcentre Plus office if you are traveling and check with them about signing on when you return home.

Help While Job Searching

A Social Fund Budgeting Loan is an interest-free welfare crisis benefit administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Budget loans are used to help those on low income cover the costs of much needed essentials at home and for some services while job searching (e.g. clothes, furniture, rent, moving costs, even certain hire purchase debts).

Signing on at Jobcentre Plus

Claimants need to sign on at their Jobcentre Plus office every two weeks as a minimum. At each visit, they will assist you in finding employment and check whether or not you continue to meet the scheme’s conditions.

If the Jobcentre Plus office suspects you are failing to keep to your Jobseeker’s Agreement or Claimant Commitment, you may be called in for a discussion at any time. In some circumstances your benefit may be reduced or stopped completely (see JSA sanctions).

As a rule, couples living together without a dependent child must both meet the job seeking conditions. It also means that both members need to look for work and both members must sign on.

Working and Claiming Jobseekers Allowance in the United Kingdom