Spotlight on: Sanction
We need to deliver work that is based on the principles of fairness, compassion, respect and dignity. This will ensure we
are making informed and reasonable conclusions. This is particularly relevant when considering sanction referrals and
We need to acknowledge this is a considerable challenge, particularly when the signs of a claimant’s needs are invisible
or not always obvious.
If people can look for work, we want them to be available for work and engage with the support that is offered.
This support must be carefully tailored to their personal circumstances, so they can move into work or increase their
Sanctions must only be used when:
the claimant hasn’t given a good reason for not undertaking their agreed work -related activity
consideration of the claimant’s personal circumstances has been taken into account
Whilst work coaches are primarily supportive, they must also ensure that the claimant is clear about the potential
consequences if they fail to comply with mandatory requirements.
Team leader checks
The work coach must have a team leader case conference before making any Labour Market decision maker referrals.
The case conference must take place with a team leader and should only be delegated to a deputy if the team leader is
The team leader must be satisfied that the agreed requirement was appropriate at the time of the failure and that all
safeguards (including the additional local and national public health guidelines) have been taken into account.
The outcome of the team leader case conference must be recorded in ‘Claimant history’.
The Claimant Commitment is crucial. It must be a tailored, personalised commitment that reflects the local jobs market
and the claimant’s personal circumstances - and supporting a return to work.
See First commitments by phone appointment for more information.
The Claimant Commitment must be reviewed regularly and revised where appropriate - for example, in the light of
emerging claimant needs and fluctuating individual and local circumstances including coronavirus related restrictions.
In some circumstances, a claimant’s work-related requirements may need to be 'switched-off' for a period of time. This is
called an easement.
Easements can be a legal requirement or it can be discretionary where it is unreasonable to expect the c laimant to
complete their requirements for a period of time.
See Switching-off work availability and work-related activities.
Care leavers must have their individual circumstances taken into account with conditional ity requirements tailored to their
The care leaver single point of contact (SPOC) must be contacted for any additional information when considering a
sanction referral for a care leaver.
The care leaver SPOC will contact the local authority personal advisor (or equivalent representative in Scotland) for
Any additional information received will then be included in the referral to the decision maker.
As local and national public health guidelines can change, previously agreed and t ailored work-related activities may no
longer be relevant and appropriate.
When reviewing the Claimant Commitment, the work coach must ensure that agreed activities are still reasonable and
Before considering a site leader case conference, the work coach must have a discussion with the claimant to identify and
understand any barriers or circumstances that may have had an impact on their work -related activities.
It is important that a case conference takes place with the team leader prior to any referral to the decision maker.
Claimant’s work-related activity
Sanction referrals must only be considered if a claimant cannot provide any evidence of work search or fails to undertake
When considering a possible sanction referral, the work coach must gather evidence and review any changes in the
claimant’s circumstances taking into account:
pandemic (for example, COVID-19)
See Complex needs.
If the work coach feels that the claimant has not taken reasonable steps to search for work, they must gather information
what the claimant has done
why the claimant has not done more
This information must then be taken into the team leader case conference.
Failure to attend
The work coach must follow the fail to attend process in the coronavirus guidance.
The work coach must undertake a pre-referral case conference with a team leader when:
good reason has not been accepted from the list of acceptable good reasons
they have been unable to contact the claimant
the claimant has already had three consecutive good reason decisions
If it is agreed that a fail to attend sanction referral is appropr iate, the following information must be included:
any information provided by the claimant
details of any complex needs
details of any health issues
pandemic (for example, Covid-19)
The referral must also include details of the team leader case conference.
The work coach must not make local decisions to impose a sanction.
In all cases, subsequent appointments must only be booked by the work coach if contact is established with the claimant.
Making a Labour Market referral
The work coach can accept good reason for fail to attend decisions locally - all other Labour Market considerations must
be referred to a Labour Market decision maker for a decision.
Before a sanction referral is made, the work coach must ensure all relevant information is included.
When making a referral, the work coach must include the claimant’s:
reasons for lack of work-related activity
complex needs if appropriate
any underlying health conditions if appropriate
The referral must also include details of the team leader case conference.
Sanctions can only be imposed by a Labour Market decision maker. Under no circumstances should the work coach
impose a sanction.
Action for the decision maker
The decision maker must check to make sure all relevant information has been included in the referral - especially
evidence of the pre-referral team leader case conference. This must be noted in ’Claimant history’.
If it cannot be confirmed that a pre-referral team leader case conference has been undertaken, the decision maker must
cancel and return the referral.
Decision maker team leader check
If the decision maker considers that a sanction is appropriate, a case conference must be held between the decision
maker and their team leader. This is to determine if (in the particular circumstances of that case) the correct course of
action is to apply a sanction.
It may be necessary to also contact the work coach - for example, when new information becomes available.
The outcome of the case conference must be recorded in ‘Claimant history’.
Action after the open-ended sanction is applied
The work coach must routinely check their caseload to identify claimants with an open -ended sanction - and make at least
monthly attempts to re-engage with them by phone or journal.
If contact is made, ensure the claimant understands why they have been sanctioned as well as how to bring it to an end.
Advise the claimant on the availability of a Recoverable Hardship Payment.
Record all contacts with the claimant and any outcomes in ‘Claimant history’.
Closing open-ended sanctions
The work coaches and team leaders must make sure open-ended sanctions are closed in the appropriate circumstances,
where the claimant meets the compliance condition
where the claimant is no longer required to comply - for example, a change in conditionality regime, a change of
circumstances that means the requirement is no longer appropriate (for example, sickness) or any switching -off of
at claim closure or when entitlement to Universal Credit is reduced to zero by earnings, income or capital