I have imposed in the dim and distant past benefit sanctions.
Most of them were administrative sanctions in that the Government said if you have been unemployed and signing on for X months and were unwilling to undertake one of a number of options after this interview then your adviser is required to mandate you to attend a short course.
Non attendance at such a course invites a sanction if you fail to attend.
I rarely applied any other type of sanction, although I did talk people through the possible consequences of following a particular line of action with regards to their entitlement to benefit.
I even mentioned daily signing on a few occasions.
I was and am of the opinion that sanctions are very much a last resort.
I did not and do not, in particular, approve of the draconian sanctions regime that came in when the Coalition took power in May 2010.
Jobcentre staff started to penalise people for turning up 5 minutes late to sign on.
One bloke was on the wrong side of a railway level crossing when the barriers came down and he was sanctioned for a few minutes tardiness.
A Member of Parliament here in Birmingham raised this case if memory serves me correctly in Parliament.
An individual signing on at Sparkhill Jobcentre was required to attend an hour long jobsearch session at the office at 14:00. As it happened it fell on his fortnightly signing day and his normal signing time was 14:30.
He arrived before 14:00 and asked the staff what he should do. Instead of signing him there and then, they told him it would be ok if he signed on after 15:00.
When he returned to do so, he was told he was over 30 minutes late and had incurred a sanction, but not to worry he had a right of appeal against it.
A tick in the box of the running total of sanctions.
Understandably, the gentleman in question approached his MP who was compiling a list of these cases.
Sparkhill Jobcentre was developing a reputation, both within and without of Jobcentre Plus, for such disproportionate and inequitable treatment of clients.
I must stress that I do come from a particular working class background, not dissimilar from that of Sir Keir Starmer QC, that takes the view that you do not get owt for nowt so I have no time for those who say sanctions should be scrapped in their entirety.
We believe in a hand up not a hand out.
Of people taking the opportunities available to them and not bemoaning their lives, if they choose not to do so.
But we also believe in no one being left behind.
Help for those who can, support for those who cannot.
Each giving according to their means and receiving according to their needs.
There are a tiny, tiny, tiny number of toerags who do play the system and who will, on occasion, sit in a Jobcentre loudly telling the world and partner what they are not doing to look for work.
The world and partner being the vast majority on benefit doing their utmost to find work.
What message does it send to those folk that someone may break the rules without the risk of any penalty?
Administrative and petty sanctions are easy to apply.
Refusal of (Suitable) Employment sanctions are not, because they involve employment opportunities and quite often a third party, namely an employer.
I have copied and pasted the following sections from Decision Maker’s Guide Volume 6 Chapter 34: Sanctions
I have italicised and highlighted certain sections that may be of particular use when appealing such sanctions. Take advice before doing so.
Unreasonable physical or mental stress
34309 Sometimes a particular employment would be likely to cause unreasonable stress without being likely to cause actual significant harm but the claimant perceives it will. For example, claimants may be likely to suffer unreasonable
1. physical stress if they
- 1.1 are disabled and take employment which is physically hard or
- 1.2 take employment which means they have to work at night, but they find it difficult to sleep during the day or
2. mental stress if they work somewhere they dread, for example an abattoir or an undertaker’s or
3. distress because a certain type of work exacerbates experiences of anxiety or mental distress, for example a person with social anxiety or a history of agoraphobia who is expected to deal with large numbers of people.
Note: Often this is a very individual and personal thing and may not have been identified as a restriction with their advisor. What one person can cope with will not be the same for another person and the DM should consider each case on its individual merits and circumstances and what is reasonable in the individual’s case.
34310 Where the claimant genuinely believes that a particular employment is likely to cause
1. significant harm to the claimant’s health or
2. the claimant unreasonable physical or mental stress the DM should take this into account when deciding whether or not the claimant has good reason (see also DMG 34236).
