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The Universal Credit Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016

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CHAPTER 1WORK-RELATED REQUIREMENTS

Introductory

Definition of carer

84.  In this Chapter—

“relevant carer” means—

(a)

a parent of a child who is not the responsible carer, but has caring responsibilities for the child, or

(b)

a person who has caring responsibilities for a person who has a physical or mental impairment; and

“responsible foster parent” in relation to a child means a person who is the only foster parent in relation to that child or, in the case of a couple both members of which are foster parents in relation to that child, the member who is nominated by them in accordance with regulation 85.

Nomination of responsible carer and responsible foster parent

85.—(1) This regulation makes provision for the nomination of the responsible carer or the responsible foster parent in relation to a child.

(2) Only one of joint claimants may be nominated as a responsible carer or a responsible foster parent.

(3) The nomination applies to all the children, where there is more than one, for whom either of the joint claimants is responsible.

(4) Joint claimants may change which member is nominated—

(a)once in a 12 month period, starting from the date of the previous nomination, or

(b)on any occasion where the Department considers that there has been a change of circumstances which is relevant to the nomination.

References to paid work

86.  References in this Chapter to obtaining paid work include obtaining more paid work or better paid work.

Expected hours

87.—(1) The “expected number of hours per week” in relation to a claimant for the purposes of determining their individual threshold in regulation 89 or for the purposes of regulation 93 or 95 is 35 unless some lesser number of hours applies under paragraph (2).

(2) The lesser number of hours is—

(a)where—

(i)the claimant is a relevant carer, a responsible carer or a responsible foster parent, and

(ii)the Department is satisfied that the claimant has reasonable prospects of obtaining paid work,

the number of hours that the Department considers is compatible with those caring responsibilities;

(b)where the claimant is a responsible carer for a child under the age of 13, the number of hours that the Department considers is compatible with the child’s normal school hours (including the normal time it takes the child to travel to and from school), or

(c)where the claimant has a physical or mental impairment, the number of hours that the Department considers is reasonable in light of the impairment.

Work-related groups

Claimants subject to no work-related requirements

88.—(1) A claimant falls within Article 24 of the Order (claimants subject to no work-related requirements) if—

(a)the claimant has reached the qualifying age for state pension credit;

(b)the claimant has caring responsibilities for one or more severely disabled persons for at least 35 hours a week but does not meet the conditions for entitlement to a carer’s allowance and the Department is satisfied that it would be unreasonable to require the claimant to comply with a work search requirement and a work availability requirement, including if such a requirement were limited in accordance with Article 22(4) or 23(3) of the Order,

(c)the claimant is pregnant and it is 11 weeks or less before her expected week of confinement or was pregnant and it is 15 weeks or less since the date of her confinement,

(d)the claimant is an adopter and it is 12 months or less since—

(i)the date that the child was placed with the claimant, or

(ii)if the claimant requested that the 12 months should run from a date within 14 days before the child was expected to be placed, that date,

(e)the claimant does not have to meet the condition in Article 9(1)(d) of the Order (not receiving education) by virtue of regulation 14 and—

(i)is a person referred to in paragraph (a) of that regulation (under 21, in non-advanced education and without parental support), or

(ii)has student income in relation to the course they are undertaking which is taken into account in the calculation of the award, or

(f)the claimant is the responsible foster parent of a child under the age of one.

(2) In paragraph (1)(b) “severely disabled” has the meaning in section 70 of the Contributions and Benefits Act.

(3) In paragraph (1)(d)—

(a)“adopter” means a person who has been matched with a child for adoption and who is, or is intended to be, the responsible carer for the child, but excluding a person who is a foster parent, or close relative of the child, and

(b)a person is matched with a child for adoption when it is decided by an adoption agency that the person would be a suitable adoptive parent for the child.

Claimants subject to no work-related requirements - the earnings thresholds

89.—(1) A claimant falls within Article 24 of the Order (claimants subject to no work-related requirements) if the claimant’s monthly earnings are equal to or exceed the claimant’s individual threshold.

(2) A claimant’s individual threshold is the amount that a person of the same age as the claimant would be paid at the hourly rate applicable under regulation 4 or regulation 4A(1)(a) to (c) (workers who qualify for the national minimum wage at a different rate) of the National Minimum Wage Regulations for—

(a)16 hours per week, in the case of a claimant who would otherwise fall within Article 25 (claimants subject to work-focused interview requirement only) or 26 (claimants subject to work preparation requirement) of the Order, or

(b)the expected number of hours per week in the case of a claimant who would otherwise fall within Article 27 of the Order (claimants subject to all work-related requirements),

converted to a monthly amount by multiplying by 52 and dividing by 12.

