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  • FIRST POST
    • RUOKAnnie
    • By RUOKAnnie 15th Jun 17, 9:17 AM
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    RUOKAnnie
    Work coach not adhering to single parent flexibilities re. claiming JSA
    • #1
    • 15th Jun 17, 9:17 AM
    Work coach not adhering to single parent flexibilities re. claiming JSA 15th Jun 17 at 9:17 AM
    I'm a single parent who has been claiming JSA now for almost 4 weeks. Every day my daughter is at school, i am online looking for job to apply to. So around 6 hours a day. I have applied for loads, some related to my qualifications and some in customer service/retail (i've made sure to take my degree off my CV for the latter job type applications but worried the 'employment gap' is more of a hindrance than the degree). Some take up to an hour to complete. Some closing dates on the NHS job site coming up this week (niche allied health profession I'm trained in) so hopefully i'll at least get an interview.

    However, i voiced my concern yesterday to my work coach that i may not be in employment by the summer holidays, as I expected. And asked what the rules are for the 6 week school break. I told her i'd be unable to commit anywhere near the same level of hours to job hunting as I currently am. She said that I'll still have my evening and nights, when my child is asleep, to job hunt. That's fair enough but i can't physically spend 6 hours a night job hunting. I was expecting her to say that an hour or two in the evenings would be enough but she expects me to do the same level of job hunting as I currently am.

    I came home and ranted to my friend that i expect I'll get zero sleep over the summer holidays because of this, and she said that when she was claiming JSA last year as a single parent, she didn't have to sign on once during the summer holidays (same job centre) and wasn't expected to look for work at all during the holidays due to not having childcare.

    I've just had a look on the gov.uk site and Gingerbread, and it does say that single parents are not expected to look for work over the holidays if it would be unreasonable or unaffordable to place the child in childcare. I have no family support, as they all work themselves full time, and my child's father is not involved. Therefore, the only alternative would be to pay a childcare provider. Which is completely unaffordable when I'm out of work.

    I go to sign again next Wed - a week before the schools break up, so I need to find my confidence to bring this up again. I'm worried about coming across as workshy or end up getting sanctioned. But there is a rule about this and my work coach isn't adhering to it.

    Just to be clear - I fully intend to continue job-hunting over the summer holidays. I'll be online searching and applying whenever I'm able to. But i can't guarantee a set number of applications or set number of hours. And i can't be going around handing in CVs to shops or speaking to managers about vacancies with my daughter in tow. So i am just looking for some flexibility over the holidays - not a complete break from job hunting. I'm just worried sick about being sanctioned if my activity diary isn't as full over the 6 week break as it is just now while my child is in school.

    Can anyone with experience offer any advice about this situation? Or suggest what I can say to bring it up again? My work coach is extremely intimidating.
Page 1
    • RUOKAnnie
    • By RUOKAnnie 15th Jun 17, 9:28 AM
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    RUOKAnnie
    • #2
    • 15th Jun 17, 9:28 AM
    • #2
    • 15th Jun 17, 9:28 AM
    Me again - just been reading through the Gingerbread 'special rules for claiming JSA as a single parent' document. I have been totally misled by my work coach.

    I was told, when signing the agreement, that i should be available for interviews immediately. I said that i would need to find childcare, so would be unable to attend an interview on a same day basis - or maybe not even the next day - but she just said 'what are the chances of that happening? most employers give at least a week's notice'. I believed her. So my agreement says i'm to be available for interviews immediately. Apparently single parents can request up to 7 days' notice.

    Likewise, i've signed the agreement that i will be available to start work in 7 days' notice. I again expressed my concerns about finding a childcare provider. This was glossed over, as above, saying that most employers give a few weeks' notice anyway. Apparently i could have asked for 28 days' notice.

    Again - just to be clear - it may be likely that, say i'm offered an interview today, i can attend (as my child is at school) but this won't always be the case. Therefore i wish i'd have been told i could have requested 7 days, just for flexibility in case the interview offer happens when my child is not at school.