34311 – 34312
Sincere religious or conscientious objection
34321 If a claimant refuses to comply with a requirement because of any religious or conscientious objection, which the claimant sincerely holds, the DM should take this into account when deciding good reason. Claimants cannot show good reason just by saying, for example, that they conscientiously object to doing a certain employment. They must
1. show that one or more of the terms and conditions of the employment conflicts with the principles of their religion or belief and
2. give enough evidence to satisfy the DM that their religious or conscientious objection is sincerely held and
3. show that the conflict between the principles of their religion or belief are reasonably unavoidable.
Note 1: The degree to which the claimant’s beliefs are commonly held or considered reasonable byothers is immaterial. The belief held must be in respect of a weighty and substantial matter.
Note 2: It may well depend on the specific job involved and the capacity of the employer to organise how certain tasks are performed when considering good reason.
34322 A principled objection is not the same as a conscientious objection. The terms and conditions of the employment must require the claimant to act in a way which is contrary to their ethical or moral principles (1).
(1 R(JSA) 7/03)
34323 The following are examples of religious or conscientious objections which may provide good reason
1. an objection to employment that involves the handling or supply of alcohol, cigarettes , tobacco or certain food products (e.g. pork)
2. a religious objection to being in employment on a particular day each week
3. an objection to employment with something which may be used to destroy life, whether human or animal
4. a religious objection to being in employment with members of the opposite sex (but also see Note 3 and Example 6).
Note 1: This is not an exhaustive list or specific criteria that mean a claimant would have automatic good reason but examples of some of the more commonly raised religious or cultural beliefs. The DM should consider any issue raised by the claimant in consideration of good reason however the DM would have to be satisfied that all the criteria at DMG 34321 are met for it to be good reason due to a sincere religious or conscientious objection.
Note 2: Where a restriction or limitation on ASE or availability has been agreed on the JSAg, the claimant will not have to show good reason (also see DMG 34214). The claimant must show that they have reasonable prospects of obtaining employment with all restrictions (also see further guidance in DMG Chapter 21).
Note 3: Good reason would not be allowed where there is direct impermissible discrimination (i.e. unlawful discrimination based on characteristics protected by law, such as race, colour, national origin, religion, sex, age, gender identity etc)1. However. whilst a religious requirement might be indirectly discriminatory to another protected group, that is not the question at hand. The question at hand is whether an employer can accommodate the religious belief. For example, in some religions men are not allowed to work in close quarters with women or groups of women who are not members of their own family and vice versa. Whether good reason can be shown may well depend on the specific job and the capacity of the employer to organise how tasks are performed to accommodate the religious belief. The DM should consider all the facts and circumstances and what is reasonable in the individual case and whether all the criteria at DMG 34321 are met (see Example 6).
1 Equality Act 2010
Aabish is a practising Muslim. Alcohol is forbidden in Islam and some Muslims also refuse to handle it. Aabish has good reason for not applying for an advertised vacancy in a local off-license. The job will involve handling and selling alcohol which cannot reasonably be avoided in this particular job.
However, one of the major supermarket chains is also recruiting for till operators. They have a written policy to respect the wishes of any employee not to handle specific products for religious or cultural reasons and where any employees who have religious beliefs about certain products or what foods or drink they could handle, would place them on a till where the product is not usually served, such as clothing, or on tasks away from a till.
Aabish would not be able to show a good reason for failing to apply for a job at the supermarket based on her religious beliefs regarding alcohol.
Yuraj refuses to apply for a vacancy at a building site as he will be required to wear a hard hat at all times for his own health and safety. Yuraj is a Sikh and his beliefs require him to wear a turban which means he cannot meet the requirement to wear a hard hat. Yuraj would have good reason not to apply for the vacancy.
Billy is offered a job as a waiter in a restaurant at a casino. He states he has an objection to gambling, it is against his moral principles. Billy’s opinion of gambling is irrelevant to the people gambling. His duties as a waiter in the restaurant will not require him to act in a way which is contrary to his beliefs with regard to gambling and therefore he would not be able to show good reason for refusing the job on that basis.
