Jobseekers Benefit and Allowance-Frequently Asked Questions


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  1. What payment can I claim if I lose my job? Am I entitled to payment if my working week is reduced?
  2. I am due to be laid off shortly and I am expecting a baby. What are my entitlements?
  3. If I get a redundancy payment, am I entitled to anything?
  4. I have been working abroad for the last couple of years. I have now returned to Ireland and I am looking for a job. Can I apply for a jobseekers payment?
  5. I have been self-employed for some time but I now have no work. Is there anything I can claim?
  6. I have been on a career break. My employer is not in a position to take me back on completion of the career break. Am I entitled to claim JB/JA?
  7. Where should I apply for JB/JA?
  8. What documents do I need to bring when making a claim for JB/JA?
  9. Is it possible to make a claim by post or online?
  10. Will it be long before I get my payment? What can I do in the meantime?
  11. What are the current rates of payment for JB/JA?
  12. Do I have to pay tax on my jobseeker's payment?
  13. What are the Rates for Jobseeker's Allowance for those 18-24?
  14. I am aged between 20 and 24 and on a jobseeker's payment will I be affected by the changes announced in Budget 2010?
  15. What happens if I am aged 20-24 claiming Jobseeker's Allowance and on a training course?
  16. How will I get my payment?
  17. How often will I be required to sign on at the social welfare office?
  18. Is Sunday treated as a day of employment or unemployment?
  19. How long can I continue to get the payment?
  20. If I take up employment or training for a short period, do I have to reapply for my jobseeker's payment all over again?
  21. I'm currently on a jobseekers payment. I'm thinking of setting up a business but will I be entitled to any payment if I don't get sufficient work?
  22. I booked a holiday last year while I was still in employment. If I go on the holiday, will I still get my jobseekers payment?
  23. Are there any other benefits I can get in addition to JB/JA?
  24. Can I get any help with my rent or mortgage payments?
  25. Can I undertake volunteer work while on JA/JB?
  26. What about my PRSI/social insurance record while I am unemployed?
  27. If I want to transfer my jobseeker's benefit to another country, what must I do?
  28. Am I entitled to the Household Benefits package or Free Travel?
  29. Where can I find out more about internship?
  30. What changes to the jobseeker's benefit payment week were announced in Budget 2012 and take effect from 26 July 2012?

1. What payment can I claim if I lose my job? Am I entitled to payment if my working week is reduced?

Jobseeker's Benefit (JB) is a social insurance scheme. It is paid weekly to people who have paid adequate social insurance contributions and who are out of work. To qualify for JB, you must have:

  • at least 104 reckonable contributions paid since you entered insurable employment. Only contributions payable at Classes A, H and P (or the equivalent rates before April 1979) are reckonable for this purpose; and
  • at least 39 reckonable contributions paid or credited in the governing contribution year (currently 2009)* and 13 of these must be paid contributions. If you do not have 13 paid contributions in 2009, you must have the 13 paid contributions in 2007, 2008, 2010 or 2011.
  1. OR
  • at least 104 reckonable contributions paid since you entered insurable employment. Only contributions payable at Classes A, H and P (or the equivalent rates before April 1979) are reckonable for this purpose; and
  • 26 reckonable contributions paid in both the governing contribution year and the previous year (currently 2009 and 2008) (See Note below).

To qualify for JB, you must be unemployed for at least 3 days in 6 and must suffer a substantial loss of employment and be available for work and looking for work. Unemployed people who are classified as casual workers do not have to have suffered a substantial loss of employment.

There are 3 categories of claimant who may qualify for JB while partially employed:

  • Systematic short-time workers
  • Casual workers, and
  • Part-time workers.

Subsidiary employment: special provision

A day is not normally treated as a day of unemployment if the claimant is engaged in any occupation from which they derive any remuneration or profit. In cases where a claimant loses their full-time job and continues to work in their part-time job, their part-time job may be considered subsidiary if the following conditions are satisfied:

  • the occupation could ordinarily have been followed by them in addition to their usual employment, and
  • the occupation could ordinarily have been followed by them outside the ordinary working hours of their usual employment
  1. and either
  • the remuneration or profit from the occupation does not exceed €12.70 per day, or, where the remuneration or profit is in respect of a longer period, it does not on a daily average exceed €12.70 per day
  1. or
  • at least 117 employment contributions have been paid in respect of them in either the last 3 years or the last 3 complete contribution years immediately prior to the date of claim.

