Mandated access to a Universal Jobmatch account

Frank Zola made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

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The request was successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Can you confirm that Jobcentre Advisers have authority to issue sanction based Jobseeker's Directions (JD) requiring
mandated DWP access to a Universal Jobmatch (UJ) account for:

1.1 Anyone claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)?
1.2 Anyone leaving mandated Work Programme (WP) provision, after they have completed 2 years on it and continuing to
claim JSA?

2. Please email a copy of the information Jobcentre staff have access to concerning how they should work with and support people leaving WP provision, after they have completed 2 years on it and continuing to claim JSA?

Within your Universal Credit (UC) pilot, can you confirm that Jobcentre Advisers have authority to issue a sanction based Claimant Commitment requiring mandated DWP access to a Universal Jobmatch account for:

3.1 Any specific individual claiming Universal Credit?
3.2 Everyone claiming Universal Credit?

4. Please supply information of any DWP proposals/ideas/dicsussions to require all people claiming JSA or UC, either as a integrated part of a JSA or UC claim or via JD or a CC, to give DWP access to individual's UJ account.

Background

On https://aftertheworkprogramme.wordpress.... (Posted on June 24, 2013) there is a specimen Jobseeker's Direction that suggested the subject is required to give mandated "permission" for DWP to have full access to a UJ account.

"The most important thing that I learned today is that they are now providing Jobseekers Directions. These "directions” are added to the letter with the time and date of your next appointment. If you fail to complete these “directions” then your benefits can be stopped. The only direction that I have to complete is to allow my advisor access to Universal Job Match. "
https://aftertheworkprogramme.wordpress....

I note that the words on the JD are ambiguous concerning implied mandated DWP access to a UJ account, as it merely says:

"Set permission on Universal Jobmatch by ....."

It does not specify the nature of the permission or explicitly state that the permission under discussion related to mandated DWP access.

Yours faithfully,
Frank Zola

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Frank Zola left an annotation ()

Press release: Government announces details of post Work Programme support

Organisation: Department for Work & Pensions
Updated: 3 June 2013
Added to end of paragraph starting 'Every Work Programme' -- 'should the claimant give permission'.
3 June 2013 14:12
First published. 31 May 2013 00:00
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/gover...

Extract:

"Every Work Programme returner will also be required to register with Universal Jobmatch to aid work search and job matching. This will allow their adviser to check their work search activity online should the claimant give permission."

Mary Sanderson left an annotation ()

I believe this may be illegal.

The legal position established by caselaw since the 1950s is that there is no need for claimants to have to corroborate their oral evidence (e.g. job seeking) unless it is either inherently improbable or self-contradictory. Oral evidence is perfectly acceptable in the courts, so should be in a Jobcentre.

Consent has to be freely given to access UJM. If duress is applied with the use of a sanction, then this is unlawful.

Mary Sanderson left an annotation ()

The link above would not open.
http://aftertheworkprogramme.files.wordp...

Jack Silverside left an annotation ()

And Again
http://a4e2aande.files.wordpress.com/201...

http://a4e2aande.wordpress.com/2013/06/2...

Now I can’t prove the providence of this but since the JCP office in question is clearly shown on the letterhead it shouldn't be too hard.
Making the inevitable “issued in error” DWP FOI response a little hard to swallow.

Frank Zola left an annotation ()

Noting the only place use of Jobmatch can be mandated is at a Jobcentre. Sec 88 suggests the only mandated access a Jobcentre Adviser can have of an account is of print outs of jobsearch activity. Of course not all such activity will be recorded on Jobmatch.

88. If it is not possible for the claimant to do any of the above, or the claimant
does not wish to accept cookies and so needs to use a DWP IAD, you
must tell them they have to login to their account from an available IAD in
your office and provide evidence of the jobsearch activity they have carried
out or recorded in their account, e.g. by printing off copies of these
screens/pages.
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/1...

Dear DWP freedom-of-information-requests,

This specimen JD
http://a4e2aande.files.wordpress.com/201... also suggests DWP access/permission to a Universal Jobmatch (UJ) account can be mandated, despite DWP stating such a level of access is voluntary and consent based and cannot be mandated.

To provide evidence of Jobsearch activity, located on UJ, can it only be mandated to give a Jobcentre Adviser (JA) printouts or printed screenshots from UJ and the JA cannot mandate live UJ computer screen based account access at any Jobcentre appointment, which the JA can view? Please confirm the Jobcentre must give access to printing facilities to print out jobsearch activity evidence if mandated and to an Internet Access Device (IAD), an IAD that no JA can mandate to view a UJ account or activity when the IAD is in use?

