Universal jobmatch and providing proof of job searching activities

T.kay made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

I ask for official clarification of the law that states that it is mandatory for a job seekers allowance claimant to provide job centre plus advisers with access to their universal job match account and be required to provide print outs of job searching activities to their job centre plus adviser.
When a claimant attends the job centre they have to show the adviser what they have been doing to actively seek work in the time prior to when they last attended.
This is normally done by filling in an ES4JP form.
They then have to show this completed ES4JP form to the adviser who then submits it onto a DWP computer system as evidence in order for the JSA payment to be authorized to the claimant.
There has been an issue arising within job centre plus offices that is causing confusion for both claimants and staff.
This is based around the claimant being able to provide proof that what has been written on the ES4JP form has been done or not.
Some job centre plus advisers ask for access to a claimants universal job match account were as other advisers request that a claimant prints out proof of job search activities and then is asked to show these print outs to the adviser when they next attend the job centre plus office.
I ask if there is a mandatory requirement for a job seekers allowance claimant to have to do either of these two activities.

Yours faithfully

T.Kay

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Jonny left an annotation ()

There reply says it all really I was in JC today I showed the advisor pictures I'd taken of my UJ and she said that's not good enough there's certain aspect she needs to see YAWN. And requested I do screen prints well she won't be getting them also she's trying to mandate me there daily well she's in for a shock cos it aint happening last time I was there I asked what law said she could make me attend daily and she waffled on and said its a condtion of benefit I said that's a condition not a law

Stuart O left an annotation ()

Very useful, where the section from the Labour Market Conditions Guide offers the guidance form of what Mary Sanderson has said elsewhere many times in her posts re: 1950 case law.

Note that the following, new, hyphen-appended amendment is a non-sequitur: the add on is there to lead, and not a logical follow on. Each statement was and is true of it's own - there is no dependence:

"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 – it is not therefore possible to require
JSA claimants to give DWP access to their Universal Jobmatch account."

The mechanism is to now get the jobseeker to provide IAD, print-out, Smartphone evidence is through the addition of point 90 to the latest Toolkit GUidance - "insufficient":

"90. Therefore if a claimant does not wish to do this, you will need to base your
assessment on the evidence they have provided. If this is insufficient and
you are not completely satisfied they have met the requirements to actively
seek work, raise a labour market doubt in the usual way."

This new step is needed where the language for points 87 + 88 have had to be re-written: "may ask" -> "may suggest that they show you"; and "must tell they have to" -> "advise".

This shift is noteworthy because it indicates no access was allowed, and so now a claim has to be made by the advisor - despite "un-corroborated written evidence, for example an ES4" being entirely permissible - that what is shown is "insufficient".

Being that "un-corroborated written evidence" is an allowable form, why is UJ isolated as a special case for corroboration? (or at least this is the context it is given) To record in the diary that UJ was searched, with a note of jobs applied for *should* within the rules be sufficient to comply with the Jsag. And if an advisor only "may suggest that you show you" or "advise" then access *isn't* allowed.

See in conjunction this FoI repsonse:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/u...

It's a curious move to downgrade to less assured language on point 87 + 88, where the interpretation for a breach for the Data Protection Act is as confident as it is, no?

"...it is not necessary to obtain a
person's consent in order to process their personal data if the processing is necessary for the
purpose of a Government Department's functions. DWP considers that processing JSA
claimants' information for the purpose of checking that they have complied with their obligation
to look for work is necessary for the purpose of DWP's functions under the Jobseekers Act
1995."

Jason Davies left an annotation ()

Stuart O, this may all become redundant in October when apparently the DWP will change the system to always give them access to a UJ account. It'll be interesting to see how they're going to do it though - change in legislation has been suggested.

Stuart O left an annotation ()

Jason Davies - where has this been declared? Thanks.

Jason Davies left an annotation ()

I think it's just rumour at the moment, see here: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/u...

I'm sure I've seen it mentioned in a FOI response but I can't find it now! It seems plausible because October is when the Claimant Commitment starts being used in earnest and that, as far as I am aware, requires registration with UJM as a condition of receiving JSA.

Frank Zola left an annotation ()

Related info:

Sample claimant commitments:
http://consentarchive.wordpress.com/2013...

