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Last updated:
19/06/2020

How to change your Universal Credit work-related requirements

When you claim Universal Credit you're given work-related requirements. This determines what, if any work, or preparation for work, you're required to do. We explain how to change your Universal Credit work-related requirements.

What are the work-related activity groups for Universal Credit

There are four Universal Credit work-related activity groups. The group you are in determines what tasks you are required to do as part of your Claimant Commitment:

Work-related requirements What you’re expected to do
No work-related requirements You will not need to work.
Work-focused interview You will be expected to visit your work coach regularly for meetings.
Work preparation You are expected to meet your work coach regularly, take new courses to enhance your employability, write a CV and partake in work experience.
All work-related activity You're expected to find a new job or earn more money than you currently do. This can include finding and applying for jobs and attending interviews.

You can see your work-related requirements, and the tasks you are required to do each week in your online Universal Credit account.

If you don't have an online Universal Credit account, or you can't find the paper version of your Claimant Commitment, you can ask your work coach which work-related requirements you have.

How to check if your work-related requirements are correct for Universal Credit

It's essential to make sure you have the correct work-related requirements for Universal Credit. If you can work, you will more than likely have to do all work-related activity unless you meet any of the following exceptions:

  • Have a long term illness because of a mental or physical health condition.
  • You care for someone with a severe disability.
  • You're responsible for a child.
  • You're pregnant or have given birth in the last 15 weeks.
  • You have reached retirement age.

If more than one applies to you, you should be placed in the work-related activity group, which requires you to do the least.

Jamal and Phillippa's stories

Jamal is a carer for his daughter, Jane, who has schizophrenia. Jane gets the daily living component of PIP, and Jamal cares for her for 40 hours per week.

Jamal’s caring responsibilities mean that he has no work-related requirements.

Philippa has an anxiety disorder. Her illness makes it difficult for her to work at the moment because she often has panic attacks.

She has had a work capability assessment. Her work capability assessment says that she has limited capability for work.

Phillipa has to go to work-focused interviews and meet the work-preparation requirements.

If you're in the correct work-related activity group and you're struggling to meet the requirements, you may be able to change your Claimant Commitment.

Long term mental health or physical illness

If you have a mental health, or physical health illness that impacts on your ability to work or search for work, you need to speak to your work coach immediately.

You will need to fill in a UC50 form and attend a Work Capability Assessment - a test to decide if you can claim Universal Credit with a limited capability for work element.

If you are off with a long-term sickness due to a mental health condition or illness, and you can prove you have limited capability for work, your work-related activity group will depend on how the DWP thinks your condition affects you. They will either decide you have:

  • Limited capability for work and work-related activity (LCWRA) and they will place you in the no work-related requirements group, or,
  • Limited capability for work (LCW) and they will put you in the work preparation group.

If however, the DWP decide you don't have limited capability for work you will be placed in the all work-related activity group.

You will not need an assessment or to fill in the form if you have already been assessed as having LCW or LCWRA for one of the legacy benefits. Find out more about Universal Credit and mental health.

Caring for someone with severe disability

If you are a full-time carer - 35 hours or more a week - for a severely disabled person, you shouldn’t have any work-related requirements , if one of the following applies to you:

  • You claim or are entitled to claim Carer's Allowance.
  • You aren't eligible for Carer's Allowance because your earnings are too high.

The person you care for must also receive one of the following benefits:

  • Either the standard or enhanced rate of the daily living component of PIP.
  • Attendance Allowance.
  • Disability Living Allowance at the middle care component rate or above.
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment.
  • Constant Attendance Allowance paid with a war disablement pension or industrial injuries benefits.

If you don't meet these conditions, you will more than likely have to meet all the work-related activity requirements. However, your work coach should consider your caring responsibilities when setting your required work activity.

Responsible for a child

If you are responsible for a child, your work-related activity group is determined by their age:

Child’s age Work-related requirements
Under one No work-related requirements
One Work-focused interview
Two Work preparation
Three or older All work-related activity

If your child is under 13, your work coach should consider your responsibilities to look after a child when setting your Claimant Commitment. For example, they should ensure your work can fit around school and nursery hours.

If your child needs extra care, such as they have a mental health condition, they should adjust your work-related activity accordingly.

Adopting a child in the last 12 months

If you adopted a child - of any age - within the previous 12 months, you should be in the no work-related activity group for 12 months.

After 12 months, you will be placed in the relevant work-related activity group for the child's age.

Pregnant or given birth within the last 15 weeks

If you are 28 weeks pregnant or more, you should be in the no work-related activity group. If you are less than 28 weeks pregnant, you may still be required to look for work.

If this is providing problematic and potentially harmful to you or your babies health, you should speak to your work coach and give medical evidence such as a doctors letter to prove this.

The DWP can then class you as either:

  • Limited capability for work and work-related activity (LCWRA) and they will place you in the no work-related requirements group, or,
  • Limited capability for work (LCW) and they will place you in the work preparation group.

If you have given birth in the last 15 weeks, you should be placed in the no work-related activity group.

Working or Self-employed

If you're self-employed you will be in the non-work-related activity group if either:

  • The minimum income floor applies to you.
  • You earn more than your minimum income floor.

Find out more about being self-employed and claiming Universal Credit.

If you are not self-employed and you earn more than your earnings threshold - the weekly hours you're expected to work multiplied by your minimum wage - you will be in the no work-related activity group.

Your expected weekly hours are determined by the work-related activity group you would be in if you weren't working:

Work-related activity requirement Expected weekly hours of work
Work-focused interview group 16
Work preparation group 16
All work-related activity group 35

How to change your work-related activity requirements for Universal Credit

If you believe you are in the wrong Universal Credit work-related activity group, you need to speak to your work coach immediately and explain which exceptions you think apply to you.

If your Universal Credit work coach won't change your work-related activity requirements and you believe the decision is unfair, you should make a complaint to the DWP.

If you receive a Universal Credit sanction despite explaining your situation to your work coach, you can challenge the decision with a mandatory reconsideration.

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