s by phone
Government easing of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions means that
the requirement for a claimant to accept a claimant commitment has
All new claimants must accept a claimant commitment regardless of
what Labour Market regime they are allocated to.
Claimants in the Intensive work search, Work preparation and Work
focused interview only regimes will now need to have a First
Commitments appointment by phone.
This helps work coaches to:
provide individuals with the information, advice and help they need
address barriers that make finding work more difficult, for example, a
health problem, poor work search skills or coronavirus restrictions
identify the work a claimant is expected to look for and be available for
agree work search and work preparation activities
Whenever there are work related requirements, claimants must be
advised that there is a risk of Universal Credit payments being reduced if
not carried out.
Face to face support is available in jobcentres for claimants who cannot
access our services by telephone or online. Please see Coronavirus
Booking the first commitments
appointment by phone
First commitments appointment by phone are 30 minutes.
The ‘Book first commitments appointment’ to-do is automatically
Agents can follow the instructions in the ‘Book first commitments
appointment’ to-do when booking appointments.
First commitments appointment by
It is essential that the claimant’s identity is confirmed before discussing
any personal details.
The appointment should facilitate:
a positive, individual and supporting relationship that treats each
claimant as an individual
an understanding of how close the claimant might already be to getting
work, moving closer to work or increasing their earnings
confirmation the claimant fully understands their responsibilities and the
consequences of not carrying them out
confirmation the claimant understands to tell us of any changes in
a summary of what has been agreed in the meeting
Building claimant commitments
Guidance around claimant commitments has not changed. Work
coaches should consider current coronavirus restrictions and National
and local health advice when supporting claimants.
It is important that claimants are only asked to do what is reasonable
under the current coronavirus restrictions and health advice.
In these times work coaches are able to agree reduced claimant
availability on an individual basis, even if that means reducing to zero
Work coaches should tailor claimant commitments for all claimants.
These should be personalised, whilst taking into consideration those
have declared a health condition that restricts their ability to work
are caring for vulnerable relatives, friends and neighbours
have child care responsibilities
have been affected by school closures
This list is not exhaustive.
For claimants who can prepare and look for work, work coaches must
provide information on the support available to help them get back to
Work coaches must agree with the claimant reasonable work search
activities that allow them to look for work safely. Work coaches must
also agree the hours that the claimant is available for work.
Specific work search and work preparation activities can be set as
voluntary where appropriate.
Work coaches must ensure the claimant is clear on the potential
consequences if they fail to comply with mandatory requirements.
Meetings with my work coach
The first intervention after the commitment interview must be a 10 -
minute telephone work search review. For more information, please see
spotlight: Work search reviews by phone.
After the first telephone work search review, work coaches should tailor
the interventions using a mixture of phone and digital channels.
Work coaches have the flexibility to decide whether a digital work search
review is appropriate. This depends on:
the claimant’s digital skills
whether they have recorded their activity in their account
Work coaches must explain to claimants:
the importance of recording work search activity on their account
that between work search reviews by phone appointments, their account
will be reviewed for work search activities
that if the claimant fails to carry out reasonable work search activities
this may result in a reduction in their Universal Credit payment
Work coaches should discuss and agree with the claimant a suitable
time for the next phone appointment.
Work coaches should explain to claimants the importance of
participating in future interventions and the help and support we can
If claimants can’t attend their appointment they should be advised to get
in contact via their journal, and do this before the appointment if
possible, but if not as soon as they can after.
Work coaches must make it clear to claimants that if they have good
reason for missing an appointment, no further action will be taken. The
claimant must always get in contact via their journal to let us know what
Unless easements are applied, claimants in the Intensive work search
regime must have a fortnightly phone or digital work search review.
A minimum of one intervention in every 3 interventions must be a 10-
minute telephone work search review.
There are no changes to the frequency of interventions for claimants in
the Work preparation and Work focused interview regimes.
Labour market activities
It is important that work coaches continue to identify and support
should be on the health journey
have complex needs
Claimants must not be required to undertake any activities that would
put them at unreasonable risk or in breach of existing national and local
public health guidelines on coronavirus.
The coronavirus pandemic has placed restrictions on many services
claimants rely on, including public transport, recruitment, childcare /
schools, and other facilities – for example libraries/community centres.
Coronavirus restrictions must be taken into account when setting
claimant requirements around:
availability of jobs
reasonable work search expectations
availability for work
Claimants must be made aware that they will need to use online services
to maintain their claim and to job search.
All claimants must accept their commitments. Couples must both accept
their own individual commitments for the household to qualify for
Whenever commitments are updated they must be accepted by the
Encourage the claimant to log in to their account and complete ‘Accept
Explain the consequences to the claimant, that unless they accept their
commitments, they won’t get paid and their claim will close.
If the claimant is unable to access their account to accept their
commitments, the work coach must:
read the commitments to the claimant
ensure the claimant understands their commitments
ensure the claimant agrees and accepts their commitments
The work coach must then:
accept the commitments on the claimant’s behalf
add a history which must contain the reason
The history note should read:
'Covid related claimant commitments. Claimant commitments read out
and verbally accepted by the claimant. Claimant is unable to accept
claimant commitments digitally due to [insert reason why]'
For further updates regarding coronavirus please see, Coronavirus
Telephone interviews tips
Work coaches should preview the claim before calling the claimant.
1. Tell the claimant what they can expect
Be clear about the purpose of the appointment.
Be clear about what the claimant commitment is for and the claimant’s
Tell the claimant that the meetings will last 30 minutes.
2. Let them know you’re listening
Verbal nods let the claimant know that you are listening without
interrupting their flow. Saying "OK" or verbal affirmations, gives the
claimant cues that you're still on the line and listening.
3. Take notes
Make a note of points you want to talk about. Don't interrupt the flow of
the conversation early on.
4. Ask questions
Asking open questions can help claimants to consider things from
another point of view.
How do you think you could do that?
What help do you think you would need?
How might the other person think and feel about that?