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Getting a job or pay increase while on Universal Credit

This advice applies to England

If you accept a job offer or pay increase

You should contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) straight away to:

  • tell them who your employer is and when the job will start
  • see if you can apply for childcare costs
  • book an appointment with your work coach to review your claimant commitment

You can report changes in your circumstances by:

  • using your Universal Credit online account if you have one
  • calling the helpline

Universal Credit helpline (live service)
Telephone: 0800 328 9344
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls to these numbers are free.

Refusing a job offer or pay increase

Whether or not you can refuse a job offer or pay increase depends on what’s in your claimant commitment.

Your claimant commitment says you don’t have to get a job

You don’t have to get a job or increase your hours or pay. If you’re thinking of getting a job, you should consider how your earnings will reduce your Universal Credit payment and whether or not you’ll be better off.

Your claimant commitment says you do have to get a job

You’ll have agreed with your work coach what type of work you’d look for, including hours and pay. If you don’t accept an offer that matches (or nearly matches) what you agreed, you'll probably be sanctioned. This means having your Universal Credit temporarily reduced.

If the job offer isn’t appropriate for you and your circumstances

You could argue that you have a good reason for refusing the job offer. If you want to do this, you’ll need to talk to your work coach about it straight away. There’s no set definition of what counts as a good reason, but the DWP should be reasonable and take into account your circumstances and views.

Examples of what may be taken into account when deciding good reason include:

  • the hours offered would make it impossible for you to pick up your children from school
  • it would take over 90 minutes to get to work (you’re usually expected to travel up to 90 minutes to work)
  • travel costs to the job would be too high to make it worthwhile
  • childcare costs would be too high to make it worthwhile
  • the job would have a negative impact on your mental health condition
  • the job would put your physical health at risk
  • the job would have a detrimental impact on your caring responsibilities
  • you have a sincere religious or conscientious objection to the type of work

Although your reasons (including the examples listed above) will be taken into account, the DWP will consider all your personal circumstances in making a decision on whether or not to sanction you for refusing an offer. One good reason in itself, such as ill-health, might not be enough to stop you being sanctioned.

If the job offer is less hours, lower pay or a different type of job to what you agreed in your claimant commitment, you’ll still be expected to take it. These won't be considered good reasons for refusing a job offer, unless you can argue that your travel or childcare costs will be too high to make a lower paid job worthwhile. If you don’t accept the job offer, you’re likely to be sanctioned.

If the job is more hours than you’ve agreed, your work coach may still encourage you to take it. If you don’t want to, explain why to your work coach and remind them why you only agreed to limited hours in the first place, eg because of your health, or childcare commitments. If DWP decide to sanction you for refusing a job offer in these circumstances, you might be able to challenge the sanction.

Getting your claimant commitment changed

If your personal circumstances have changed since your claimant commitment was last discussed, and it has an impact on the type or hours of work you could do, you may be able to get your claimant commitment changed. For example, if your child has started school you might want to reduce the hours you could work.

How increased income from a job will affect your Universal Credit payment

Universal Credit will give you a monthly ‘work allowance’. This is how much money you can earn without it affecting your Universal Credit payment.

As a rough guide, for every £1 you earn over your allowance, 63p will be taken away from your total Universal Credit payment.

Your earnings are what you get from your employer each month after tax, National Insurance and pension contributions are deducted.

If you’re self-employed, there are specific rules about how your earnings are calculated.

If you’d like some help to work out whether you’d be financially better off taking a job or increased pay, you can contact your local Citizens Advice.

If you get help from Universal Credit towards your mortgage interest payments, you’ll lose that money if you start work.

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