Yours sincerely,

Frank Zola

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Mary Sanderson left an annotation ()

88. If it is not possible for the claimant to do any of the above, or the claimant does not wish to accept cookies and so needs to use a DWP IAD, you must tell them they have to? login to their account from an available IAD in your office and provide evidence of the job search activity they have carried out or recorded in their account, e.g. By printing off copies of these Screens/pages.

Reviewing jobsearch activity

The legal position established by caselaw since the 1950s is that there is no need for claimants to have to corroborate their oral evidence (e.g. job seeking) unless it is either inherently improbable or self-contradictory. Oral evidence is perfectly acceptable in the courts, so should be in a Jobcentre.

From DWP Decision Makers guide

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/dmgch21.pdf

21592 Evidence of job search includes
1. Evidence in writing from employers, employment agencies or other bodies
That the claimant has contacted or
2. Copies of letters that the claimant has sent to employers or
3. The claimant's uncorroborated written evidence (claimants are advised to
Keep a record of their job search and other efforts to find work) or
4. The claimant's own verbal evidence, recorded by an officer of the Jobcentre Plus office.

Vol 4 Amendment 30 February 2010

21593 Corroboration of claimants evidence is not essential (see DMG Chapter 03). DMs Should note that

1. Claimants will not always be able to obtain corroborative evidence if they state
That they have
1.1 “asked around” or
1.2 applied for jobs that are normally advertised and filled by word of mouth

And

2. Employers do not always reply to written enquiries.

21594 If the DM has reason to doubt whether claimants contacted certain employers or Agencies those employers or agencies may be asked whether they

1. Keep a record of enquiries by job seekers and
2. Are able to confirm that a particular person approached them for employment.

But such enquiries should only be necessary if the evidence before the DM is Inconsistent or seems unlikely.

21595 Proof
21596 Before determining whether the claimant was ASE in any week the DM
1. Must decide what the claimant did in that week to seek work and
2. May also have to decide what they did to seek work in previous weeks (see
DMG 21644 - 21646).

The onus is on the claimant to show what steps have been taken

My comment

As stated in the DMG, your job search does not have to corroborated unless the evidence provided is inconsistent or unlikely.

Job points

Claimants have never been required to keep copies of the Jobpoint print outs.

Consent

If consent is required to look at a Jobseekers UJM account, it must follow consent is also required for you to show Jobcentre staff the data contained within your account.

Other sites

If you are able to prove that you can find more suitable jobs on other job sites, it would be unreasonable for you to use UJM. The majority of the vacancies on UJM come from other sites anyway.

The important para is no 84, which ties in with the Guidance provided above:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/1...

Actively Seeking Employment
82. We cannot specify to a JSA claimant how they provide us with records of their jobsearch activity and Universal Jobmatch will not change this.

83. Personal advisers and assistant advisers will continue to review jobsearch activity and record the outcome on LMS in the usual way for JSA claimants and look at all the evidence provided by claimants to determine if there is an ASE doubt. This may be in various forms and these are explained in the Labour Market Conditions Guide.

84. However, Universal Jobmatch will be a key tool you can use in appropriate cases to review whether a claimant has taken all reasonable steps to have the best prospects of finding work.

85. How you review jobsearch activity will depend on whether the claimant is using Universal Jobmatch and if so, has given DWP access to their
account.

Ray Playforth left an annotation ()

Bit off the specific topic but:

The only statutory provision underpinning Universal Jobmatch is Section 17(3)(c)of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 "creating and maintaining an online profile". Any other condition over and above this has to be imposed by a Jobseekers Direction.
However, Advisers are "encouraging" claimants to
a)create an account in UJM (no legal requirement to do so)
b)create a profile (Section 17(3)(c))
c)upload a public CV (no legal requirement to do so).
If claimants refuse to register and create a profile and public CV they can be mandated to by issuing a Jobseekers Direction which is the correct legal process to follow.

Claimants who have been "encouraged" to voluntarily register with UJM on the terms imposed by their advisers might want to check out The Fraud Act 2006 Section 2 and possibly Section 4 and see if those sections have been engaged.
If registered voluntarily DO NOT upload a public CV and if done so remove it. You can carry out all your jobsearch activities from your profile without inviting any Tom, Dick or Harry (employers?)to contact you which they can do with an uploaded public CV.
The above might not help anyone who has been mandated correctly with a JSD.
I'm not a lawyer or claimant and I could be completely wrong but it's worth checking out.