"(4)A claimant commitment is to include—

(b)any prescribed information, and

(c)any other information the Secretary of State considers it appropriate to include."
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2012...

"ensuring all new JSA and UC claimants are automatically signed on to Universal Jobmatch"
http://www.dwp.gov.uk/newsroom/press-rel...

Frank Zola left an annotation ()

Cannot find any verifiable disclosure, in the form of an FOI response on WDTK, directly from the DWP on the October speculation via:
https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=jobmat...
or
https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=jobmat...
Related request:
Access to Universal Jobmatch (UJ) for everyone on JSA from October
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

Mary Sanderson left an annotation ()

The Example CU's simply states:

I will:

• provide evidence that I’ve done my regular work search activities when required

It does not specify in what format.

I cannot determine how the current law, which does not specify how a Jobseeker must supply their job search evidence could change so dramatically and bearing in mind the case law that is currently in place.

My clients have informed me that, JCP staff have told them they will be able to access their accounts shortly and October was mentioned.

However, I am struggling with how JCP can monitor people's behaviour on-line without their consent, which would not be allowed under EU law.

Further, having carried out a search on UJM, most of the employers ask you to ring, email or to apply via their own website, so no record of the application is held on UJM.

Most of my clients find jobs on more user friendly sites; many are aggregated to UJM but they apply via Indeed, Total Jobs, Reed etc.

So I fail to see how access to a UJM account would provide sufficient evidence of a claimant's job search activity.

Finally, the work search requirement of the new legislation does not specify that everyone has to set up an on-line profile and nor does it specify it must be with UJM.
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2012...

Jason Davies left an annotation ()

At this stage Mary I'd be tempted to assume that your clients are misinterpreting what's being said to them. Either that or the FLAs are, not for the first time ever, providing misinformation. I personally have experienced so much brazen nonsense from FLAs over the years that the latter seems most plausible.

Frank Zola left an annotation ()

Hi Mary,

Can you cite the specific case law you refer to?

The DWP has signaled an intent to relate making a JSA or UC online claim with the "automatic" setting up of a UJ account:

"ensuring all new JSA and UC claimants are automatically signed on to Universal Jobmatch"
http://www.dwp.gov.uk/newsroom/press-rel...

Prescribed and other information?

DWP viewing access without permission is the matter being speculated upon, but under UC could come under:

"(4)A claimant commitment is to include—

(b)any prescribed information, and

(c)any other information the Secretary of State considers it appropriate to include."
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2012...
(Though use of term "information" does not have the same meaning as "personal data" under the Data Protection Act
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998...

So far the DWP has disclosed little about viewing access without permission, except for the retraction it made with regards:

"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." It later tagged on:

"...should the claimant give permission."

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/gover...

If the DWP holds opinion that access may ultimately not require permission/consent, most probably such will be in the form of legal opinion and exempt from FOI disclosure.

The associated requests and disclosures made thus far focus on JSA and not Universal Credit.

Lets not forget the DWP is the Data Controller (DC) of all UJ personal data, normally such means no further consent is required to view/process it. The exact reasons the DWP ask for permission is a curious hybrid approach by a DC. Maybe the DWP seek "permission" from the user even though as the DC it may not even need "consent".

Data Controller
https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=data+c...

Permission v Consent?
http://consentarchive.files.wordpress.co...

Seeking "permission" may be to avoid engaging Article 8, as it "provides a right to respect for one's "private and family life, his home and his correspondence"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_8_...

Of course as an FOI site need to secure confirmation of any speculation via DWP disclosure or more general publication.

Johnny Russell left an annotation ()

'this may all become redundant in October when apparently the DWP will change the system to always give them access to a UJ account. It'll be interesting to see how they're going to do it though - change in legislation has been suggested.'

@Jason Davies- It'll also be interesting to see how any such changes affect people not claiming Universal Credit. Any changes made would surely affect privacy laws governing everybody and if they try and create privacy laws specifically against benefit claimants they could be open to discrimination challenges.

Mary Sanderson left an annotation ()

Hi Frank

I am not working for CAB at present, the best reference I can find easily on the net is:

http://www.inbrief.co.uk/court-proceedin...

English common law has never had any general requirement that:

• Evidence be corroborated, or
• That the tribunal of fact be warned of the danger of acting on uncorroborated evidence.

