Manditory Work Activity Sanction

edited 29 August 2012 at 12:42PM in Benefits & Tax Credits
20 replies 10.5K views
HertzBoxHertzBox Forumite
15 Posts
edited 29 August 2012 at 12:42PM in Benefits & Tax Credits
Hi All,

Any opinions, views, or advice would be welcomed.


After six months on Jobseekers Allowance, I was sent a Mandatory Work Activity document by the provider, Seetec, detailing type of work (British Heart Foundation), Address, Start Date and so on. On the bottom of the form was stated the following advice and I quote: What if I cannot attend my work placement start date?
And below this, underlined was the following answer:
Please telephone us immediately on 0845 etc
Well, as it turned out, an application I had made to a Voluntary organisation whose portfolio was crucial to my intention to apply for MA Social Work course (change of career) at one of the higher institutes of learning this September, resulted in my being called for an interview.

My Mandatory Work Activity was due to start on Friday and the interview was set for Monday. I returned home late on Thursday to find the interview letter. Since it was too late to make any phone calls that Thursday night, I made a phone call to Seetec, (Mandatory Work Activity, provider) next morning, i.e. Friday morning. The Monday interview was crucial to me and I was determined to give it my best shot. I felt I needed to turn up looking smart and needed to acquaint myself with some of the laws, information etc that I felt the interview would put to me and that I needed to know in order to stand chance of acceptance. The bus strike that Friday made matters worst, i.e I did not believe I could attend the Mandatory Work Activity start date and shop for cloths afterwards. I'd have to do so on Saturday and Sunday. My wife suffers from chronic gastric ulcer, I usually shop for her on Saturdays, cooking and any task she wants and now i would have to shop separately for interview cloths, get through rims of literature for the interview etc. For these reasons, I telephoned Seetec to inform them that I would not be able to start on Friday but would start on Tuesday. Whereupon the customer adviser started hollering at me that I was making excuses.

It was a startling experience, I felt humiliated. I mean, I am a mature adult, what possible benefit would I gain from starting Mandatory Work Activity two days later? It is not as if I would not have to complete the full 4 weeks work, it is not a if I was protesting against Mandatory Work Activity as some people have, all I wanted was time to prepare for a very crucial job interview. I ended up rowing with customer Adviser, which in turn ended in me slamming the phone down.

In any case, I attended the job interview on Monday and on Tuesday, I started work at the British Heart Foundation. I worked for three day until I received a letter stating the following, and I quote:

Having failed to start your Mandatory Work placement on 22/06/12, you are no longer required to attend.

If you are still looking for work you should report to jobcentre Plus.

I received a letter from JSA informing of intention to sanction me and I sent in a letter of appeal in which, essentially, I outlined the above. Well I have been sanctioned – therefore no income whatsoever – until the 30th of October 2012.


Thanks for your time.
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Replies

  • FBabyFBaby Forumite
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    I apply to any jobs I see that are more local than my current one. Because I want to insure a proper chance for an interview, I tailor my letters/application forms to each job and do a lot of preparation when I do get interviews. I do that working full-time, 45 minutes away from home and looking after two children. I do it in the evenings, once they are in bed, and week-ends if I get a chance around all the housework that needs doing every week. That's the situation for most people working looking for better prospect.

    So I'm not sure why you felt your needed 3 full days to prepare for an interview...I assume for an actual job, not a voluntary position.

    The reality is that to get JSA, you need to look actively for work and be available to start at any time. It is not money that falls freely in your ends to suit around your personal life. The fact that that interview was essential for the course you will be doing is of no concern to the jobcentre.

    You wanted an opinion. Mine is that if your interview on Monday was for a paid job, you should have attended the work programme Friday, shop and prepare during the week-end, and inform and request permission to leave the work programme on the Monday for the few hours required for the interview and then return to the work programme. If they had sanctioned you then, I think it would have been totally unfair. Under the circumstances you describe, I think it is the right decision.
  • Pippin12Pippin12 Forumite
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    OMG that is so harsh. Unbelievable (but I DO believe it). All I can say is you need to appeal and send in supporting evidence such as the letter telling you of your interview. In the meantime put in an application for a hardship payment to get you through.
  • shedboy94shedboy94 Forumite
    929 Posts
    If you had applied for the voluntary role with BHF knowing you would need to learn a lot of info, why did you leave it until the weekend before - surely you should have been better prepared in case you did get an interview?
    Why would you need to know so much info for a voluntary role?
    If expected to know all this info, why did the BHF only inform you of the interview a few days before - it seems quite unprofessional to expect someone to know all this stuff but only give a few days to learn it??
    If you needed clothes for an interview, why again did you not have any bought in advance - you have been out of work for 6 months so surely should have these types of things ready for when an interview came along? If indeed you don't own any trousers/shirts/ties, it doesn't take long to buy them - normally you can pick everything up in 1 shop, in fact most supermarkets sell a large range of these items, even suits, and seeing as they are normally open 24 hours, you could have got something on the thursday night - I doubt it would be saville row you would have been going for being on benefits.
    I don't neccesarily agree with the mandatory work placements, but if it's in the rules you need to follow them. No offence intended, but it does sound like a lot of excuses that could have easily been worked round.
  • DannyboyMidlandsDannyboyMidlands Forumite
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    Sounds like a load of excuses to me.

