Work-related activity

Failure to comply with requirements in relation to undertaking work-related activity or work preparation can lead to sanctions. Claimants may be able to show 'good cause' or 'good reason' for deemed failures to avoid loss of entitlement.


Requirements for undertaking work-related activity / work preparation are set out in the Employment and Support Allowance (Work-Related Activity) Regulations 2011, the Welfare Reform Act 2007 and the Welfare Reform Act 2012 (and the equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland).

For income-related and old-style contributory ESA, regulation 3(1) and (4) of the 2011 Regulations provide -

(1) The Secretary of State may require a person… to undertake work-related activity as a condition of continuing to be entitled to the full amount of employment and support allowance payable to that person…

(4) A requirement imposed under paragraph (1) - (a) must be reasonable in the view of the Secretary of State, having regard to the person’s circumstances; and (b) may not require the person to– (i) apply for a job or undertake work, whether as an employee or otherwise; or (ii) undergo medical treatment.

And regulation 8 provides -

(1) A person who is required to undertake work-related activity but fails to do so must show good cause for the failure within 5 working days of the date on which the Secretary of State gives notice of the failure.

(2) The Secretary of State must determine whether a person who is required to undertake work-related activity has failed to do so and, if so, whether the person has shown good cause for the failure.

For universal credit, section 21(2) of the 2012 Act, and for new-style contributory ESA, section 11F(2) of the 2007 Act, provide –

The Secretary of State may, subject to this Part, impose a work preparation requirement… on a person [who has limited capability for work / entitled to employment and support allowance]...

For universal credit, section 27 of the 2012 Act, and for new-style contributory ESA, section 11J of the 2007 Act, provide - 

(1) The amount of an award of [universal credit / an employment and support allowance] is to be reduced in accordance with this section in the event of a failure by a person which is sanctionable under this section.

(2) It is a failure sanctionable under this section if a person - (a) fails for no good reason to comply with a work-related requirement...


Case law

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