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Working hours: benefits rules - Calculating work hours: Term Time Workers

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: Term Time Workers

If you have a recognisable cycle of work of one year, which includes periods when you do not work - whether they be school holidays or something similar - then you could count as a ‘term-time worker’.

Income Support or Working Tax Credit

The periods of school holidays (or periods when no work is done) are ignored when assessing hours of work so the number of hours you work during term time applies to you throughout the whole year.

For example, Maria is a single parent who works 20 hours per week during term time, i.e. for 38 weeks of the year, and does not work or get paid for the other 14 weeks of the year. The weeks she does not work are ignored so her average hours for the whole year are 20 per week.

Maria is not eligible for Income Support as she is classed as being in full-time work, even though she does not work during the school holidays. However, she is eligible for Working Tax Credit as she is classed as working over 16 hours per week, even during the school holidays when she is not actually working.

Jobseeker's Allowance

For Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), the periods of school holidays (or periods when no work is done) are included when assessing your hours of work.

For example, Maria’s hours of work are averaged over the whole 52 week period as school holidays are included.

Her total hours of work for the year (38 weeks x 20 hours = 760 hours per year) are divided by 52 and she is classed as working for 14.61 hours per week for the whole year.

Maria could therefore claim Jobseeker's Allowance for the whole year as she is not classed as being in full time work. She would still need to show she is available for, and looking for, at least 16 hours' work per week to meet the Jobseeker's Allowance conditions though.

Which benefit should a term time worker claim?

In the example used, it is possible that Maria could claim both Jobseeker's Allowance and Working Tax Credit for the whole year but in practice her income may put her over the limit to receive both benefits together, especially during term-time when she has earnings from work.

These rules are complicated, so if you are a term-time worker we recommend that you seek advice from a benefits adviser. You can use our Find an Adviser tool to locate one who can advise you further on your particular circumstances.

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