(3) A claimant who is a member of a couple falls within Article 24 of the Order if the couple’s combined monthly earnings are equal to or exceed whichever of the following amounts is applicable—

(a)in the case of joint claimants, the sum of their individual thresholds, or

(b)in the case of a claimant who claims universal credit as a single person, by virtue of regulation 3(2) (couples) the sum of—

(i)the claimant’s individual threshold, and

(ii)the amount a person would be paid for 35 hours per week at the hourly rate specified in regulation 4 of the National Minimum Wage Regulations, converted to a monthly amount by multiplying by 52 and dividing by 12.

(4) A claimant falls within Article 24 of the Order (claimants subject to no work-related requirements) if the claimant is employed under a contract of apprenticeship and has monthly earnings that are equal to or exceed the amount the claimant would be paid for—

(a)30 hours a week, or

(b)if less, the expected number of hours per week for that claimant,

at the rate specified in regulation 4A(a)(d) of the National Minimum Wage Regulations, converted to a monthly amount by multiplying by 52 and dividing by 12.

(5) A claimant falls within Article 24 of the Order if the claimant is treated as having earned income in accordance with regulation 63 (minimum income floor) .

(6) A person’s monthly earnings are—

(a)the person’s earned income calculated or estimated in relation to the current assessment period before any deduction for income tax, national insurance contributions or relievable pension contributions, or

(b)in a case where the person’s earned income fluctuates (or is likely to fluctuate) the amount of that income calculated or estimated before any deduction for income tax, national insurance contributions or relievable pension contributions, taken as a monthly average—

(i)where there is an identifiable cycle, over the duration of one such cycle, or

(ii)where there is no identifiable cycle, over 3 months or such other period as may, in the particular case, enable the monthly average to be determined more accurately.

and the Department may, in order to enable monthly earnings to be determined more accurately, disregard earned income received in respect of an employment which has ceased.

Claimants subject to work-focused interview requirement only

90.—(1) For the purposes of Article 25(1)(a) of the Order (claimant is the responsible carer for a child aged at least one and under a prescribed age) the prescribed age is 5.

(2) A claimant falls within Article 25 of the Order if—

(a)the claimant is the responsible foster parent in relation to a child aged at least one,

(b)the claimant is the responsible foster parent in relation to a qualifying young person, and the Department is satisfied that the qualifying young person has care needs which make it unreasonable to require the claimant to comply with a work search requirement or a work availability requirement, including if such a requirement were limited in accordance with Article 22(4) or 23(3) of the Order,

(c)the claimant is a foster parent, but not the responsible foster parent, in relation to a child or qualifying young person, and the Department is satisfied that the child or qualifying young person has care needs which would make it unreasonable to require the claimant to comply with a work search requirement or a work availability requirement, including if such a requirement were limited in accordance with Article 22(4) or 23(3) of the Order,

(d)the claimant has fallen within sub-paragraph (a), (b) or (c) within the past 8 weeks and has no child or qualifying young person currently placed with them, but expects to resume being a foster parent, or

(e)the claimant has become a friend or family carer in relation to a child within the past 12 months and is also the responsible carer in relation to that child.

(3) In paragraph (2)(e) “friend or family carer” means a person who is responsible for a child, but is not the child’s parent or step-parent, and has undertaken the care of the child in the following circumstances—

(a)the child has no parent or has parents who are unable to care for the child, or

(b)it is likely that the child would otherwise be looked after by an authority because of concerns in relation to the child’s welfare.

The work-related requirements

Purposes of a work-focused interview

91.  The purposes of a work-focused interview are any or all of the following—

(a)assessing the claimant’s prospects for remaining in or obtaining paid work;

(b)assisting or encouraging the claimant to remain in or obtain paid work;

(c)identifying activities that the claimant may undertake that will make remaining in or obtaining paid work more likely;

(d)identifying training, educational or rehabilitation opportunities for the claimant which may make it more likely that the claimant will remain in or obtain paid work or be able to do so;

(e)identifying current or future work opportunities for the claimant that are relevant to the claimant’s needs and abilities;

(f)ascertaining whether a claimant is in gainful self-employment or meets the conditions in regulation 64 (start-up period).

Work search requirement - interviews

92.  A claimant is to be treated as not having complied with a work search requirement to apply for a particular vacancy for paid work where the claimant fails to participate in an interview offered to the claimant in connection with the vacancy.