Akinta is referred to a MWA scheme placement for 4 weeks. At the end of the third week he asks if he can be excused the morning off his placement on Friday to attend prayers to participate in Eid. Akinta is a practicing Muslim and Eid is one of the most important religious festivals for the Islamic faith. The DM considers it would be reasonable that Akinta be allowed ‘time off’ his placement to attend the religious festival Eid.
Isaac is a practicing orthodox Jew. He refuses to accept a job offer as a care worker as the employer will not allow him to follow his religious observance of the Jewish Sabbath. Even though Isaac had offered to work longer hours Sunday through to Thursday, the employer states they have a duty to make sure the children in its care have proper supervision on Saturdays and they do not have the number of staff available on their payroll to allow him to have every Friday afternoon and Saturday off work. He would be required to take his turn to work Saturdays pro rata.
Isaac has an agreed limitation on his JSAg to restrict his job search to meet his religious observance and has demonstrated that even within the restraints of his religion he has reasonable prospects of securing employment.
Isaac does not have to show good reason for the failure to accept the job.
Nazir is a machine operator and has worked in a small factory for 5 years on a bench by himself away from other operators.
Due to a reorganisation of the factory floor and how tasks are to be performed Nazir is told he will have to go work as part of a team comprised of women co-workers.
Nazir explains to his employer that his religion forbids him from working in close quarters with women who are not his own family and requests that he be allowed to continue to work by himself or in a male only group.
The employer says they cannot accommodate Nazir’s request as they do not have enough male operators to make up a team, the new processes are to cut costs and it is no longer possible to provide him with space separately on his own. The policy is to make all the operators multi skilled and flexible rather than to concentrate on being skilled in just one part of the process.
Nazir leaves the job.
When considering whether Nazir has good reason for leaving the employment the DM considers that in his circumstances it is a reasonably held and bone fide religious belief and as the employer cannot accommodate Nazir’s religious beliefs to ensure he has no direct interaction with women he has good reason.
Whilst the religious requirement may be discrimination to women that is not the question. The question is whether the employer can accommodate Nazir’s religious belief as the rule requiring him to work directly with women indirectly discriminates on the basis of Nazir’s religion.
34324 – 34325
Circumstances that may show good reason for a refusal or failure to apply for or accept if offered a job vacancy
34340 Other circumstances the DM may take into account when determining the doubt relating to a refusal or failure to apply for or a failure to accept if offered a job vacancy which an Emp O has notified is vacant or is about to become vacant includes
1. any restrictions the claimant has been allowed to place on their work search, having regard to any discrepancy between these and the requirements of the job, although minor differences may not count (see DMG 34341)
2. expenses unavoidably incurred (e.g. childcare and travelling expenses), or that the claimant had to or would have had to, incur if they had taken the job, if they amounted ,or would have amounted, to an unreasonably high proportion of the income they would have received. The proportion that is considered reasonable increases the more they are paid (see DMG 34346 et seq)
3. any other factor that appears relevant (see DMG 34416).
Note: For guidance on what constitutes a refusal or failure see DMG 34721 et seq. Also see guidance at DMG 34928 where the refusal or failure is to carry out a JSD which relates to an employment vacancy.
Restrictions on work search
34341 It is extremely important for advisers to ensure that any job vacancy is weighted to the specific claimant and their personal circumstances and any limitations or restrictions identified in the JSAg taken into consideration.
34342 The JSAg sets the context of the claimant’s jobsearch. Types of jobs recorded on the JSAg as the types of jobs the claimant is looking for are not necessarily restrictions. Jobs identified are the best prospects at the time the JSAg is signed and that may change with time, however, the advisor should update and amend the JSAg at the regular job search fortnightly review.
Samara has been claiming JSA for 3 months. She agreed on her JSAg that the type of work she was looking for was office work, receptionist or bank clerk. Samara is notified by her advisor of a vacancy for a retail job at a local supermarket and she fails to apply for the job stating it is not the type of job she is looking for. The DM considers Samara does not have good reason for failing to apply for the vacancy.
