Work probation and benefits

Earnings normally affect the benefits you can claim. This is also true when you are in a probation period. When you start working, the benefits you can claim could be affected by:

  • which benefits you were claiming before you started work
  • where you live
  • how many hours you work
  • how much money you have

If you stop working, you may need to start a new claim and be re-assessed 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 Jobcentre Plus work coach can decide to cut (sanction) your benefits.

Probation periods

If you’re offered a job, ask to see your contract. There is no such thing as a probationary period in employment law. If there is no probation in your contract, your employer cannot act as if there is. At the end of a probation period, you can:

  • pass it
  • have another probation period (also called ‘renewing’ your probation period)
  • fail it and be dismissed

When you start any job, it should be clear what you’re expected to do. If it’s not, you can ask. If you’re not doing what’s expected of you, you should get feedback and a chance to improve before you’re dismissed. It could be discrimination if your employer:

  • does not give you a chance to improve
  • treats you less fairly as a disabled employee
More information on discrimination at work

Probationary periods and employment law on Citizens Advice

Reasonable adjustments during your probation period

If there are reasonable adjustments which would allow you to carry on working, ask for them. The Equality Act 2010 requires an employer to make reasonable adjustments to enable a disabled person to work.

There is no set definition of what is ‘reasonable’. It depends on the job, and on the employer. If you’re employed, you have the right to reasonable adjustments, even when you’re in your probation period.

If you feel that you are facing discrimination, you can get free legal advice from your:

  • union
  • household insurance provider if they offer it
  • professional body

Reasonable adjustments at work

How to find legal help

Benefits: who to contact

You must contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if:

  • you start working
  • your working hours or earnings change
  • you stop working

Depending on the benefits you claim, you may need to contact different teams at the DWP. You may also need to contact the tax office (for tax credits) and your local council (for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction).

Make notes on any contact you have and keep any paperwork.

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

You might not be sanctioned if you have a good reason for leaving. For example, if:

  • you get made redundant
  • you take voluntary redundancy
  • the job you are doing or where you are working makes you unwell (get advice from your doctor, and send evidence about this to your work coach)

Claiming Employment and Support Allowance

You can claim ESA while you're working if your work coach agrees that you’re doing permitted work. You must also be working for less than 16 hours and earning under £131.50 a week. You cannot claim ESA if you’re above these limits.

You may be able to claim:

Claiming Universal Credit

If you claim Universal Credit, the DWP will get information about what you earn. If this varies, your Universal Credit will change.

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.

Support with the extra costs of being disabled

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Personal Independence Payments (PIP) are not affected by how much you earn. But the DWP may want to re-assess your entitlement to these benefits if you are in work. This could lead to your DLA or PIP being reduced or cut.

Last reviewed by Scope on: 26/04/2018

Is this content helpful?

Great! Tell us how it helped.

We're sorry to hear that. Tell us how it can be improved.

Work and benefits

Opens in a new windowOpens an external siteOpens an external site in a new window