Mary Sanderson left an annotation ()

The new legislation only refers to creating and maintaining an on-line profile, but not specifically with UJM. It only states MAY be specified.
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2012...

It would be unreasonable to force someone (with the use of Jobseeker Direction) to create a UJM account when there are better and more suitable job boards/other methods available for certain job goals or individual circumstances.

17Work search requirement

(1)In this Part a “work search requirement” is a requirement that a claimant take—

(a)all reasonable action, and

(b)any particular action specified by the Secretary of State,

for the purpose of obtaining paid work (or more paid work or better-paid work).
(2)The Secretary of State may under subsection (1)(b) specify the time to be devoted to any particular action.

(3)Action which may be specified under subsection (1)(b) includes in particular—

(a)carrying out work searches;

(b)making applications;

(c)creating and maintaining an online profile;

(d)registering with an employment agency;

(e)seeking references;

(f)any action prescribed for the purpose in subsection (1).

(4)Regulations may impose limitations on a work search requirement by reference to the work to which it relates; and the Secretary of State may in any particular case specify further such limitations on such a requirement.

(5)A limitation under subsection (4) may in particular be by reference to—

(a)work of a particular nature,

(b)work with a particular level of remuneration,

(c)work in particular locations, or

(d)work available for a certain number of hours per week or at particular times,

and may be indefinite or for a particular period.

Jack Silverside left an annotation ()

The problem is, what clearly is stated in parliamentary legislation is interpreted quite differently down at the Decision Maker/Frontline Staff level.

What’s our main bugbear?

Well it’s the interpretation at a frontline staff level that section 17 of Welfare Reform Act 2012 “creating and maintaining an online profile” applies exclusively only to Universal Jobmatch.

Alternative Job Search sites with similar feature sets and amount of vacancies are routinely dismissed out of hand as not conforming to “all reasonable action” only Universal Jobmatch seems to garner that status from frontline staff and decision makers..

An account held with Universal Jobmatch is deemed “all reasonable action” in online job hunting but 3 accounts with its competitors like fish4.co.uk, indeed.co.uk and jobsite.co.uk are not.

Is anyone seeing the startling contradictions here?

WE really need a test case in the Court of Appeal, but I fear the death of legal aid has put pay to that.

BTW the only unique feature of Universal Jobmatch is Adviser Support, but that feature is null and void when you quite legally keep your account private from the DWP

Mary Sanderson left an annotation ()

The best counter argument you can present to JCP staff is to ask them to provide the legislation requiring you to use UJM and the Decision Makers guidance relating to the reasonable steps required to meet the actively seeking rules.

I can assure you 99% of staff will not have a clue.

Also ask for proof that other sites are less effective tools than UJM.

The Adviser must know this, in order to suggest another reasonable step for you to take to look for work!

Most of the vacancies on UJM come from aggregate sites, so this will be quite difficult for them to prove.

Carl left an annotation ()

I told my adviser I was not signing up for Universal Jobsearch as other sites are actually better,I have put on the bottom of my Jobsearch diary "I maintain an online profile with jobsite.co.uk and monster.co.uk in line with section 17(3c)of the Welfare reform Act 2012" and they seem to have left me alone for now

Mary Sanderson left an annotation ()

Well done Carl.

Carl left an annotation ()

Thanks Mary I love reading your comments on here I am a big fan.....
I was in the job centre again today to sign on and as soon as I sat down the first thing the advisor said was "you need to sign up for universal jobmatch" I said "no that's not true" and handed her a copy of the letter below.

she read the letter and then totally changed the subject and started talking about the weather and how hot it was, the change in her attitude was almost like she thought she was in trouble.

please feel free to copy and paste and I hope you get the same results.

To whom it may concern

With regard to signing up for Universal Jobmatch i wish to make my position clear.

I maintain an online profile with another provider in line with the Welfare Reform Act 2012.
The Welfare Reform Act 2012, chapter2, section 17(3)(c) states:

"creating and maintaining an online profile"

That is the only legislation regarding setting up an online presence and there is no mention of Universal Jobmatch.

I trust this makes my position clear and as I am in full compliance with UK Law I ask you to kindly update your records so I don't have to answer the same question everytime I attend.

Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

2 Attachments

 
Please find attached our response to your Friend of Information request.
 
DWP Freedom of Information Team.
 
 
 
 

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Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Zola,

 

Please find attached DWP response to your recent Freedom of Information
request.