The general rule, in both civil and criminal cases, is that any judgment or conviction may be based on the uncorroborated evidence of a single witness, or on uncorroborated evidence of any other kind.

The DWP Decision Makers guide reflects the fact the jobsearch evidence does usually need to be corroborated.

Many appeals are won, due to the fact the DWP has failed to gather oral evidence or applied the legislation unlawfully.

DWP needs a client’s consent to store a claimant’s telephone and email address. It may then follow that a client has consented to storing their information on UJM and it can, therefore be accessed.

It is a minefield!

Most of my successes are based on common sense and the test of reasonableness. The law does not require everyone to set up an on-line profile and for those who choose to do so they can set up one on another aggregate site.

DWP would have to prove to my clients that UJM supports them fully in their Job search and more so than other sites. My clients keep records of what they do and it is clear UJM is not helping them. However, UJM may be beneficial to some people.

If, in the event my clients find a vacancy on UJM which is not advertised elsewhere and requires use of the APPLY facility, they could simply set up an account and delete it.

In any event, it is going be impossible for JCP to track a client’s job search entirely based on their activity using UJM.

Jason Davies left an annotation ()

Mary said:

"DWP needs a client’s consent to store a claimant’s telephone and email address. It may then follow that a client has consented to storing their information on UJM and it can, therefore be accessed."

The other way of looking at it is that as I do not wish to consent to share my email address, CV and phone number (which will be on the CV) with the DWP, if they insist on gaining access - or mandatorily gain access - to my UJ account, I will be left with no option but to terminate my account to protect my personal information thus providing me with an-air tight reason not to use UJM. Even better if I haven't yet set up a UJ account when they enforce access.

In that light I sort of hope these rumours are true!

Jason Davies left an annotation ()

Johnny Russell said:

"It'll also be interesting to see how any such changes affect people not claiming Universal Credit. Any changes made would surely affect privacy laws governing everybody and if they try and create privacy laws specifically against benefit claimants they could be open to discrimination challenges."

I think for that very reason, and until we know exactly what they have planned, we have to assume that it somehow doesn't affect the privacy of any individual or trample on their rights under the DPA. This is why I'm intrigued to see how they intend to pull it off.

Frank Zola left an annotation ()

The "exceptional" DWP mindset to be considered:

"Universal Jobmatch will help claimants find work and keep a record of their activities within the service making it a key enabler to help ensure benefit is
only paid to claimants who are entitled to receive it.

People need to recognise that it is therefore at the heart of the new Conditionality and Sanctions regime and ultimately Universal Credit.

[Seems curious to use the word "People"?]

...

In exceptional cases you may deem it unreasonable for a claimant to use Universal Jobmatch and record the reason why in the ‘Additional Notes’ field within the ‘More’ hotspot in LMS. "
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/1...

Mary Sanderson left an annotation ()

The promotion of UJM is policy and not law.

DWP has spent nearly £17m on the site and pay Monster.com a further £5m per year to maintain it. They also, no doubt want to reduce the staffing head count, so it is not surprising they want everyone to use it and Advisers to promote it.

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

As a result, we EXPECT most JSA claimants will register to use the service willingly. However, in certain circumstances, you may need to issue a Jobseeker’s Direction to claimants who do not willingly create an account.

Issuing a Jobseekers Direction
• Claimants who refuse to create a profile and CV can be issued with a Jobseeker’s Direction as AS LONG AS IT IS REASONABLE IN TERMS of IMPROVING THEIR CHANCES OF FINDING WORK.

Advisers need to prove it is reasonable and Jobseekers can challenge the Adviser by proving that is unreasonable.

Why do so few employers use UJM? Most of the vacancies are aggregated or are agencies etc. Employers do not want people who are forced to apply for vacancies that they do not want or are entirely unsuitable for. Businesses already receive enough spam email from Jobseekers without receiving applications from pressed men and women.

http://blog.zois.co.uk/2013/08/last-week...

In the past there was little choice, but there are hundreds of Job boards now.

Stuart O left an annotation ()

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

"...setting up a UJ account is not a mandatory part of UC. However the claimant commitment is mandatory and this may include action for the claimant to undertake with respect to using Universal Jobmatch to find
work."

