Can I claim benefits if I leave my job? (3 Pointers)
This blog will explore the benefits that can be claimed if a person leaves their job, due to various reasons. It details the process, the conditions and the circumstances that will permit the entitlement to benefits.
It also answers some key questions pertaining to the process of resignation and the implications for inclusion in and receipt of welfare schemes.
Can I claim benefits if I leave my job ?
You may be eligible for certain benefits if you leave your job , but this depends greatly on the reasons for quitting the job and also any other sources of income or savings or financial support you may have to tide you over during the period of unemployment.
In essence it depends on the context of the resignation and the life circumstances, particularly financial circumstances of the individual in question who wants to claim benefits.
Benefits available when you resign voluntarily (but with reasons)
Benefits available on resignation and consequent unemployment
You can continue to claim benefits like Universal Credit or make claims anew. There are components in Universal Credit which replicate the Job-seekers Allowance that existed prior to the UC system.
You can also claim the new-style Job-seeker’s Allowance along with your Universal Credit.
New-style Job-seeker’s Allowance can coexist with the UC benefits but it depends on your circumstances and the benefit cap that applies when you receive multiple forms of income support.
You may get either one of them or a combination, because the income contributory based JSA has been discontinued and replaced by Universal Credit.
This support will help the beneficiary to tide over the period of unemployment until they can find another job.
The claimant must , however, prove that they are actively looking for a job and that they are honoring the terms of the Claimant Commitment that was agreed to with the local Job centre and work coach.
If they do not keep up their commitment and do not have a justifiable reason for not searching, the JSA will be stopped.
The amount of allowance under this category is subject to a maximum limit. But the rates depend on your age category. The two rates and categories are illustrated below :
|JSA Weekly Amount
|Lower than or at 24 years
|Up to £59.20
|25 years and above
|Up to £74.70
It must be remembered that the JSA is available only to those who have been employed and have made Class 1 National insurance contributions for at least the past 2-3 years.
If the claimant was self-employed and paid Class 2 contributions towards national insurance then, they are not eligible for this benefit.
Moreover, you can only claim it if you are over 18 and are unemployed or working for only 16 hours or less a week but are available and ready for work.
Conditions/Requirements for claiming the above benefits
Upon leaving your job you may be eligible to claim the above mentioned benefits that are geared towards unemployed individuals and to tide them over a period in which income and earnings are comparatively less or absent.
If you have left your job voluntarily and of your own free-will, without any other reason that compelled you to take the decision or any other rationale that justifies it, then you could actually face a penalty in your benefit receipts.
This process is called a ‘sanction’. It means that the individual concerned will receive a lesser amount of benefits under the Universal Credit scheme and other benefit packages for a period of 3 months.
In case the sanction makes meeting ends meet very difficult, you may be eligible for a ‘hardship payment’ from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), but this will need to be repaid once you rejoin the workforce.
The repayment will be through deductions or decreases in the Universal credit benefits you will receive afterwards.
So any individual should think carefully about resigning and only do so if they have legitimate reasons and have ensured that the employer has legally accepted the resignation.
Make sure that you can illustrate at least one of the following reasons definitively, if you are resigning, so that the DWP does not sanction you, rather it permits you to access benefits :
- If you accepted a voluntary redundancy package then your resignation may be considered to be done with good reason. A voluntary redundancy happens when the company is restructuring or downsizing.
To hasten the process, it offers extra incentives to workers who voluntarily resign in light of the situation so that it doesn’t have to incur additional wage costs until the employer is forced to layoff workers with the redundancy compensation.
It works out cheaper for the employer and so workers may be coerced to take this option.
The better option for workers would be to wait until they are made compulsorily redundant , because then they receive wages until the last day and they receive a redundancy payment.
But employers can convince workers with higher financial incentives at present and also through indirect pressure to leave of their own accord.
- Constructive dismissal – this has commonalities with voluntary redundancy although it includes a much larger number of possible situations under its rubric.
If you are being forced to leave your job by your employer through any pressure tactics like ill-treatment or the employer threatens to fire you if you don’t leave on your own, then this counts as a dismissal.
- If you are not receiving nationally decreed Minimum Wage then it is legal and reasonable ground for quitting your job.
- Unsafe working conditions are also accepted by the DWP as a good reason to quit.