 

 

Yours Sincerely

 

 

DWP Operations

FOI Team

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Frank Zola left an annotation ()

DWP has requested more time to consider this request, will be interested how and if a response is given to:

"Please supply information of any DWP proposals/ideas/discussions to require [mandated] all people claiming JSA or UC, either as a integrated part of a JSA or UC claim or via JD or a CC, to give DWP access to individual's UJ account. "

May be worth others considering how they may wish to request recorded information on the above focused topic.

Mary Sanderson left an annotation ()

Thanks Carl, happy to help.

Well done, Frank.

Ray Playforth left an annotation ()

Frank

This doesn't address Carl's issue which is that UJM and all the associated c**p that goes with it is an unreasonable decision to impose in the first place. His adviser once presented with his arguments has tacitly agreed with him by not pursuing it further. I have a suspicion that Advisers have been issued with guidance/instructions not to mandate claimants who can present good arguments on the unreasonableness of the decision and can provide sufficient evidence that they are fulfilling the jobseeking requirements. The issue with this approach is that Carl has been denied his legal right to challenge the Secretary of State's decision and been denied his legal rights to appeal because his Adviser has prevented him from presenting his case to a Decision Maker to make a determination and depending on the outcome decision his right to appeal to a First Tier Tribunal. This is the correct legal procedure for challenging and appealing decisions. Every claimant encouraged (coerced) to voluntarily register with UJM has also been denied these legal rights. It only takes one Decision Maker acting impartially and on the evidence in front of them to determine unreasonaleness and the whole edifice comes crashing down a scenario that the Secretary of State is desperate to avoid hence the voluntary process of registering and the use of Advisers acting as gatekeepers to prevent claimants excersing their rights. Good grounds for any legal challenge?

Mary Sanderson left an annotation ()

Hi Ray

I hear what you saying and we both risk having our annotations removed. Most Jobseekers I come in contact with are vulnerable and are frightened even to make a complaint. The best way forward in the absence of someone having the courage to make a challenge is to write to the the DWP minister with evidence to prevent malpractice. I have done this with some success in the past. I need more evidence for this particular issue.

Someone may wish to start a blog on the subject.

www.consent.me.uk (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

As a WDTK is an FOI request site, it is important to focus on obtaining recorded information.

Many wider discussions raise questions that can be easily be changed to an FOI request or framed as discussions on such. Otherwise the risk is not loss of annotations that don't belong on WDTK, but conflicting and contradictory opinion that is not substantiated with recorded information or via links to concrete evidence that can be acted upon.

No problem understanding that a letter like:

"To whom it may concern

With regard to signing up for Universal Jobmatch i wish to make my position clear.

I maintain an online profile with another provider in line with the Welfare Reform Act 2012.
The Welfare Reform Act 2012, chapter2, section 17(3)(c) states:

"creating and maintaining an online profile"

That is the only legislation regarding setting up an online presence and there is no mention of Universal Jobmatch.

I trust this makes my position clear and as I am in full compliance with UK Law I ask you to kindly update your records so I don't have to answer the same question everytime I attend. "
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...

may work, the FOI test is to find a way for the DWP to acknowledge [disclose recorded information] whether this approach can be used by anyone threatened with mandatory Jobmatch registration and uploading a Public CV.

With regards this letter being shown to a jobcentre adviser, was a copy retained and transcribed into the computer LMs record? Otherwise the Jobcentre will have retained no record, as if it was never shown, even if the outcome stifled Jobmatch registration with this specific adviser.

Also there is a significant difference between being told "you need to sign up for universal jobmatch" which is framed as a voluntary request, as opposed to being issued a Jobseeker's Direction (JD) to register with Jobmatch and upload a Public CV. That said can see how a template letter could prevent a JD, the issue for WDTK is to obtain recorded information to substantiate such.

In this context, alternative sources of information besides FOI disclosures, are the likes of the publishing of complaints or personal data held by the DWP obtained through the Data Protection Act, Subject Access Requests, using redaction to maintain privacy.

www.consent.me.uk (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

@Ray Playforth

You can submit a DWP FOI request for a copy of the information you mention below:

" I have a suspicion that [DWP] Advisers have been issued with guidance/instructions not to mandate claimants who can present good arguments on the unreasonableness of the decision and can provide sufficient evidence that they are fulfilling the jobseeking requirements."
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...

Mary Sanderson left an annotation ()

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t...

JCP staff are being actively encouraged to promote the benefits of UJM and for Jobseekers to give access to their account. The new Jobseeker Agreement also includes use of UJM too.