34343 – 34345
34346 The DM should take into account when deciding good reason any expenses which
1. claimants have to meet only for the purpose of the employment and
2. would be an unreasonably high proportion of the expected pay from the employment.
34347 Expenses which can be taken into account include
1. travelling expenses to and from the place of employment by a route and means appropriate to the claimant’s circumstances
2. the cost of tools or equipment which the claimant has to provide
3. the cost of essential protective clothing, not provided by the employer4. the cost of a criminal record check (known as a disclosure).
34348 Deductions from wages of tax, NI and occupational pension contributions cannot be taken into account. This is because they are not expenses incurred for the purposes of the employment.
34349 – 34350
Child care expenses
34351 The DM should take into account when deciding good reason any child care expenses which
1. are or would be necessarily incurred as a result of the claimant being in the employment and
2. did or would represent an unreasonably high proportion of the remuneration which it is reasonable to expect that he would receive from the employment.
34352 There are no rules for deciding whether expenses would be an unreasonably high proportion of remuneration. Each case must be decided on its own facts. But the greater the level of remuneration is, the more reasonable it is for the expenses to be a higher proportion of it. The DM should also consider support available towards childcare from UC or other sources.
34353 The DM should consider employment expenses as in DMG 34346 and child care expenses as in DMG 34351 separately. They should not be aggregated when considering good reason.
34354 – 34359
Unreasonably high proportion of pay
34360 The expenses must be an unreasonably high proportion of the expected pay for good reason to apply. Other issues about the level of pay or the claimant’s income or outgoings cannot be taken into account. For example, the claimant cannot show good reason by arguing that the expenses are unreasonable because the claimant’s
1. wages would have been the only income the household has or
2. household expenses are particularly high.
34361 There are no rules for deciding whether expenses would be an unreasonably high proportion of pay. Each case must be decided on its own facts. But the greater the level of pay is, the more reasonable it is for the expenses to be a higher proportion of it.
34362 If the claimant would have an expense
1. for only a short time, for example where the claimant would have to pay for transport to work initially, but then works transport would be provided after a time or
2. as a “one-off”, for example cost of tools It would be reasonable for the claimant to spend more to meet such an expense than would be the case if the expense would last as long as the employment. The DM should also take into account that the claimant may be able to meet such expenses through the Flexible Support Fund.
Note: The Flexible Support Fund comprises of resources available to Jobcentre Plus Managers to cater for a variety of local needs for claimants.
34363 – 34365
Employment of less than 24 hours a week
34366 If a claimant refused to apply for or accept a job involving fewer than 24 hours work a week they may be able to show good reason (see DMG 34368).
Note 1: Claimants are not automatically allowed good reason and the DM should consider each case on its individual merits where the claimant raises the hours issue as the reason for not applying for a vacancy.
Note 2: This does not apply if the claimant refuses or fails to carry out a JSD although a claimant may be able to challenge the direction as unreasonable (see DMG 34908)
34367 This guidance also applies when considering whether employment is for less than 16 hours a week. If
1. it has been agreed that the claimant can restrict their hours of availability to less than 24 hours in a benefit week, for example because of caring responsibilities and
2. the employment on offer is for less than 16 hours a week the claimant may have good reason for refusing or failing to apply for or accept that employment.
34368 Claimants should not be mandated to vacancies of
1. less than 24 hours where that is not appropriate or
2. where a claimant has a pattern of availability of less than 24 hours, to vacancies where the hours are less than 16 hours a week.
If the number of hours are not shown on the advertised vacancy and the claimant has raised the hours as the reason for not applying for the vacancy then the JCP adviser or member of staff in the Jobcentre must seek to establish the hours before the referral to the DM is made.
34369 The DM must only then consider hours on the basis of good reason as a fact of the case rather than an automatic allowance, bearing in mind that the hours alone may not in itself count as good reason. The DM should consider all the available evidence and information the claimant presents covering the reasons for their actions and the circumstances in which they were in. The number of hours is just one factor the DM should consider in the overall picture of the claimant’s circumstances.