    Really wish i'd seen that document now before i made my claim. I feel totally lied to. Can this be amended?
    • Caroline_a
    • By Caroline_a 15th Jun 17, 9:48 AM
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    Caroline_a
    • #3
    • 15th Jun 17, 9:48 AM
    • #3
    • 15th Jun 17, 9:48 AM
    Not sure about the rules re jobsearch, but my advice would be to put in place as many different childcare options you can before you start work. Working when you have children, especially as a single parent, means that you have to have a range of options for a variety of situations. So for example, what happens if your child is ill, what happens in holidays, what happens in bad weather situations, etc etc. I'm sure that flexibility in the workplace means that things will be easier, however your childcare will not be your employers issue!

    Going back to continuing your jobsearch, what time does your child go to bed during the holidays, and could you not say for, say an hour or two a day 'mummy has to work now, can you play on your own for a while?' My feeling is that children don't have to be entertained all day, and it's really good for them to entertain themselves for at least part of the day!
    • Guest101
    • By Guest101 15th Jun 17, 10:05 AM
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    Guest101
    • #4
    • 15th Jun 17, 10:05 AM
    • #4
    • 15th Jun 17, 10:05 AM
    An employer isn't going to give you 28 days notice for an interview.


    Whatever your agreement with the Job Centre is largely irrelevant.
    • RUOKAnnie
    • By RUOKAnnie 15th Jun 17, 10:08 AM
    • 6 Posts
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    RUOKAnnie
    • #5
    • 15th Jun 17, 10:08 AM
    • #5
    • 15th Jun 17, 10:08 AM
    Thanks for your reply, Caroline.

    I was working full time up until last month. I had solid childcare in place and my daughter would ideally return to this childcare provider when I next find employment. I told my work coach i am available to work 7.30am to 6.30pm (the hours that this childcare provider operates). If my child became sick or anything, i would take emergency parental leave and probably drive her over to my retired relative (4 hours drive away though). Luckily, in the 5 years i was in my last job, my child was only sick once and i only needed to take one day off as she recovered over the weekend.

    Unfortunately, however, without me paying this childcare provider, they aren't able to keep her place open. So i can't just drop her off to them at the drop of a hat. I would need to re-register her and pay them to keep a spot for her (which i'd be unable to afford until i got a job).

    My child goes to sleep around 9.30pm and wakes at 7am-ish. I would definitely be able to do some job searching in the evenings when she's asleep, or on and off during the day while she's watching TV or playing. My point, in my initial post, was that my work coach expects me to commit the same amount of hours to job searching during the holidays as I am able to accomplish just now during the day (while my child is at school). This just isn't possible.

    I definitely need some degree of flexibility over the holidays. And there is a rule that allows for this. I cannot go into the city centre, for example, and had out CVs with my daughter beside me. Nor would it be professional to pop into a shop and ask to speak to the manager about vacancies with my daughter beside me. I can't sit solidly at a computer and search and apply for jobs during the day as my daughter needs cared for.

    So, yes, i can still job hunt during the summer. And i will continue to do so whenever i can. But i require some flexibility in what I'm expected to achieve without childcare for 6 weeks. There is a rule in place for single parents and i'm confused why my job coach isn't adhering to it or even discussing it.
    • IAmWales
    • By IAmWales 15th Jun 17, 10:09 AM
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    IAmWales
    • #6
    • 15th Jun 17, 10:09 AM
    • #6
    • 15th Jun 17, 10:09 AM
    What do your friend's children do during the holidays, could she help you out if you had an interview?

    From an employer's point of view, if a candidate said they'd need seven days to arrange childcare I'd withdraw the interview offer. It would come across that you're not committed to finding work, and thwt you'd be off work whenever the child was ill or on holiday.