Especially for workers in factories or construction etc. there may be hazardous working conditions that do not meet the safety standards/health regulations of the industry.
If this can be illustrated then it justified the resignation.
- If you are working under the terms of a zero hour contract then your resignation is on valid grounds.
This is because a zero hour contract allows the employer to dictate the number of hours you work which could be less than the minimum number per week. They are not legally bound to provide employment for the minimum number of hours.
In such cases, if you work less than 16 hours a week you are entitled to unemployment benefits like Job-seeker’s Allowance.
Benefits available if you resign due to stress
The same unemployment benefits like Job-seeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit provision will be extended to you if you resign due to stress. But you must make sure that you abide by certain requirements in this regard.
The following possibilities exist :
- You may feel unsafe at work due to bullying and/or harassment by either colleagues or the employer, which makes you feel intimidated or agitated at the workplace.
- You could fall sick due to stress and thus be unable to work and choose resignation over maltreatment by colleagues and bosses.
In either of these cases, there are a few initial steps you should take and ensure certain safeguards are in place before you resign.
Firstly you should make sure that any options to address these issues within the company have been exhausted. You should have tried at least one or more of the following in-house reconciliation options :
- You should have spoken to the employer about your problem and this meeting and its minutes should ideally be recorded/on-the-books for later evidentiary purposes.
- You could have requested a formal mediation or conciliation arrangement between you and whoever is causing distress for you.
- A formal complaint/grievance could have been filed.
- If you are part of a trade union, then they could have been brought in for helping resolve the situation.
- You could have requested or the employer themselves could have arranged for in-house counselling or flexible work arrangements if you are stressed/burnt out/or facing difficulties working due to stress-induced problems.
All these efforts should be documented, preferably in a formal manner to present as evidence to the DWP of the existence of the particular situation and the lack of action thereof that forced you to quit.
This could include any emails that are exchanged between you and your employer that can prove that despite your complaints and/or requests for resolution/concessions, the employer has ignored the issues and has not addressed them.
Such emails could help you make claims for ‘constructive dismissal’ at the Employment
Tribunals. Make sure the decision to quit/resign is given in writing with the reasons so that there is conclusive evidence.
Remember that just a claim of stress cannot make you eligible for unemployment benefits.
You need to have a good reason and evidence of that reason to qualify. So try to maintain a record of any difficult events/issues that have distressed you and any formal complaints you have filed in this regard.
Benefits available if I resign due to illness/disability
To ensure clarity, there is a distinction made between stress due to the job and manifest illnesses/disabilities which are diagnosable.
If the stress at work leads to an illness that comes under the DWP classification of disabilities or ‘hidden disabilities’ then it is applicable under this section along with other disabilities.
If you resign due to illness or disability you are entitled to the Employment Support and Allowance benefit (ESA) specifically in addition to other benefits like Universal Credit.
This benefit provides monetary support if you can’t work or work less than your capacity due to an illness or disability.
It also provides money to tide over a period of unemployment until the beneficiary goes back to work.
The amount of ESA varies for those who will not go back to work i.e. the support group and the beneficiaries who will eventually resume work i.e. the work-related activity group.
The beneficiary has to have been employed and have made Class 1 National Insurance contributions/received NI credits for at least 2-3 years prior to resigning.
They must be 18 years old or above and be unemployed or working less than 16 hours a week to get this benefit.
Moreover self-employed people who pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions do not have claim to this entitlement.
This blog has explored the benefits that can be claimed if a person leaves their job, due to various reasons. It has detailed the process, the conditions and the circumstances that will permit the entitlement to benefits.
It also answered some key questions pertaining to the process of resignation and the implications for inclusion in and receipt of welfare schemes.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)- Can I claim benefits if I leave my job ?
Can I claim maternity allowance/support if I leave my job ?
Yes.You are entitled to receive one of the following maternity benefits whether you leave your job or are laid off.
You can receive Statutory Maternity Pay if you were working for your employer for at least 7 months prior to getting pregnant and for at least 15 weeks into the pregnancy. This is a legal minimum requisite.
If you meet the above requirements, you will have to receive this benefit irrespective of the reason why you left or were laid off etc. But the claimant must have completed the necessary time period.
If you leave earlier than you either will not get the benefit or it will become harder for you to get it.