Work search requirement - all reasonable action

93.—(1) A claimant is to be treated as not having complied with a work search requirement to take all reasonable action for the purpose of obtaining paid work in any week unless—

(a)either—

(i)the time which the claimant spends taking action for the purpose of obtaining paid work is at least the claimant’s expected number of hours per week minus any relevant deductions, or

(ii)the Department is satisfied that the claimant has taken all reasonable action for the purpose of obtaining paid work despite the number of hours that the claimant spends taking such action being lower than the expected number of hours per week; and

(b)that action gives the claimant the best prospects of obtaining work.

(2) In this regulation “relevant deductions” means the total of any time agreed by the Department—

(a)for the claimant to carry out paid work, voluntary work, a work preparation requirement, or voluntary work preparation, in that week; or

(b)for the claimant to deal with temporary childcare responsibilities, a domestic emergency, funeral arrangements or other temporary circumstances.

(3) For the purpose of paragraph (2)(a) the time agreed by the Department for the claimant to carry out voluntary work must not exceed 50 percent of the claimant’s expected number of hours per week.

(4) “Voluntary work preparation” means particular action taken by a claimant and agreed by the Department for the purpose of making it more likely that the claimant will obtain paid work, but which is not specified by it as a work preparation requirement under Article 21 of the Order.

Work availability requirement - able and willing immediately to take up paid work

94.—(1) Subject to paragraph (2) a claimant is to be treated as not having complied with a work availability requirement if the claimant is not able and willing immediately to attend an interview offered to the claimant in connection with obtaining paid work.

(2) A claimant is to be treated as having complied with a work availability requirement despite not being able immediately to take up paid work, if paragraph (3), (4) or (5) applies.

(3) This paragraph applies where—

(a)a claimant is a responsible carer or a relevant carer,

(b)the Department is satisfied that, as a consequence the claimant needs a longer period of up to one month to take up paid work, or up to 48 hours to attend an interview in connection with obtaining work, taking into account alternative care arrangements, and

(c)the claimant is able and willing to take up paid work, or attend an interview, on being given notice for that period.

(4) This paragraph applies where—

(a)a claimant is carrying out voluntary work,

(b)the Department is satisfied that, as a consequence, the claimant needs a longer period of up to one week to take up paid work, or up to 48 hours to attend an interview in connection with obtaining work, and

(c)the claimant is able and willing to take up paid work, or attend an interview, on being given notice for that period.

(5) This paragraph applies where a claimant—

(a)is employed under a contract of service,

(b)is required by Article 118 of the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996(1), or by the contract of service, to give notice to terminate the contract,

(c)is able and willing to take up paid work once the notice period has expired, and

(d)is able and willing to attend an interview on being given 48 hours notice.

Work search requirement and work availability requirement - limitations

95.—(1) Paragraphs (2) to (5) set out the limitations on a work search requirement and a work availability requirement.

(2) In the case of a claimant who is a relevant carer or a responsible carer or who has a physical or mental impairment, a work search and work availability requirement must be limited to the number of hours that is determined to be the claimant’s expected number of hours per week in accordance with regulation 87.

(3) A work search and work availability requirement must be limited to work that is in a location which would normally take the claimant—

(a)a maximum of 90 minutes to travel from home to the location, and

(b)a maximum of 90 minutes to travel from the location to home.

(4) Where a claimant has previously carried out work of a particular nature, or at a particular level of remuneration, a work search requirement and a work availability requirement must be limited to work of a similar nature, or level of remuneration, for such period as the Department considers appropriate; but only if it is satisfied that the claimant will have reasonable prospects of obtaining paid work in spite of such limitation.

(5) The limitation in paragraph (4) is to apply for no more than 3 months beginning with—

(a)the date of claim, or

(b)if later, the date on which the claimant ceases paid work after falling within Article 24 of the Order by virtue of regulation 89 (claimants subject to no work-related requirements - the earnings thresholds).

(6) Where a claimant has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial adverse effect on the claimant’s ability to carry out work of a particular nature, or in particular locations, a work search or work availability requirement must not relate to work of such a nature or in such locations.

Victims of domestic violence

96.—(1) Where a claimant has recently been a victim of domestic violence, and the circumstances set out in paragraph (4) apply—

(a)a work-related requirement imposed on that claimant ceases to have effect for a period of 13 consecutive weeks starting on the date of the notification referred to in paragraph (4)(a), and

(b)the Department must not impose any other work-related requirement on that claimant during that period.

(2) Where a claimant referred to in paragraph (1) is a person who falls within Article 27 of the Order (claimants subject to all work-related requirements) and is the responsible carer of a child, the Department must not impose a work search requirement or a work availability requirement on that claimant for a further period of 13 consecutive weeks beginning on the day after the period in paragraph (1)(a) expires.