Public servants serve the public and must provide honest and impartial advice. Jobseekers need to know the risks of using UJM as well as the other options available, so that they have the best chance of securing employment. I will raise a FOI request.

Someone I know is being plagued by money lenders since uploading her CV to UJM and the number she is using is private and not listed anywhere else.

Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

2 Attachments

 
Dear Mr Zola
 
Please find attached the reply to your recent Freedom of Information
request reference number 2905:
 
 
 
 
Thank you
 
DWP Freedom of Information Team
 
 
 
 

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Dear Operations FOI Requests,

Thanks for the FOI response which clarifies matters at the time of the request.

Yours sincerely,

Frank Zola

andrew left an annotation ()

I have been told by JAs that the DWP plan is to mandate 30 hours spent per week looking for employment - so a full-time occupation. The JA's tell me that they have no idea how this might practically be monitored and enforced, however if it is at the S of State's discretion as to what actions are deemed "necessary" in the pursuit of paid employment, then any failure to provide evidence of this might also be used to warrant stoppages of benefits. Without any great leap of imagination, this would appear to be a short step away from creating a slave underclass. Anyone else have info /thoughts on this?

Mary Sanderson left an annotation ()

Under Public Law, decisions made by public bodies must be rational and reasonable.

It should be quite easy for many Jobseekers to prove how irrational and unreasonable this decision is.

Carl left an annotation ()

Thanks for the update, on the same subject I was given a letter at the jobcentre on Wednesday the heading on the letter was "what we expect from you" it stated "we expect that you spend at least 6 hours a day job searching" I pointed out that this is under the heading "we expect" and that "we expect" has no basis in Law so you can expect what you like but I am not obliged to do it. I just got a cold look and then she changed the subject.

Mary Sanderson left an annotation ()

Hi Carl
Unless the letter forms part of the contract you have with JCP, there is no jurisdiction to enforce its contents.

BarneyT left an annotation ()

Jan 2015 & nothing much has changed re: "UJM usage-Mandatory/compulsory or not?"
Formally notified my JCP that I had opted-out of usage of my UJM account/profile in June 2014; I presented the JCP adviser with half-a-dozen screenshot printoffs each showing me logged into various of the big sites (TotalJobs/Fish4Jobs/JobsToday/Indeed/Reed/etc.) & stated that I`d met the Welfare Reform Act 2012, 17,3,(c) requirement in doing so (most of these registrations pre-dated the launch of the UJM), & cited a lack of vetting of vacancies posted & provided a short list of publicly-available 'horror stories' re: UJM scam/repeat jobs - this was accepted after a short conversation & a verbal description of supplying supporting evidence re: applications/jobsearch activity. I`ve also insisted that all this be recorded on my file on their system (LMS, is it?).
I still browse UJM 'anonymously' (without logging-in) & apply for suitable/appropriate jobs from it, & use a NetBook via JCP`s Public Access WiFi to provide supporting evidence of applications upon request from my email account (N.B. I show the list of confirmations received/emails sent, not their contents as this is my private correspondence under Data Protection Act rules).
Last week an adviser attempted to compel me back into UJM account usage by giving me 11 jobs from UJM & instructing me to apply for them, despite the fact that I meet (& often exceed) the criteria in my Claimant Commitment (which contains no mention at all of the UJM). A separate appt. was made to check this & I did so easily via email/using another site that had them/applying on company website.
Intriguingly, adviser stipulated 'written confirmation of applications' to be presented at the 'check' appt. & stated that these should be screenshots of the relevant pages of my UJM account which I should use for these applications - in direct contradiction of UJM Toolkit Ch.3, Pt.84 "We cannot specify to JSA claimants how they provide us with records of jobsearching activity...". Hmm, setting additional & specific conditionallity for eligibility on a personal whim? The (different) adviser at this 'check' appt. was quite happy with my method(s) of application/providing supporting evidence upon request...
I have requested to be shown in writing WHERE it states that UJM account usage is compulsory after being told this on 4 separate occasions in 7 mths, & apparently I`ve been posted the Decision Makers Guidance on this (not that I requested it) on 27/1/15: passing the buck to keep the shell game going & avoid a straight answer, methinks.
Thank you to all for your sterling efforts to obtain a clear-cut answer to the 'UJM account usage:compulsory/mandatory or not?' question, in particular Frank Zola for the copy of the UJM Toolkit he posted back in the day.
I would also refer you to Data Protection Act:Personal Data:3rd Party Sharing/Storage rules if JCP/DWP try to compel disclosure of correspondence details or UJM account usage.