Non-registration to UJ on a Universal Credit claim will have everything to do with a jobseeker's ability to reason *use* - and not sign-up - of UJ at the stage of agreeing the claimant commitment and the receptiveness of that advisor.

Nor is it the default under the Toolkit Guidance that those jobseekers failing the exemptions *must* register with UJ, they *can* be mandated under JD and where this reasonably improves their employment prospects (arguably achieved through other websites)

The point of mentioning all this is that even to talk of UJ registration as a conditionality of UC is an inaccurate representation of the rules and information disclosed by the DWP.

In practical terms, successfully being awarded a UC claim - where not exempt and reasoning *use* only - will for a great many be the biggest hurdle.

Everything else is just speculation at the moment.

Mary Sanderson left an annotation ()

Yes, DWP are misrepresenting the facts and only promote the benefits! I am waiting for a reply to a FOI about this matter.

Jason has a good point re emails and telephone numbers too.

It can feel like a game of snakes and ladders, with there being more snakes than ladders for claimants. I enjoy the challenge, but I appreciate Jobseekers are in a very weak position. It is not the same as entering into a contract with a mobile provider, if you do not like the terms you take your business elsewhere. In the Jobcentre you risk losing your livelihood.

Jason Davies left an annotation ()

I would speculate that the JCP advisers have been told that come October the Claimant Commitment will start being used for all new jobseekers and that registration with UJM will be a compulsory part of that. It's wrong but I bet that's where this stems from.

Stuart O left an annotation ()

@Jason Davies

Seems feasible, and in the same vein as advisors having told jobseekers UJ was to become mandatory pre the March introduction of JDs - wrong.

It needs to be understood also that the intent of the DWP (seen in FoI responses, tough-talking press releases) does not have a perfect translation with FLA when it comes to the relation of the actual rules.

As an example, while some have received JDs for challenging on UJ, others have not - the same could well be a possibility come agreeing Claimant Commitments, which is why getting out the facts of the guidance is more important than the panic. I totally accept Mary's point too though, about the weak bargaining position of jobseekers.

But best wait to see what is said...

Ian Lawson left an annotation ()

As to providing proof of jobsearching,I am claiming JSA, not having given access consent on my UJ account to the Jobcentre. The account has a public CV on it, and I have provided a photocopy of this. All I am obliged to do. When I signed-on I provided extensive hard-copy evidence of all job applications, including e-mail application confirmations, postal receipts for letters,business cards etc. Written on an official jobsearch form. My adviser then asked for screen print-outs from my account ? Obviously this will show nothing, as I have been searching and applying elsewhere. When I hesitated to comply, this went to an Actively Seeking Work doubt procedure, as yet unresolved. Surely if the claimant has denied access,is not using UJ for jobsearch, but is providing extensive evidence of jobsearch, the Jobcentre cannot force these UJ account print-outs anyway ?

Brian green left an annotation ()

No one needs to provide printouts for jobmatch advisors
dWP rules state that an advisor does not have a mandate to threaten
Or demand printouts from jobmatch i have experienced this problem
And sent dwp rules to manager they backed down and apologised
But thats not were it ends my over zelous adviser prints out jobs from jobmatch and wants me to apply for them on my private account
This is infiltration of my account i have contacted various authoritys
Concerning his behaviour he also wants to tilt his computer my way
And wants me to pick jobs with him on his account the nerve of this
Scoundral all in order to obtain a sanction i am refuseing to look
At his account i believe he can do nothing about it beware folks
These thieves will try anything to get their way.

keiron rackham left an annotation ()

I have been sanctioned for not supplying screenshots/printouts, i forgot to put dates on my written evidence ridiclous.

keiron rackham

Susan Howarth left an annotation ()

Keiron, I hope that you can appeal the sanction. I have been through similar and eventually successfully argued that it would not be feasible to provide printouts, ongoingly, and that providing a written record was reasonable (including job references).

This was accepted in the end, but not without taking lots of evidence of DWP policy and explaining my reasons over and over - at one point in discussion with a manager for three quarters of an hour.

keiron rackham left an annotation ()

I hope so, but they just don't listen im afraid.

matthew left an annotation ()

What i would like to know is whether i have to prove my job search or reassure them i am sticking to my claimant commitment.