Some types of work will not count. These can include:
care of a relative
domestic tasks in your own home
a Department of Work and Pension (DWP) approved unpaid work trial or work placement
work the DWP regards as trivial or very small
self-employed work for up to 26 weeks with support from a DWP provider
work as a councillor
any emergency activity to protect another person or to prevent serious damage to property or livestock
duties as an appeal tribunal disability member for 1 day or 2 half days a week
fostering a child or providing respite care to someone who is not normally a member of your household. A health body, voluntary organisation or local authority can pay you if you are on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
If you work 16 hours or more, you might be able to claim Universal Credit. You will not be able to claim income-related or contribution-based ESA again. You might be able to claim New-Style ESA if you meet the permitted work conditions. Consider carefully if it is worth working 16 hours or more.
Universal Credit (UC)
If you claim Universal Credit, the DWP will get information from the tax office (HMRC) about what you earn. If this varies, your Universal Credit will change.
The DWP calculates the maximum amount of Universal Credit by adding together a standard list of allowances and elements. These are the basic amounts which the law says you need to live on.
If you qualify, for each £10 you earn above your work allowance, your Universal Credit reduces by £5.50. In other words, for each £10 you earn above your work allowance, you will be better off by £4.50.
Always tell the DWP if you stop work. Your Universal Credit claim is live 6 months after your last payment. This makes it easier to re-claim.
Housing Benefit (HB) may help pay your rent if you are on a low income. Depending on your circumstances, you can receive this by getting:
Zero-hours contracts do not guarantee you any work. Sometimes, they can be useful. You have the freedom to work flexibly, without fixed hours. But your income may change from week to week. This can make it hard to plan and more difficult to claim benefits like ESA.
Send the form to the Jobcentre Plus office that deals with your benefit. They will tell you if the work you want to do meets the permitted work conditions. If you are unsure what your conditions are, speak to your Work Coach.
Permitted work lower limit
This allows you to earn up to £20 a week for an unlimited period. Any earnings over £20 will be deducted from your Income Support.
Permitted work higher limit
This allows you to earn up to £152 a week, after tax and National Insurance deductions, without affecting your benefits. The work must be less than 16 hours a week. It can be for an unlimited period.
Supported permitted work
This is work where you have a supervisor from:
a public body or local authority
a voluntary or community group which provides or finds work for disabled people
Supported permitted work has no restriction on the hours you work. It can be for an unlimited period. You can earn up to £152 a week after tax and National Insurance deductions without affecting your benefit.
If this is something you might be interested in, speak to your Work Coach.
Universal Credit and permitted work
There is no ‘permitted work’ under Universal Credit. Instead, you can do some work, even for a few hours a week, if you can manage it. There is no time limit to how many weeks you can work. You can keep some of the earnings if you have a work allowance.
When calculating your Housing Benefit, permitted work earnings are not included if you receive:
Incapacity Benefit or
Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA)
You can keep up to £20 a week of permitted work earnings, if you are getting Income Support. Permitted work can include paid employment or self-employment.
Work probation and benefits
Earnings normally affect the benefits you can claim. This is also true when you are in the trial period. This is often known as probation and will be agreed when you start a job. If you are unsure, ask to see your contract. When you start working, the benefits you can claim could be affected by:
which benefits you were claiming before you started work
how many hours you work
how much money you have
how much you earn
If you stop working, you may need to start a new claim for benefits. This depends on how long you were working for and where you live. The reason why you stop working is also important. In some cases, your Work Coach can decide to cut (sanction) your benefits.
Avoiding cuts to benefits (sanctions)
You may be sanctioned if you’re claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit if you:
choose to leave your job by resigning
are dismissed during or after your probation period
If you have a good reason for leaving, you can avoid sanctions. For example, if:
you are made redundant
you take voluntary redundancy
the job you are doing or where you are working makes you unwell
If your job is affecting your health, get advice from your doctor and send evidence about this to your Work Coach.
If there are reasonable adjustments which would allow you to carry on working, ask for them. If you’re employed, you have the right to reasonable adjustments, even when you’re in your probation period.