Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) sanctions
If you are claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) and do
not follow the terms of your Jobseeker's Agreement you
may have your benefit reduced or stopped for a set period of time,
this is known as a sanction.
Job seekers in Warrington, Wigan and Oldham who have claimed JSA
since 29 April 2013 may have signed up to a
different type of Jobseeker's Agreement because they
are part of the Universal Credit pathfinder. This information
does not apply.
You can read through this information sheet, or go directly to
the sections you want to read by clicking on these links:
What are JSA sanctions?
If you are claiming JSA, you may have a sanction, which is a
reduction in your benefit, applied in a number of different
circumstances. You might be sanctioned if you:
- left your job voluntarily or lost your job due to
- fail to apply for or accept a job that is offered
- fail to show that you are available for, and actively seeking
- fail to attend a compulsory training or employment scheme
- fail to carry out a direction from a Jobcentre Plus
How much will a sanction be?
The amount of the sanction will depend on whether you are single
or in a couple making a joint claim:
- If you are single the amount of a sanction will be all of
your JSA personal allowance.
- If you are a couple and you are both receiving a sanction,
the sanction will be all of your JSA couple's personal
- If you are a couple but only one of you is being sanctioned,
the sanction will reduce your JSA couple's personal allowance
to the single person's allowance (so the member of the couple
who is not being sanctioned still receives some JSA).
How long will a sanction last?
There are three levels of sanctions which last for set periods
of time depending on what you may have failed to do.
The lower level of sanction applies if
you are asked to do something that will improve your
chances of finding or preparing for work and you don't do
it. This includes things like:
- losing a place on a training scheme through misconduct
- failing to attend or giving up a place on a training
- failing to attend an interview at Jobcentre Plus
- failing to carry out part of your jobseeker's agreement.
A lower level sanction will last for:
- four weeks for the first failure
- 13 weeks for any further failures within 52 weeks of
the last failure.
The intermediate level of sanction may apply if you reclaim JSA
after your previous JSA award has been disallowed.
A JSA award can be disallowed if you (or your joint-claim
partner) are found not to be available for, or
actively seeking work.
If you go on to make another claim for JSA, it will only be
allowed if you can show that you (or your joint-claim partner) are
now available for and actively seeking work.
An intermediate level sanction will last for:
- four weeks for a first failure
- 13 weeks for any further failures within 52 weeks of the last
Example from decision maker's guidance:
“Johnny was entitled to JSA but his award came to an end when
the DM (decision maker) decided that he was not available for
employment and could not be treated as available. This was Johnny’s
first ever claim for JSA... The DM decides that a four week
reduction will need to be considered with any new award of
The higher level sanction may apply if, for example,
- leave a job voluntarily
- leave a job through misconduct
- fail to take up a job or mandatory work activity
A higer level sanction will last for:
- 13 weeks for a first failure
- 26 weeks for a second failure
- 156 weeks for any further failure within 52 weeks of the last
Diagram is taken from page 47 of the Department for Work and
Pensions guidance for decision makers DMG memo 37/12.
‘Good reason’ why a sanction should not be applied
A sanction will not be applied if you can show that you had
‘good reason’ for the action that led to a sanction being
'Good reason' is not defined in legislation, it will depend
on your circumstances.
The following are examples of factors which should be taken
- If you are a victim of domestic violence you can be
treated as available for and actively seeking work for up to 13
weeks. Even after that a fear of domestic violence may mean you
have good reason for refusing or leaving employment
- If you have a mental health condition or disorder, or if you
- If you are a victim of bullying or harassment at work, or
you left your job because you were a whistle blower.
People with disabilities and carers
f you have a disability or are a carer, you will have good
reason for giving up a job or not accepting a job offer if the
travelling time would be unreasonable given your caring
responsibilities or your health.
In the first 13 weeks of your claim you would have good reason
for not accepting a job offer if the travelling time to work is
more than one hour each way.
After 13 weeks you would only have good reason if the travelling
time was more than one and a half hours each way.
Sanctions and 'work for your benefit' schemes
On 12 February 2013 the Court of Appeal decided that JSA rules,
introduced in 2011, setting up a number of work placement schemes,
with sanctions applied if claimants did not comply, had not been
properly made. The Jobseeker's Allowance (Employment, Skills and
Enterprise Scheme) Regulations 2011 were
found to be unlawful and quashed (link opens in a new
The Government immediately issued replacement
regulations (link opens in a new window) enabling the
schemes to continue, and
has said that it intends to appeal against the decision (PDF
7.4 KB, link opens in a new window).
If the Government does not appeal, or its appeal
is unsuccessful, anyone who has had their JSA reduced or
sanctioned for non-compliance in one of these schemes may be
entitled to a refund of benefit.
The schemes affected by the decision are 'work for your benefit'
schemes, and are known by a number of different official names,
- The Jobcentre Plus offer
- The Work Programme
- The New Enterprise Allowance scheme
- Full time training flexibilities
- Skills conditionality
- The Support for the Long Term Unemployed Trailblazer
- Mandatory youth activity programme
- Get Britain Working measures
- The sector-based work academy (“sbwa”)
- The Community Action Programme (“CAP”), a programme for the
very long-term unemployed and a part of the Trailblazer
If your JSA was sanctioned for another reason not related to one
of these schemes, such as not applying for a recommended job
vacancy, you are not affected by this decision.
Last updated: 16 May 2013