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Working hours: benefits rules - Calculating work hours: Fluctuating hours of work

If you are doing paid work for an employer or are self-employed but on a low income, you may still qualify for certain welfare benefits. Benefit entitlement can depend on how many hours of paid work you do per week.

Calculating work hours: Fluctuating hours of work

Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance

If your hours of work fluctuate, then your hours are averaged over the ‘cycle of work’. For example, if you always work three weeks on and one week off, then an average of hours over a four-week period would be used.

If there is no pattern to your work then your average working hours over the five weeks immediately before you make the benefit claim will be used (or a period that would give a fair average if the previous five weeks were out of the norm).

If there is no pattern of work established yet, for example if you have only just started a new job, then the average number of hours you are expected to work each week is used.

Working Tax Credit

Like with Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance, if a recognised ‘pattern’ of work can be shown over a period, then it is possible to average hours of work over that period, otherwise hours can be averaged over a full year.

If there is no pattern of work established yet, for example if you have only just started a new business, then the average number of hours you are expecting to work is used.

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