(3) A person has recently been a victim of domestic violence if a period of 6 months has not expired since the violence was inflicted or threatened.

(4) The circumstances are that—

(a)the claimant notifies the Department, in such manner as it specifies, that domestic violence has been inflicted on or threatened against the claimant by the claimant’s partner or former partner or by a family member during the period of 6 months ending on the date of the notification,

(b)this regulation has not applied to the claimant for a period of 12 months before the date of the notification,

(c)on the date of the notification the claimant is not living at the same address as the person who inflicted or threatened the domestic violence, and

(d)as soon as possible, and no later than one month after the date of the notification, the claimant provides evidence from a person acting in an official capacity which demonstrates that—

(i)the claimant’s circumstances are consistent with those of a person who has had domestic violence inflicted or threatened against them during the period of 6 months ending on the date of the notification, and

(ii)the claimant has made contact with the person acting in an official capacity in relation to such an incident, which occurred during that period.

(5) In this regulation—

“coercive behaviour” means an act of assault, humiliation or intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten the victim;

“controlling behaviour” means an act designed to make a person subordinate or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance or escape or regulating their everyday behaviour;

“domestic violence” means any incident, or pattern of incidents, of controlling behaviour, coercive behaviour, violence or abuse, including but not limited to—

(a)

psychological abuse;

(b)

physical abuse;

(c)

sexual abuse;

(d)

emotional abuse;

(e)

financial abuse,

regardless of gender or sexuality of the victim;

“family member” in relation to a claimant, means the claimant’s grandparent, grandchild. parent, step-parent, parent-in-law, son, step-son, son-in-law, daughter, step-daughter, daughter-in-law, brother, step-brother, brother-in-law, sister, step-sister, sister-in-law and if any of those persons is a member of a couple, the other member of the couple;

“health care professional” means a person who is a member of a profession regulated by a body mentioned in section 25(3) of the National Health Service Reform and Health Care Professions Act 2002(2);

“person acting in an official capacity” means a health care professional, a police officer, a registered social worker, the claimant’s employer, a representative of the claimant’s trade union, or any public, voluntary or charitable body which has had direct contact with the claimant in connection with domestic violence;

“registered social worker” means a person registered as a social worker in a register maintained by—

(a)

the Northern Ireland Social Care Council(3);

(b)

the Health and Care Professions Council;

(c)

the Care Council for Wales, or

(d)

the Scottish Social Services Council.

Circumstances in which requirements must not be imposed

97.—(1) Where paragraph (6), (7), (8) or (14) applies—

(a)the Department must not impose a work search requirement on a claimant, and

(b)“able and willing to immediately take up work” under a work availability requirement means able and willing to take up paid work, or attend an interview, immediately once the circumstances set out in paragraph (6), (7), (8), or (14) no longer apply.

(2) A work search requirement previously applying to the claimant ceases to have effect from the date on which the circumstances set out in paragraph (6), (7), (8), or (14) begin to apply.

(3) Where paragraph (11) applies—

(a)the Department must not impose a work search requirement on a claimant, and

(b)a work search requirement previously applying to the claimant ceases to have effect from the date on which the circumstances set out in paragraph (11) begin to apply.

(4) Where paragraph (12) applies “able and willing to immediately take up work” under a work availability requirement means able and willing to take up paid work or to attend an interview, immediately once the circumstances set out in paragraph (12) no longer apply.

(5) Where paragraph (13) applies “able and willing to immediately take up work” under a work availability requirement means—

(a)able and willing to take up paid work immediately once the circumstances set out in paragraph (13) no longer apply, and

(b)able and willing to attend an interview before those circumstances no longer apply.

(6) This paragraph applies where—

(a)the claimant is attending court or tribunal as a party to any proceedings or as a witness,

(b)the claimant is a prisoner,

(c)regulation 11(3) (temporary absence from Northern Ireland for treatment or convalescence) applies to the claimant,

(d)any of the following persons has died within the past 6 months—

(i)where the claimant was a member of a couple, the other member,

(ii)a child or qualifying young person for whom the claimant or, where the claimant is a member of a couple, the other member, was responsible, or

(iii)a child, where the claimant was the child’s parent,

(e)the claimant is, and has been for no more than 6 months, receiving and participating in a structured recovery-orientated course of alcohol or drug dependency treatment,

(f)the claimant is, and has been for no more than 3 months, a person for whom arrangements have been made by a protection provider under section 82 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005(4), or

(g)the claimant is engaged in an activity of a kind approved by the Department as being in the nature of a public duty.

