Can I Work and Claim Jobseekers Allowance?
The significance of that means you can work and claim JSA. You must keep signing on and remain available for more hours of employment.
Most people think the Job Seekers Allowance provides welfare for those who are not earning any salary whatsoever. After all, they are the ones who need it most.
But for those who are wondering – 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. You can be living together (cohabitation) as a couple or claim as a single adult.
JSA for Couples
The rules change a little if you are claiming income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and live with a partner. In this case, if your partner is in employment it must be for less than 24 hours a week.
Even so, 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.
You or your partner must be working below the threshold of hours permitted. The (amount) size of your earnings will usually determine (how much) the Jobseeker’s Allowance rates 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 have some job seeking conditions of claiming JSA and working part time. You or your partner may also get instructed to search for a full-time job.
Working and Claiming JSA Conditions
Claimants must meet three basic conditions before getting Jobseeker’s Allowance.
- You must be readily available for a job.
- Show that you are actively seeking work.
- Have a current Jobseeker’s Agreement (Claimant Commitment) with the Jobcentre Plus office. This would be the Social Security Agency in Northern Ireland.
They used to call the document the Jobseeker’s Agreement. It 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 a ‘Claimant Commitment‘. This form sets out your role for finding work in more detail. There is an increase in the clarity of your role and your requirements.
Note: You can get support when you start working as some benefits may still be available during employment.
Capable of Working
What about 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. They include the Employment and Support Allowance. The welfare system also provides extra help for sick or disabled persons who cannot perform the normal duties of employment.
Available for Work
As a rule, being available for work means you are able to start a job immediately. There are some exceptions. You may be conducting a voluntary appointment for a non-profit organisation or you could be caring for someone.
In both of these cases, you must be available to attend a job interview within forty eight hours. You must also be ready to take a job with only one week’s notice.
These times can get extended if you are caring for a child under 16 years old. 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, your hours of employment may get 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. It also includes any time that your child gets 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. This applies even though you are unable to do so straight away.
Providing you can show medical evidence, individuals with a medical condition may get offered particular types of jobs to suit. In most cases, they will also have appropriate hours of employment.
Other state benefits exist for extreme situations. They may apply where a medical condition or a disability makes it too difficult or impractical to find suitable employment.
Actively Searching for a Job
You have some responsibilities during the period that you are working and claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance. 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:
- Showing that you have read employment advertisements.
- Displaying how you applied to vacant positions.
- Producing documentation which shows you have registered with employment agencies.
These are the initial steps of job searching. You should then keep all your correspondence records of doing so. Keep copies of vacancy advertisements that you have replied to.
Taking a two week holiday period while you are working and claiming JSA is ‘actively’ seeking work. But, as a rule you must be ‘living in Great Britain’ while you are away. You must also be available to receive information about any job offers.
Be sure to inform the Jobcentre Plus office if you are traveling abroad. Check with them about signing on when you return home.
Getting 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 help those on a low income cover the costs of much needed essentials at home. They can pay for some services while job searching (e.g. clothes, furniture, rent, moving costs, and even some hire purchase debts).
Signing on at Jobcentre Plus
Claimants need to sign on at a Jobcentre Plus office every two weeks as a minimum. At each visit, they will assist you in finding employment. They will also check whether you continue to meet the conditions of the scheme.
What if the Jobcentre Plus office suspects you are failing to keep to your Jobseeker’s Agreement or Claimant Commitment? You may get called in for a discussion at any time. In some circumstances your benefit may get reduced or stopped completely.
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.