Note: This also applies to vacancies advertised in UJ – see further guidance at DMG 34911.
Alexander is notified of a job vacancy. At his next fortnightly job-search review he confirms he did not apply for the vacancy because he couldn’t be bothered. He didn’t think he’d like the job. The DM considers Alexander did not have good reason for the failure to apply for the vacancy.
Sergei fails to apply for a notified job vacancy and states that when he checked out the details of the vacancy with the employer it was for 10 hours a week and his JSAg shows he has a pattern of availability of over 24 hours a week. The advisor has confirmed with the employer that the vacancy was for 10 hours.
The claimant has good reason for not applying for the vacancy.
Remi has an agreed limitation of looking for work for up to 20 hours per week on his JSAg. He fails to apply for a notified job vacancy which is for 20 hours a week. He can show no good reason for the failure.
He states his reason was he forgot about the vacancy and when he remembered the deadline date to apply had passed. The DM considers Remi does not have a good reason for failing to apply for the vacancy.
Francis fails to apply for a vacancy. He says the reason he didn’t apply for the vacancy was the travelling distance which is 80 minutes each way from his home and he cannot afford the costs of the travel. He does not mention the hours. In consideration of good reason the DM considers the travelling time in itself does not provide good reason as it is less than 90 minutes (see DMG 34261). In consideration of good reason the DM thinks the hours may be a relevant factor and asks the jobcentre to contact the employer for the number of hours involved. On checking, it is confirmed the vacancy is only for 20 hours per week – 4 hours per day over 5 days. The DM decides that we would not reasonably expect a claimant to travel 80 minutes to work for 4 hours a day followed by a return journey of 80 minutes and taking into account the travel costs in comparison to possible earnings. Francis is looking for full time work and it is not practicable or reasonable in the circumstances. The DM considers in this case Francis has good reason for not applying for the vacancy.
Horace’s JSAg shows that he has no restrictions and is available for work for 40 hours per week, Monday to Saturday. A suitable vacancy is put into the Saved Inbox of his UJ account and the advisor informs Horace he must apply for the vacancy before the closing date. No hours are provided.
Horace applies for the job and is called for an interview.
The employer advises JCP that Horace has been offered the job but he has refused it on the grounds that there are not enough hours for him. The maximum number of hours they can offer him at the present time is 18 hours per week.
As the vacancy was outside his agreed availability on his JSAg and Horace says this is the reason he refused the job, Horace has a good reason for the refusal and cannot be sanctioned for refusing to accept the job.
Shifts or rota systems
34370 If the employment on offer requires work on a shift or rota system where the claimant would have to work for 24 or more hours in some weeks, and less than 24 hours in others, the hours should be averaged. A claimant who refused or failed to apply for or accept employment averaging less than 24 hours a week may have good reason, and the DM should not impose a sanction.
34371 – 34375
Other circumstances that may amount to good reason
34376 The DM should
1. consider all matters put forward by the claimant and
2. decide whether or not to take them into account when deciding good reason.
34377 Account should also be taken of any other factor that appears relevant. In particular when the terms of a job on offer break the laws on
1. minimum working conditions or
2. they knowingly connive with an employer or agency in a
- 2.1 tax avoidance scheme or
- 2.2 PAYE is not being properly accounted for.
Attitude of claimant’s trade union
34378 The fact that
1. the prospective employer is on the “black list” of the claimant’s trade union (1) or
2. the claimant refused the employment on union instructions or advice (2) does not, of itself, provide good reason.
(1 R(U) 1/52); (2 R(U) 9/64)
Possible return to previous employment
34379 The fact that a claimant
1. has a previous employment that has not ended and
2. may at some time return to it does not of itself provide good reason for refusing other employment (1).
