Work-Related Requirements for People with Children

You may have heard or noticed that the Government’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are putting more and more demands on people who are responsible for children in terms of what they must do to prepare for work.

Most people are now expected to take some form of action to prepare themselves for work, even if they don’t have to look for work.

How much they are required to do depends on their circumstances (e.g. the age of their child) and whether they claim Income Support or Universal Credit. Some people (such as single parents with a child under one) don’t have to do anything, while other parents are expected to take all reasonable action to obtain full-time work.

Income support

 Income Support is for lone parents who have a child under the age of 5. Although they are not required to look for work, lone parents who claim Income Support must attend work-focused interviews at the Jobcentre if their child is 1 or 2 years old.  These interviews are to discuss their plans for returning to the labour market, and to assess and enhance their job prospects. The number of interviews is at discretion of the work coach.

Once their child is between 3 or 4, they could also be required to prepare for work and undertake mandatory work-related activity such as doing training or work experience, or preparing a CV.

Universal credit

 Things are bit different if you claim Universal Credit as the Government has placed work conditionality at the core of this new benefit. Means-tested benefits such as Income Support will gradually be phased out and replaced by Universal Credit, but there is no set timetable for this yet.

Under Universal Credit, the rules will be broadly similar to the ones we’ve just outlined for Income Support but there will be some important differences:

(1) Lone parents and ‘lead carers’ in a couple (i.e. the one who looks after the children the most) are subject to work preparation requirements as well as work focused interviews if their child is aged 2. Under Income Support, lone parents only have to attend work-focused interviews, not prepare for work.

(2) The other difference is that once their child turns 3, lone parents and lead carers have to start looking for work.

The table below summarises the work-related requirements according to the age of your child, for both benefits: 

Universal Credit
Pregnant / Just gave birth / Baby under 1 None None
Responsible carer for a child Aged 1 Work focused interviews Work focused interviews
Responsible carer for a child Aged 2 Work focused interviews Work focused interviews & work preparation.
Responsible carer for a child Aged 3+ Work focused interview & work related activity All work related requirements including work search

Employability support

At CHAI, we provide a supportive, and friendly employability service for people whose aim, long or short term, is to improve their work prospects. We do this in a way that suits you, by delivering our service at a number of convenient community locations.

Contact us for more information on 0131 442 2100.