    And don't leave your degree off your cv!
    Last edited by IAmWales; 15-06-2017 at 10:11 AM.
    • RUOKAnnie
    • By RUOKAnnie 15th Jun 17, 10:14 AM
    • 6 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    RUOKAnnie
    • #7
    • 15th Jun 17, 10:14 AM
    • #7
    • 15th Jun 17, 10:14 AM
    Guest 101 - i don't see where your comment has came from ...

    28 days' notice is allowed for starting a job i.e. after the interview has already taken place and a job offer made.

    7 days' notice is allowed for interview attendance.

    These are special rules for single parents to allow for childcare arrangements. Special rules that i was not informed of.

    If i am offered an interview during the summer holidays, i will not be able to attend the same day. I would need to either drive my child to my nearest available relative (which would take around 4 hours to get there and 4 hours to get back) or would need to find and pay for a childcare provider. No registered child carer would take on an unknown child that quickly. The childcare provider that I have previously used would charge a £30 'short notice' fee for anything required before 4 weeks' notice and would only accept to look after my child the following day - not the same day.

    However, my agreement says that i am to be available for an interview immediately. If i tell an employer that i can't come to an interview later on that same day because of childcare - i would be sanctioned.
    • RUOKAnnie
    • By RUOKAnnie 15th Jun 17, 10:17 AM
    • 6 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    RUOKAnnie
    • #8
    • 15th Jun 17, 10:17 AM
    • #8
    • 15th Jun 17, 10:17 AM
    Thanks i-am wales - just to clarify:

    I wouldn't need 7 days' notice to attend an interview. I could very likely attend an interview with 2 days' notice. But my agreement says that I am to be available for interview immediately. I wish i would have been told about rules for single parents during my claim so that I could at least have had some flexibility. I could have requested 2 or 3 days' notice, for example.

    My friend has since moved area so not available to assist with short notice childcare.
    Last edited by RUOKAnnie; 15-06-2017 at 10:18 AM. Reason: spelling
    • Caroline_a
    • By Caroline_a 15th Jun 17, 10:25 AM
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    Caroline_a
    • #9
    • 15th Jun 17, 10:25 AM
    • #9
    • 15th Jun 17, 10:25 AM
    Without meaning to be critical I think you need to forget any special rules for single parents. I've been a single parent for the majority of the time my children were growing up, and although I know the rules are different now, most employers sadly tend to ignore this. So then you're between a rock and a hard place ('but the rules say this'... 'get another job then'...)

    I don't see why you couldn't take your daughter in to hand in CVs, it could be almost a talking point - this is DD, she's helping me today! I certainly wouldn't penalise any potential applicant who brought a well-behaved child in to hand in a CV.
    • Guest101
    • By Guest101 15th Jun 17, 10:32 AM
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    Guest101
    Guest 101 - i don't see where your comment has came from ... apologies I mistyped. however...

    28 days' notice is allowed for starting a job i.e. after the interview has already taken place and a job offer made. - Not if I want someone to start in 2 days, or 3, or 4, or5....

    7 days' notice is allowed for interview attendance. - again, not if I want the interview to take place tomorrow.

    These are special rules for single parents to allow for childcare arrangements. Special rules that i was not informed of. - Rules that employers don't have to follow....

    If i am offered an interview during the summer holidays, i will not be able to attend the same day. I would need to either drive my child to my nearest available relative (which would take around 4 hours to get there and 4 hours to get back) or would need to find and pay for a childcare provider. No registered child carer would take on an unknown child that quickly. The childcare provider that I have previously used would charge a £30 'short notice' fee for anything required before 4 weeks' notice and would only accept to look after my child the following day - not the same day.

    However, my agreement says that i am to be available for an interview immediately. If i tell an employer that i can't come to an interview later on that same day because of childcare - i would be sanctioned.
    Originally posted by RUOKAnnie


    It's been a while since I've been on JSA - but I see no reason why I would even tell the JC about an interview until after it's happened. thereby how would you be sanctioned?
    • Caroline_a
    • By Caroline_a 15th Jun 17, 10:44 AM
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    Caroline_a
    Shortest notice I've ever had for an interview was 2 hours. Recently when I was job hunting it averaged from a day to a week. The trick with getting a job when you are a single parent/have children is to ensure that you put up no barriers at all that the employer can see.