(1 R(U) 1/52)
Laid off and short time workers
34380 If claimants
1. are laid off and
2. are being allowed to and do in fact restrict the employment they are willing to take to
- 2.1 the job they are laid off from or
- 2.2 casual employment within daily travelling distance of home and
3. refuse or fail to apply for or accept employment because it does not meet any of the restrictions claimants imposed within 2.1 to 2.2.
they will be considered to have good reason. The DM should not impose a sanction.
34381 If the claimants are
1. on short time and
2. are being allowed to and do in fact restrict the employment they are willing to take to
- 2.1 the job they are on short time in or
- 2.2 casual employment within daily travelling distance of home for the hours they are not working in their short time employment and
3. refuse or fail to apply for or accept employment because it does not meet any restrictions claimants impose within 2.1 to 2.2 they will have good reason. The DM should not sanction them.
Decision of Employment Tribunal pending
34382 The fact that a claimant is waiting for the result of an Employment Tribunal hearing on unfair dismissal does not of itself provide good reason for refusing other employment.
Claimant already working
34383 A claimant who is working and is still entitled to UC does not have good reason for refusing other employment just because the claimant would have had to give up their existing job. But see DMG 34384 if the claimant’s reason for refusing other employment was that notice had to be given to end the current job.
34384 If the other employment offered would only have lasted for a short period, and the claimant would then have been unable to return to the previous work, the claimant may have good reason. It is for the DM to consider all the facts and circumstances of the individual case on its merits.
Jack, who is working 10 hours a week at NMW rate is offered four weeks employment of 39 hours a week in the same type of employment, with a different employer. He is not sure that his current employer will take him back on when the new employment ends. Jack has good reason for failing to apply for the vacancy
1 R(U) 34/56
34385 Subject to DMG 34384 the fact that the employment offered is only temporary does not of itself provide good reason1. It is for the DM to consider all the facts of the individual case on its merits and apply a common sense approach in the individual’s circumstances and apply the reasonableness test in consideration of good reason. Temporary employment can assist the claimant by
1. updating existing skills
2. learning new skills
3. becoming more confident
4. improving their CV
5. showing employers they can keep regular hours and stay committed to a task
6. meeting people who can help them find work
7. giving them something to talk about in a job interview and
8. gaining references to improve their prospects of further employment.
Note: For the purposes of a failure to apply for or accept if offered, any employment opportunity, regardless of the duration of the employment, the sanction duration is for a fixed period. The failure is not a failure prescribed for in relevant legislation2 which allows for the sanction to be reduced (see DMG 34097 et seq).
1 R(U) 35/52; 2 JSA Regs, reg 69(3)
Definite chance of other employment
34386 If the claimant has a definite chance of other employment that
1. will start in the very near future and
2. is likely to last at least as long as the employment offered and
3. will be lost if the claimant accepts the employment offered
this will be good reason. Whether a chance is definite must be decided on the individual facts of the case.
34387 Claimants do not have good reason for refusing employment because they
1. would prefer another type of work (1) or
2. wish to find employment for themselves without the help of Jobcentre Plus (2).
(1 CU 3/48(KL)); (2 R(U) 29/53)
Other more suitable people unemployed
34388 A claimant does not have good reason for refusing employment just because there are other unemployed people who are more suited to the vacancy. The question is whether the claimant has good reason for refusing it taking into account all the individual circumstances of the case.
Job vacant because of a trade dispute stoppage
34389 Claimants cannot be sanctioned just because they refuse or fail to apply for or accept a job that is vacant because of a stoppage of work due to a TD. This applies even if the fact is not known at the date of refusal, but comes to light later. If a sanction has already been imposed, the adviser should let the DM know of the change so that he can consider revising or superseding the decision.
34390 For the job to be vacant because of the TD stoppage
1. the stoppage must exist at the time the vacancy is notified or offered. It is not enough that there is a TD, or that a stoppage seems imminent and
2. the vacancy must have been caused by the stoppage. This will not be the case if the vacancy
- 2.1 was caused by the illness of an employee, even if there is a stoppage of work at the employer’s premises or
- 2.2 arose normally after the stoppage had ended and the places of the employees affected by the TD had been filled or
- 2.3 arose because an employee left a job where there was no stoppage in order to take a job where there was a stoppage.