    Should have just gone to the work activity as requested and done the reading and other stuff at the weekend. It doesn't take long to pick up a shirt/trousers etc. whilst shopping for your wife. If pushed I could rattle that off in 10 minutes.
  • PippaGirl_2PippaGirl_2 Forumite
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    Shed, you need to read the OP again. He never applied for a position with BHF, it was mandatory work experience. The OP wanted several days to prepare for another interview on the Monday.

    I agree with FBaby that it is well known if you fail to attend mandatory work experience sanctions will happen. In retrospect the OP should have attended the work experience on the Friday, mentioned to them personally the interview on the Monday and they may well have allowed you to arrive late/go early for that. Some people less honest than me would have just cited a medical appointment on the Monday but I would go for honesty with the BHF but doing all possible hours with the BHF around the other interview.
    "Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them." Dalai Lama
  • PippaGirl_2PippaGirl_2 Forumite
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    Hertz, off topic but I know several newly qualified social workers either unemployed or working in other fields as there are few or no jobs within social work as council's have recruitment freezes due to budget cuts. You'll be ok if you want to work in child protection, but little else available. So the field is a bit flooded atm and hard to find employment in.
    "Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them." Dalai Lama
  • BigAuntyBigAunty Forumite
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    It's not common for an employer to give so little notice for an interview (one working day) so that's a shame.

    However some benefits demand you prioritise time for them and your other household tasks and personal plans must fit round them.

    The point about mandatory job seeking activities is that you are compelled to do them rather than just say I need to shop for clothes/read company documentation/cook for my wife. This is stuff you can/should do in your spare time.

    If you were in employment and seeking a new position, you would generally spend the evenings and weekends on preparing for the new job interview and cut down on other responsibilities. You might take the day off work for the interview but you might just take the morning or afternoon.

    Not having any interview clothes seems woefully underprepared (but can be sorted out in a couple of hours) and 3 days to prepare for an interview is very generous, particularly when you were advised in certain terms of a mandatory start date for your work programme and just decided the 'mandatory' bit didn't apply to you.

    So I can see why a full Monday commitment was impossible but not why you felt you deserved the Friday to yourself.

    If you tell an employer you can't get in because there's a bus strike and I think you'll find they'll expect you to come in a cab or get a lift from a colleague.

    But no real harm is done despite the sanction as you are now in employment (so long as you turn up when your employer expects you to..)
  • shedboy94shedboy94 Forumite
    929 Posts
    PippaGirl wrote: »
    Shed, you need to read the OP again. He never applied for a position with BHF, it was mandatory work experience. The OP wanted several days to prepare for another interview on the Monday.

    I agree with FBaby that it is well known if you fail to attend mandatory work experience sanctions will happen. In retrospect the OP should have attended the work experience on the Friday, mentioned to them personally the interview on the Monday and they may well have allowed you to arrive late/go early for that. Some people less honest than me would have just cited a medical appointment on the Monday but I would go for honesty with the BHF but doing all possible hours with the BHF around the other interview.

    My bad........I see that now..........however it still doesn't explain why he would apply for a position that would require a lot of knowledge, but not actually revise for it until he got an interview letter.
  • shedboy94shedboy94 Forumite
    929 Posts
    BigAunty wrote: »
    But no real harm is done despite the sanction as you are now in employment (so long as you turn up when your employer expects you to..)

    It's voluntary though........:p
  • BigAuntyBigAunty Forumite
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    shedboy94 wrote: »
    It's voluntary though........:p

    oh, blimey, I misread, I expect there's an appeals procedure where perhaps he gets to show what he thinks is the good cause he had in ignoring his instructions? Hopefully someone can outline the appeals process and the hardship payments to him.

    I wonder whether the OP was so very keen on his preferred voluntary work, rather than the one he was compelled to take up that week, that he inadvertently sabotaged his mandatory activity so he could prioritise the other.

    Out of curiosity, does anyone know if, for example, the OP was offered his preferred voluntary position, whether he would have been able to have taken this up or would be forced to do the programme specified by the DWP or forego his benefits anyway?

    I mean, the OP has targetted his personal preference to fit in with future study plans so how much discretion does the mandatory work placement scheme allow - - surely the DWP has a very 'computer says no' mentality and expects candidates to do the placement they arrange? Perhaps the OP, if offered his preferred placement that he sought off his own bat, could not have then did it and then continue to claim JSA anyway? I don't know, I'm just generating some debate on this.
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