    So, if you have to take DD with you to hand out CVs, make sure that you turn that into a positive thing, that you coach her well beforehand to behave and to respond politely if spoken to. If due to childcare you can't make an interview, make sure you offer an alternative - 'I can't do it on that day, but can do it the day after if that is any use?' The job I am currently in offered me a second interview when I was on holiday in the US (had been booked before I was made redundant). I said no sorry I can't do that - but I can do it by webex or skype. They loved the solution... I got the job.
    • gettingtheresometime
    • By gettingtheresometime 15th Jun 17, 10:45 AM
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    gettingtheresometime
    How old is your daughter?
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    • Undervalued
    • By Undervalued 15th Jun 17, 3:37 PM
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    Undervalued
    How old is your daughter?
    Originally posted by gettingtheresometime
    Clearly school age but, presumably, not old enough to be left alone for part of the day?

    That said I am struggling to see why having a, presumably, 5 to 11 year old child at home completely prevents online job searching? I am sure it restricts it to some extent, so some extra time may have to be spent after the child has gone to bed, but no school aged child should need Mummy's undivided attention for every single waking moment!
    • elsien
    • By elsien 15th Jun 17, 3:46 PM
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    elsien
    To be fair to the OP, this is less about needing huge amounts of extra time and more about being misled by the work coach. Having had long conversations with them about UJM, they are not always completely open about the system.
    The OP is asking a simple question about the guidelines and whether she is within her rights to have the agreement amended over the school holidays.
    If anyone is able to say yes or no, then she can look at all the other suggestions being made.
    But if the guidelines are there then they should be upheld, and it's not unreasonable of the OP to be feeling slightly misled.
    Last edited by elsien; 15-06-2017 at 10:00 PM.
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
    • sangie595
    • By sangie595 15th Jun 17, 7:16 PM
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    sangie595
    I agree Elsien. But at the same time I think we have to appreciate that the others are rights as well - the "rules" will not be observed by employers, and if the OP wants to get a job, then she's going to need to be somewhat more creative. Truth be told, I think maybe the OP ought to have been a little more creative in the first place! If they can job search and so on, I'd have been tempted to say that the conversation with the work coach shouldn't have been had!

    OP wants a job. Is trying to get a job. Is going to do everything they can to get one. So if they aren't avoiding job search, which they clearly aren't, I'd suggest that "you are absolutely right, so my daughter is going to be at grans for the days while I job search" is fine. Childcare arrangements are none of their business. Don't discuss them with them. And just stick to "i searched job sites for two hours, filed in an application for two hours, etc etc." If you were looking to avoid employment and wanted a ride on the taxpayer, that would be different, but it doesn't sound for one minute like you are going to do anything other than grab a job with gusto. So being just a little sparing with the truth for a very few weeks, provided you don't miss a good opportunity for yourself... Well I'm sure the job coach had bigger fish to fry. There are times when shutting up is the best part of valor - this is one of them! Don't argue. Don't stand on rights and entitlements. Work it.
    • gettingtheresometime
    • By gettingtheresometime 15th Jun 17, 10:45 PM
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    gettingtheresometime
    Clearly school age but, presumably, not old enough to be left alone for part of the day?

    That said I am struggling to see why having a, presumably, 5 to 11 year old child at home completely prevents online job searching? I am sure it restricts it to some extent, so some extra time may have to be spent after the child has gone to bed, but no school aged child should need Mummy's undivided attention for every single waking moment!
    Originally posted by Undervalued
    That's why I asked - if the child goes to bed at 9.30 then I'm assuming that it wasn't a child of junior school age
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