34391 – 34394
Employment which the claimant has previously left
34395 If the claimant has in the past left, or been dismissed from
1. the same employment and
2. employment with the same employer that fact is not in itself good reason but the circumstances in which the previous employment ended may give the claimant good reason for refusing re-employment (for example consideration should be given to any mental or physical health issues or any of the circumstances in DMG 34236).
34396 Where the claimant refuses re-employment the DM should consider
1. all the circumstances surrounding the termination and
2. the effect of the termination on the relations between the claimant and the employer.
Objection to employer or fellow employees
34397 A claimant may refuse employment because
1. the claimant objects to the employer or other employees or
2. it would mean working with a person whose conduct is known to be offensive.
34398 In extreme cases the claimant may be able to show that such employment would be likely to cause
1. unreasonable mental stress (see DMG 34309) or
2. be grounds for a sincere religious objection (see DMG 34321).
Otherwise, such an objection will only be good reason if it is so great that it would be unreasonable to expect the claimant to work in those conditions.
Terry has previously left employment because of a personal disagreement with a colleague. She is offered a job by a different employer, but finds out that the colleague she had the disagreement with is now working there, and will be her supervisor. She is still on bad terms with the ex-colleague. She turns the job down. The DM considers that Terry has good reason.
34399 Unless there are exceptional circumstances, an objection to an employer because that employer has previously sacked the claimant does not provide good reason if there are no other reasons to consider.
Claimant does not have necessary equipment
34400 Claimants sometimes say that they are available for a particular type of employment where it is customary for employees to have their own tools, special clothes etc. If claimants do not have such tools, clothes etc, this will not generally be good reason. But in some cases there may be special reasons which will be good reason. For example, a claimant’s tools are accidentally destroyed or stolen, and the claimant cannot replace them at once. But the DM should also take into account that the claimant may be able to buy such tools and equipment with help from the Flexible Support Fund.
34401 It is important to remember that health and safety is the responsibility of employers (class 1 employment) and that the provision of suitable protective equipment lies with the employer (1). Any available information concerning provision of equipment or tools should be used to decide whether a jobseeker has good reason for refusing vacancies offered.
(1 Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992)
34402 – 34405
34406 Seafarers may refuse an opportunity to go back to sea because they want to
1. change their occupation or
2. take shore leave which they are due, and by the time the leave is finished the chance of employment is lost, for example because the ship has sailed.
34407 It is difficult for seafarers who want to change their occupation, particularly if they are abroad or at sea, to find alternative employment to start as soon as their contract ends. If they
1. have taken whatever steps they could and
2. seem to have reasonable prospects of finding other employment fairly quickly the DM should accept that they have good reason.
34408 The DM should take into account that seafarers are entitled to some leave after voyages. But this does not mean that they have good reason for refusing chances of employment during any period of leave, regardless of the circumstances. They must show that they have not acted unreasonably in relying on UC.
Working time regulations
34409 The Working Time Regulations 1998 provide that a worker’s working time, including overtime, shall not exceed an average of 48 hours for each seven days (the average being calculated over a 17 week period) except where a worker has agreed with his employer in writing that this limit should not apply in his case.
34410 A jobseeker has good reason for refusing employment of over an average of 48 hours per week if he gives the number of hours as his reason for refusal, irrespective of whether he selected the vacancy himself, applied for the job or attended an interview being fully aware of the hours required.
Anti-social behaviour order, community order or community disposal
34411 Claimants may refuse employment because it would mean that they would break their anti social behaviour order, community order or community disposal taking into account any necessary travelling time. If claimants have tried unsuccessfully to get their order or disposal varied they would have good reason for refusing employment.
Claimant given incorrect details of employment
34412 Claimants may refuse or fail to apply for or accept a vacancy, and it may later be found that they have been given incorrect details about the vacancy.
