Coronavirus: information and updates

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  
  • 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. This will tell you about any probationary period. 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
  • renew or extend your probation
  • 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
Discrimination at work

Probationary periods and employment law (Citizens Advice)

Reasonable adjustments during your probation

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

Finding free or affordable legal help (Citizens Advice)

Reasonable adjustments at work

Benefits: who to contact

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 need to contact the tax office for tax credits.

Contact 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 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.

You can claim Income Related Employment and Support Allowance (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 £140 a week. You cannot claim Income Related ESA if you’re above these limits.

Permitted work

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 disability

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: 17/09/2020

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Work and benefits

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