JSA sanctions

Can you claim Jobseeker’s if you get sacked? It depends on the situation, but if you left your job ‘without a good reason,’ your work coach at the JobCentre may stop your benefits from being paid. If you don’t follow your Jobseeker Agreement, you risk being sanctioned. Here’s how to avoid having your JSA stopped.

Monopoly money, one pound

Don't break the rules

What are sanctions?

When you sign up for JSA you agree to follow a certain set of rules in return for receiving your benefit. If you break any of these rules, your benefit can be stopped for a period of time. This is called a sanction.

Even if your benefit has been stopped, keep turning up to the Jobcentre for meetings and keep applying for jobs (and keeping a diary of what you’re applying for), or you risk being sanctioned for longer.

Why am I being sanctioned?

The most common reason you might have a sanction applied by the Jobcentre is being late or not turning up for meetings. You might also get a JSA sanction for leaving your job voluntarily, or if you:

  • Don’t apply for enough jobs
  • Refuse to apply for a suitable job
  • Aren’t available for work or actively seeking work
  • Fail to attend a compulsory training course or employment scheme
  • Get sacked for misconduct

You should be informed that you’re being sanctioned – so if your money hasn’t turned up and you don’t know why, call your local Jobcentre immediately. Sanctions may also affect your Universal Credit payments for a set period.

Can I talk my way out of being sanctioned?

In a word, no. However charming you are, your advisor is still bound by law to sanction you if they think you’ve not kept your side of the job-seeking bargain.

But I had a good reason for being late…

If you have a good reason, you should not be sanctioned. For example, if you tried to get the bus to the Jobcentre and it didn’t show, then you shouldn’t be sanctioned for being late to an appointment. This is called ‘mandatory reconsideration,’ and you should tell the Jobcentre as soon as possible if this happens. It’s worth having your Jobcentre’s number stored on your phone for this very reason.

It is important that you give your reasons for not being able to meet a particular claimant commitment as soon as possible (within 5 days) of it happening.

You should challenge the decision if you had a good reason for not meeting a commitment and you still get sanctioned. Find out more about benefit appeals here.

How long will I be sanctioned for?

That depends on what you’ve done (or not done) and whether it’s happened before.

For most offences, such as not turning up for an interview at the Jobcentre, not applying for enough jobs, or not taking a job that you’re offered, you will be sanctioned for four weeks. This is called a lower level sanction, and if the same thing happens again within a year, you’ll get sanctioned for 13 weeks for each further offence.

The intermediate level of sanction may apply if you reclaim JSA after your previous JSA award has been disallowed, which can happen if you (or your joint-claim partner) are found not to be available for, or actively seeking work. This also carries a four week sanction for a first offence and 13 weeks for subsequent offences.

Can you claim Jobseeker’s if you get sacked?

If you leave a job voluntarily, get sacked for misconduct or refuse to take part in a compulsory training course, you’ll get sanctioned for 13 weeks for a first offence. This is a higher level sanction, and a second offence penalises you for a further 26 weeks.

See this page for further information on the length of sanctions.

How can I survive while I’m being sanctioned?

If you or your family don’t have enough money for essentials, such as food, heating or medical supplies without your JSA, you should be able to get a hardship payment. This is a reduced level of JSA to cover the basics while you’re waiting for your JSA to start up again. Speak to your advisor at the Jobcentre for more information.

Where can I go for help with being sanctioned?

Being sanctioned is a frustrating process, but there are places you can go for help. Citizen’s Advice volunteers know all about the benefits system and can help you understand your rights. You can visit your local bureau to get face-to-face advice and support. You must remember to bring along details of your benefits and general financial situation.

If you’re angry or frustrated about your treatment by the Jobcentre, you can complain. Find out about the complaints process.

Unfortunately we are unable to offer benefits advice at The Mix, but we can give emotional support and guide you to the best places for expert advice if you give us a call on 0808 808 4994.

And finally, don’t forget to tell your benefits advisor if your circumstances change – for example, if you get a pay rise, new job or get married. If you don’t you could face a £50 fine, as well as having to pay back any extra benefit. See GOV.UK for more information.

For more information on benefits:

Next Steps

  • Use the Turn2Us calculator to work out what benefits and grants you're entitled to, or call their helpline on 0808 802 2000
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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JSA

By Holly Turner

Updated on 11-Sep-2021