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If you can't keep to your jobseeker's agreement

This advice applies to Scotland

Tell your local Jobcentre quickly if you can’t keep to your jobseeker’s agreement - also known as a claimant commitment. If you don’t, your Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) might be reduced or stopped - this is called a sanction.

You’ll need to do this even for temporary problems like being ill or delays on public transport.

Keep evidence if you can - it might be useful later if you need to prove what happened. For example, keep an email from the school if you were called to an urgent meeting about your child.

If you can’t go to an interview or training, contact the person you were supposed to meet. Explain you can’t go and say why.

When you can change your jobseeker's agreement

You can ask to change any part of your jobseeker's agreement, but you’ll need your work coach to agree to it. This is the person you meet when you sign on.
You can ask for changes because the agreement wasn’t realistic from the start or because of a change in your situation. For example:

  • you didn’t understand what your agreement included when you signed it and it’s hard for you to keep to
  • there aren’t many vacancies in your area so you want to apply for fewer jobs
  • your health has got worse so you can’t do as many types of work
  • you’re spending longer caring for someone so need to change the times you can work

How to change your jobseeker's agreement

Ask as soon as possible, because you’ll need to keep to your current jobseeker's agreement until your work coach has agreed to change it.

Talk to your work coach next time you sign on, unless you've been told to request changes through an online account. If you can't wait until the next time you sign on, call your local Jobcentre to ask for an appointment.

You have to put your request in writing as well as discussing it, so write a letter to your work coach and take it with you. It should say:

  • why you can’t meet your agreement
  • what you’d like it to be changed to
  • how long the change will last

Take some proof, for example a letter from your doctor to show your health has got worse and you can’t job hunt for as long as before.

Your work coach is more likely to agree if you say how changing your agreement will make it easier to get a job. For example, if you have depression you could explain that reducing the hours you job hunt will help your concentration - so you’ll be able to write better applications.

If your work coach agrees with the change, they’ll update the jobseeker's agreement and you’ll both sign it while you’re together.

Report changes to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

If your situation’s changed, you might also need to report this in writing to the DWP because it could affect the amount of JSA you get. You have to do this separately from asking your work coach about changing your jobseeker's agreement. 

You can check if you need to report a change in writing.

If your work coach doesn't agree with changing your jobseeker's agreement

You can ask for someone else to look at your request, but you’ll need to keep to your current agreement until they decide.

How it’s looked at depends on the type of JSA you’re getting. There are 3 types of JSA:

  • income-based
  • contribution-based
  • new style

New style JSA is part of the Universal Credit system. As Universal Credit rolls out, new style JSA is replacing ‘old style’ contribution-based JSA.

If you don’t know what JSA you’re getting, check the letter confirming you started getting JSA or contact your work coach to find out.

If you're getting income-based JSA or contribution-based JSA, the process you can follow is called mandatory reconsideration.

If you’re getting new style JSA, you should complain to the Jobcentre instead. Write to your work coach saying what you asked for and that you disagree with it being rejected. Explain your reasons again and include any evidence you have - think about whether there’s any new evidence that you’ve got since you first talked to your work coach. Take the letter when you sign on, or you can email it.

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