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Jobseeker's Allowance Sanctions

A new Jobseeker's Allowance sanction regime was introduced in October 2012. If you are claiming Jobseeker's Allowance, you may have a sanction applied in a number of different circumstances.

You may be subject to a sanction if you:

  • left your job voluntarily, lost your job due to misconduct or you fail to apply for or accept a job
  • fail to show that you are available for work and actively seeking work
  • fail to attend a compulsory training or employment scheme
  • fail to carry out a direction from a Jobcentre Plus Personal Adviser.

In certain circumstances, your Jobseeker's Allowance may be disallowed entirely - for example, if you are found not to be actively seeking work. This brings your Jobseeker's Allowance claim to an end and you will have to make another claim in order to re-qualify for Jobseeker's Allowance. In some situations, a sanction can be applied after a disallowance.

How much will a sanction be?  

  • If you are single the amount of a sanction will be 100% of your Jobseeker's Allowance for the period for which the sanction applies.
  • If you are part of a joint claim couple and you have both failed to comply, the sanction will be 100% of your couple rate of Jobseeker's Allowance.
  • If you are part of a couple but only one of you has failed to comply, then the sanction will reduce the couple rate of Jobseeker's Allowance to the single person rate (so the member of the couple who has not failed to comply will receive their appropriate personal rate). 

How long will a sanction last?

The new sanction regime has three levels of sanctions which last for set periods of time depending on what you may have failed to do.

SanctionFirst FailureSecond FailureThird Failure

Lower Level Sanction

Fixed period sanction for:

  • refusal/failure to attend an adviser interview
  • refusal/failure to participate in an employment programme or training scheme
  • refusal/failure to comply with a Jobseeker Direction
  • refusal/failure to attend, or loses through misconduct, a place on an employment programme or training scheme.
4 weeks13 weeks13 weeks

Intermediate Level Sanction

Only applied following a period of disallowance for:

  • not being available for work
  • not actively seeking work.
4 weeks13 weeks13 weeks

Higher Level Sanction

Fixed period sanction for:

  • leaving a job voluntarily without good reason
  • losing a job through misconduct
  • refusal/failure to apply for, or accept if offered, a suitable job without good reason
  • refusal/failure to participate in mandatory work activity without good reason. 
13 weeks26 weeks156 weeks

Good reason why a sanction should not be applied

A sanction will not be applied if you can show that you had good reason for your action that led to a sanction being considered. Good reason is not defined in legislation, but will depend on your circumstances. The guidance for decision makers suggests that the following factors should be taken into account when deciding whether a claimant has good reason for their actions:

If you are a victim of domestic violence you can be treated as available for and actively seeking work for up to 13 weeks. Even after that 13 week period a fear of domestic violence may mean you have good reason for refusing or leaving employment

  • If you have a mental health condition or disorder, or if you are homeless
  • If you are a victim of bullying or harassment at work, or you left your job because you were a whistle blower.

People with disabilities and carers

If you have a disability or are a carer, you will have good reason for giving up a job or not accepting a job offer if the travelling time would be unreasonable given your caring responsibilities or your health.  In the first 13 weeks of your Jobseeker's Allowance claim you would have good reason for not accepting a job offer if the travelling time to work is more than one hour each way. After 13 weeks you would only have good reason if the travelling time was more than one and a half hours each way.

Challenging a sanction decision

If you disagree with a sanction or disallowance decision, you can ask for it  to be looked at again.  This is called an mandatory reconsideration.  If the decision is not revised in your favour, you can then appeal against the decision.   

Hardship Payments

You may be able to apply for Hardship Payments if your Jobseeker's Allowance is subject to a sanction.  These are payable at a reduced amount.  

Crisis Grants

In some circumstances, you may be able to get a Crisis Grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund if your benefit is subject to a sanction. 

Last modified on 14 December 2022

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