34413 The DM should impose a sanction if
1. the claimant cannot show good reason for refusing a job on the terms wrongly notified and
2. the actual terms of the job would have been more favourable (1).
(1 R(U) 20/55)
34414 The DM should not impose a sanction if the claimant can show good reason for refusing a job on the terms they were wrongly notified. The DM does not need to consider whether the claimant could have shown good reason for refusing the job had the actual terms been known.
An adviser informs Dan about a vacancy as a packer in a local meat factory. He mistakenly tells Dan the rate of pay is £10 per hour. The actual rate is £12 per hour. Dan refuses to apply for the vacancy because in his last job, which ended two weeks ago, as he was paid more than £10 per hour as a packer. When considering good reason the DM treats the vacancy as if it was paying £10 per hour.
Zero hours contracts
34415 A claimant should never be mandated to apply for or accept a zero-hours contract but if the details of the zero-hours contract comes to light after the claimant starts work or during the application process then they will always have good reason for leaving voluntarily or due to misconduct, or for failing or refusing to accept the contract and a sanction should never apply.
34416 A zero-hour contract is a contract of employment used in the UK which is not defined in legislation and whilst meeting the terms of the relevant legislation (1) by providing a written statement of the terms and conditions of employment, contains provisions which create an “on call” arrangement between employer and employee. It does not oblige the employer to provide work for the employee. The employee agrees to be available for work as and when required, so that no particular number of hours or times of work are specified. The employee is expected to be on call and receives compensation only for hours worked.
(1 ER Act 96)
34417 Zero-hour contracts may be ideal for some people such as retirees and students who want occasional earnings and are able to be entirely flexible about when they work, but people in the general working population, including those with mortgages and responsibility for supporting a family, run the risk of unpredictable hours and earnings. The possibility of the use of such contracts by management as a tool to reward or reprimand employees for any reason or no reason raises issues about how workers can adequately assert their employment rights or maintain decent employment relations. Therefore there can be no mandation to any zero hours contract (exclusive or not) and there can be no sanction imposed for Refusing Employment, Leaving Voluntary or losing work because of misconduct.
Employee Shareholder Contracts
34418 Employee Shareholder Contracts are entirely voluntary and JSA claimants must not be mandated to apply for such vacancies. For further guidance on Employee Shareholder Contracts see DMG 34335.
34419 The reasons mentioned in this chapter are not exhaustive. The DM must consider any other reason the claimant puts forward for refusing or failing to apply for or accept employment applying the test of reasonableness in consideration of all the facts and evidence in the individual case. The DM should not just consider one factor but should consider the overall picture of the claimant’s individual circumstances.
Note: Where the claimant changes their mind or the vacancy is withdrawn there will be no refusal or failure and no need to consider good reason (see DMG 34723 and DMG 34724).
Circumstances that do not show good reason
34421 A claimant cannot refuse to apply for a job because of the rate of pay offered, except where this is below the NMW, (see DMG 34423) or because
1. of their income or outgoings or those of any member of their household (either as they were or would be if they took the job or carried out the work-related requirement. ‘Outgoings’ excludes expenses (such as for childcare) taken into account that would be an unreasonably high proportion of the claimant’s income
2. they argue they need a high wage because they have a large mortgage or an expensive lifestyle.
34422 The DM must disregard anything relating to the level of pay in the employment in question when deciding whether the claimant has good reason. The fact that the pay offered was
1. lower than the pay the claimant had previously received or
2. not enough to cover the claimant’s financial commitments or
3. lower than the pay received by most other employees in that occupation or
4. less than the claimant is getting in benefits are all related to the level of pay, and must be disregarded.
National minimum wage
34423 Claimants have good reason for refusing employment if they do so because
1. the national minimum wage applies to them and
2. the employment does not pay at least the national minimum wage that applies to them.
34424 – 34425
Reducing the possible length of a Permitted Period from 13 Weeks to 4 Weeks
Determining Entitlement to a Permitted Period