(7) This paragraph applies where the claimant—

(a)is unfit for work—

(i)for a period of no more than 14 consecutive days after the date that the evidence referred to in sub-paragraph (b) is provided, and

(ii)for no more than 2 such periods in any period of 12 months, and

(b)provides to the Department the following evidence—

(i)for the first 7 days when they are unfit for work, a declaration made by the claimant in such manner and form as the Department approves that the claimant is unfit for work, and

(ii)for any further days when they are unfit for work, if requested by the Department, a statement given by a doctor in accordance with the rules set out in Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Medical Evidence Regulations()which provides that the person is not fit for work.

(8) This paragraph applies for one or more periods of one month, as provided for in paragraphs (9) and (10), where the claimant is the responsible carer of a child and an event referred to in subparagraph (a) or (b) has taken place in the last 24 months and has resulted in significant disruption to the claimant’s normal childcare responsibilities-

(a)any of the following persons has died-

(i)a person who was previously the responsible carer of that child,

(ii)a parent of that child,

(iii)a brother or sister of that child, or

(iv)any other person who, at the time of their death, normally lived in the same accommodation as that child and was not a person who was liable to make payments on a commercial basis in respect of that accommodation, or

(b)the child has been the victim of, or witness to, an incident of violence or abuse and the claimant is not the perpetrator of that violence or abuse.

(9) Paragraph (8) is not to apply for more than one period of one month in each of the 4 consecutive periods of 6 months following the event (and, if regulation 96 or paragraph (6)(d) of this regulation applies in respect of the same event, that month is to run concurrently with any period for which that regulation or paragraph applies).

(10) Each period of one month begins on the date specified by the Department after the claimant has notified it of the circumstances in paragraph (8) provided that it is satisfied that the circumstances apply.

(11) This paragraph applies where the Department is satisfied that it would be unreasonable to require the claimant to comply with a work search requirement including if such a requirement were limited in accordance with Article 22(4) of the Order, because the claimant—

(a)is carrying out a work preparation requirement or voluntary work preparation (as defined in regulation 93(4) (work search requirement – all reasonable action)),

(b)has temporary child care responsibilities or is dealing with a domestic emergency, funeral arrangements or other temporary circumstances, or

(c)is unfit for work for longer than the period of 14 days specified in paragraph (7)(a) or for more than 2 such periods in any period of 12 months and, where requested by the Department, provides the evidence mentioned in paragraph (7)(b)(ii).

(12) This paragraph applies where the Department is satisfied that it would be unreasonable to require the claimant to comply with a work availability requirement to be able and willing to—

(a)take up paid work, and

(b)attend an interview,

(including if such a requirement were limited in accordance with Article 23(3) of the Order) because the claimant falls within sub-paragraph (a), (b) or (c) of paragraph (11).

(13) This paragraph applies where the Department is satisfied that it would be—

(a)unreasonable to require the claimant to comply with a work availability requirement to be able and willing to take up paid work because the claimant falls within paragraph (11)(a), (b) or (c), and

(b)reasonable to require the claimant to comply with a work availability requirement to be able and willing to attend an interview,

including if such requirement were limited in accordance with Article 23(3) of the Order.

(14) This paragraph applies where the claimant has monthly earnings or, if the claimant is a member of a couple, the couple has combined monthly earnings (excluding in either case any that are not employed earnings) that are equal to, or more than, the following amount multiplied by 52 and divided by 12—

(a)in the case of a single claimant, £5 plus the applicable amount of the personal allowance in a jobseeker’s allowance for a single person aged 25 or over (as set out in Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Jobseeker’s Allowance Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996(5)), or

(b)in the case of a claimant who is a member of a couple, £10 plus the applicable amount of the personal allowance in a jobseeker’s allowance for a couple where both members are aged 18 or over (as set out in that Part).

(15) In paragraph (14) “employed earnings” has the meaning in regulation 55 (employed earnings).

(16) In this regulation “tribunal” means any tribunal listed in Schedule 1 to the Tribunals and Inquiries Act 1992(6).

(1)

S.I. 1996/1919 (N.I. 16); Article 118 was amended by paragraph 2(5) of Schedule 2 to, S.R. 2002 No. 298.

(2)

2002 c. 17; section 25(3) was amended by the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (c.14) and S.I. 2010/231.

(3)

The Northern Ireland Social Care Council was established under section 1 of the Health and Personal Services Act (Northern Ireland) 2001 c.3. (NI).

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