The Statutory Maternity Pay can be substituted by a Contractual Maternity Pay that is company specific and offered by the private employer.
The only condition is that the amount must not be less than the Statutory allowance and must not put the claimant at a disadvantage thereof.
If the employer pays neither of these allowances for whatever reason, you can receive Maternity Allowance from the government. For more information please refer- Maternity pay – what you’re entitled to – Citizens Advice.
Can I get benefits if I leave my job during an ongoing disciplinary hearing against me ?
It is unlikely that you will be able to access unemployment benefits if you have resigned while a disciplinary proceeding is going on against you.
This could be because of too many absences, poor quality of work or unprofessional behaviour/conduct at the workplace.
Irrespective of the reason, the mention of a disciplinary proceeding that is ongoing in your references from your employer will make it hard for you to get other jobs and abide by the criteria for the Job-seeker’s Allowance (which stipulates an active job search, that could be impeded by poor references and records).
As a consequence the DWP may sanction you by withholding or reducing the amount of Universal Credit and Job-seeker’s Allowance you receive for 3 months.
To understand the entire procedure and regulations involved in disciplinary hearings and how to challenge such verdicts, if you feel it is unjust and impedes your job search, you may refer to- Dealing with disciplinary action at work – Citizens Advice.
What legalities should I be mindful of so I can claim benefits when I resign ?
You should ensure that you take note of and have a formal record of when you gave your notice and also the date of your last payslip.
To avoid any legal hassles you must give notice according to the company guidelines for a minimum period.
This notice must be formally recorded in an email or similar communications, and if you want to claim benefits you must also include details of any of the above mentioned circumstances e.g. employer coercion, harassment, voluntary redundancy etc.
If a good reason is not included in correspondence , the DWP will have no evidence on the basis of which they can extend benefits.
The date on which notice was given and the resignation came into effect and the last day of work , should also be mentioned so that the benefits can be claimed from the same date or thereabouts.
The second matter to pay attention to is the date of the last payslip you receive from your employer.
This is essential not only to ensure receipt of any unpaid dues or entitlements e.g. holiday payments, bonuses etc. It is also necessary to claim insurance, but perhaps most important to claim benefits from the start of unemployment.
Can I claim Universal Credit If I leave my job ?
Eligibility for Universal Credit does not depend on your employment status.
The amount of UC benefit and the components you receive may vary depending on whether you are unemployed or are employed and if so for how many hours per week, as also what your wages are.
But eligibility itself does not depend on whether you are working or not. You will receive UC benefits in line with your circumstances and requirements. Any earning can reduce the amount of UC you get.
So if you are resigning from a job, weigh the pros and cons of making an early UC claim before you receive your last salary, because the final salary payment and any other bonuses like holiday entitlement could reduce your UC benefit in the first assessment period.
Any redundancy pay will also affect your UC entitlements because it is considered a part of capital. If your redundancy pay tips your capital savings over the 6000 pound mark, then your UC award could be reduced.
For more on Universal Credit and its application for working and non-working people and those who resign or who are furloughed please refer to – Have you just left work and need to claim universal credit? | Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (litrg.org.uk).
Can I receive benefits if I leave my job to care for my children ?
Yes. The application processes for Job-seeker’s Allowance and Income Support and Universal Credit do make benefits available for people who have left their jobs in order to take better care of their children.
You should be able to show that you have tried to negotiate with your current employer for more flexible arrangements or other concessions to be able to balance your work and childcare responsibilities.
You should also have evidence that you have looked for other childcare options that would have enabled you to retain the job, or that you are actively looking for jobs that have arrangements that help you balance your responsibilities as a parent/caregiver and an employee.
If you meet these requirements you can claim Income Support if your child is younger than 5 years and you can claim JSA or UC if your child is older than 5 years.
But if you don’t have a good reason like the above and cannot substantiate your claim then the JSA , UC and other benefits will be withheld for 3 months.
- Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). (n.d.). GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/jobseekers-allowance/eligibility
- Will I lose out on benefits if I leave my job voluntarily? | WorkSmart: The career coach that works for everyone. (n.d.). Worksmart.org.uk. Retrieved October 25, 2021, from https://worksmart.org.uk/work-rights/losing-your-job/leaving-your-job/will-i-lose-out-benefits-if-i-leave-my-job-voluntarily#:~:text=When%20you%20leave%20your%20job
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