This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Zero hours contracts and work related requirements under UC'.

 
 
 
DWP Central Freedom of Information Team
Annex A 
 
e-mail: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx@xxx.xxx.  
gov.uk
 
Our Ref: VTR 5635
 
 

17 December 2013 
 
 
Dear Glenys Harriman, 
 
Thank you for your Freedom of Information request received 29 November 2013. You asked: 
 
If a claimant is on UC he/she could be subject to full work related requirements (and 
face sanctions for failure to keep to them) if they are earning less than their individual 
"threshold"  normally 35 hrs pw @ minimum wage. 
 
What happens if someone is on a zero hours contract and doesn't know from day to day 
how many hours they will work? Will the DWP make an assumption that during that 
week there will be no work (and therefore a requirement to look for work for 35 hrs 
during that week) until such point as work arises? Or is there some other method of 
deciding? 
 

Firstly I will explain a little about the Freedom of Information Act. The Act provides people with 
a right of access to recorded information held by public authorities such as DWP. The Act does 
not extend to requests for views, comments or questions about a particular matter. Your 
request can be in the form of a question, but DWP does not have to answer if this would mean 
creating information that is not already held in a recorded form. 
 
However, in the interests of customer service, we have done our utmost to provide information 
we believe to be most relevant.  
 
We expect claimants to do all they reasonably can to look for and move into paid work. This is 
simpler under Universal Credit, which is payable in and out of work and ensures that 
entitlement will not end when earnings pass particular thresholds until a claimant is earning 
enough to leave Universal Credit altogether.  This reduces the risks associated with a move 
into employment that exists in the current system.  
 
As you have identified, a conditionality framework sets out the basic structure of policy “rules” 
that govern the application of work related requirements. The cornerstone of the conditionality 
framework is the conditionality group a claimant falls into (which applies to both in work and 
out of work claimants) and defines what requirements can be imposed based on individual 
circumstances.   
 
Where a claimant has earnings below the conditionality earnings threshold they will fall into the 
All Work Related Requirements group and will normally be expected to meet requirements to 
look and be available for work. Any other work-related requirements can also be imposed. 
 
 

A conditionality earnings threshold is in place to ensure that claimants earning above a certain 
level will not be asked to carry out work-related activity. This will normally be 35 hours x 
NMW). Claimants earning less than the conditionality earnings threshold may be asked to 
carry out relevant actions to increase their earnings (based on individual circumstances such 
as health, caring responsibilities etc.). An administrative earnings threshold has been 
introduced to ensure that only those claimants who would currently be eligible for the existing 
out of work benefits will fall into an active labour market regime. The threshold has been set at 
£330 a month for a single person and £525 a month for a couple (based on gross taxable pay). 
 
Universal Credit is designed to be responsive to fluctuations in earnings and will reflect the 
amount earned by a claimant each month. Monthly reporting through Real Time Information 
allows Universal Credit to be adjusted on a monthly basis ensuring that if a claimant’s income 
falls, they will not have to wait several months for a rise in their award.   
 
For conditionality, those claimants with variable earnings, or who move in and out of work, an 
assessment will be made of their future earnings over a sustained period. For the purposes of 
calculating the Universal Credit award a sustained period means: 
 
 one 
month; 
or 
  where a claimant’s earnings fluctuate over an identifiable cycle up to 12 months, the 
duration of one such cycle; or 
  3 months where a claimant’s earnings fluctuate, but not over an identifiable cycle. 
 
Consideration will be given to whether it is reasonable to assume that the pattern will continue 
or that the claimant will be working over the coming period and evidence provided by the 
claimants. This could include contracts for future work and/or a review of past earnings.   
 
We expect claimants to do all they reasonably can to look for and move into paid work. If a 
claimant turns down a particular vacancy (including zero hour contract jobs) a sanction may be 
applied but we will look into the circumstances of the case and consider whether they had a 
good reason. 
If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference number 
above.   
Yours sincerely,  
 
 
DWP Central FoI Team 
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Your right to complain under the Freedom of Information Act 
 
If you are not happy with this response you may request an internal review by e-mailing freedom-of-information-
xxxxxxx@xxx.xxx.xxx.xx or by writing to DWP, Central FoI Team, Caxton House, Tothill Street, SW1H 9NA. Any 
review request should be submitted within two months of the date of this letter.  
 
If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review you may apply directly to the Information 
Commissioner’s Office for a decision. Generally the Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have 
exhausted our own complaints procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information 
Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF www.ico.gov.uk