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Self employment and benefits - How do I calculate my hours of work?

If you or your partner are working, or thinking of starting work, as a self employed person you might qualify for welfare benefits to top up your income.

The benefits you are entitled to will depend on a number of things, including your age, the number of hours you work and how much you earn.

How do I calculate my hours of work?

When you are working out your hours, you should count the time you spend actually doing work and any essential activities connected to that work. This could include the time spent book-keeping, visiting potential clients, preparing advertising or buying stock and equipment. If your hours vary from week to week, you should use an average. It can help to keep a note of your hours as part of your regular book-keeping.

If the number of hours you work varies, there are special rules. If your hours of work vary in a regular way, your hours are averaged over the ‘cycle of work’. For example, if you work three weeks on and one week off, your cycle of work would be four weeks and an average of hours over a four-week period would be used. 

If you have no recognisable ‘cycle of work’, then the average of hours over the five weeks prior to your claim for benefit is usually used. There are special rules if you only work during term time or if you do seasonal work.

For more information see our information about Working hours: Benefit rules

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