In general, it would be deemed appropriate to consider an occupation/employment as subsidiary where the above conditions are satisfied and where both employments were carried out concurrently for a period of 6 months immediately prior to the date of claim. In such circumstances, it is possible for a person to be engaged in insurable employment or self-employment and still satisfy the unemployment condition.

Jobseeker's Allowance (JA)

JA is a means-tested payment made to people who are unemployed and who do not qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit or whose entitlement to Jobseeker's Benefit has expired.

Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance is payable in respect of any week of unemployment if you meet the qualifying conditions. You must be unemployed for 3 days in a period of 6 consecutive days. Sunday is not treated as a day of unemployment and is disregarded in computing any period of consecutive days.

Voluntarily Left Employment

You may be disqualified from receiving Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance for up to 9 weeks from the date of leaving employment if you left the employment voluntarily and without just cause.

Employment lost because of misconduct

You may be disqualified from receipt of JB or JA for up to 9 weeks where you have lost your employment through your own misconduct. The duration of the disqualification is discretionary, although it may not exceed 9 weeks.

Credits

Credited contributions are awarded for the duration of the above disqualifications, subject to the conditions of being available for and capable of work being fulfilled.

Waiting Days

You are not entitled to Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance for the first 3 days of a claim. These 3 days are called waiting days.

Late Claims

A claim may be backdated for a maximum of 6 months where the person can prove to the satisfaction of the Deciding Officer or Appeals Officer that they satisfied the qualifying conditions throughout the period and that there was good cause for delay in making the claim.

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2. I am due to be laid off shortly and I am expecting a baby. What are my entitlements?

In the absence of any complications of pregnancy or other illness, a pregnant woman (who may not be entitled to Maternity Benefit) satisfies the condition of being capable of work for the purpose of Jobseeker's Benefit/Allowance throughout her pregnancy and in the period following the birth. You will also satisfy the availability condition unless there are other factors which could call your general availability for work into question. You must, however, continue to look for work throughout your pregnancy and in the period after the birth of your child in order to satisfy the condition of genuinely seeking work. You will not normally be requested to prove that you are genuinely seeking work in the four weeks immediately before the expected date of birth of her child or in the eight week period following the birth. You will not be required to attend at the Local Office for signing during this period provided you tell the Local Office of your pregnancy.

Maternity Benefit:

To qualify for maternity benefit, you must have been in insurable employment within 16 weeks of the end of the week your baby is due. If you lose your employment, your maternity leave must start from the following day. When your maternity benefit is exhausted, you may apply for Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance.

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3. If I get a redundancy payment, am I entitled to anything?

In certain circumstances, a person who has been made redundant shall be disqualified from receiving Jobseeker's Benefit for a period of up to 9 weeks from the last date of employment. This disqualification applies only to persons who are:

  • under age 55, AND
  • have received or are entitled to a payment in excess of €50,000 under the Redundancy Payments Acts or under an agreement with their employer. This amount includes the gross amount of all payments in respect of the redundancy, e.g., statutory redundancy, top-up or ex-gratia payments related to weeks of service, early encashment of pension entitlements (if from employer's funds) and any other money received under an agreement with the employer.

Period of Disqualification

It should be noted that, while the imposition of a disqualification is mandatory, the duration of the disqualification is discretionary and may range from one day up to the maximum period of 9 weeks.

Amount of redundancy received

In order to facilitate a degree of consistency with regard to the application of the legislation, the following schedule may be used as a guide to what might be considered to be an appropriate period of disqualification, having regard to the gross amount of redundancy received:

From 1st February 2007 the disregard that applies to Jobseeker's Benefit recipients is as follows
Amount of Redundancy Payment New Banding Period of Disqualification
€50,000.00 to €55,000
1 week
€55,000.01 to €60,000
2 week
€60,000.01 to €65,000
3 weeks
€65,000.01 to €70,000
4 weeks
€70,000.01 to €75,000
5 weeks
€75,000.01 to €80,000
6 weeks
€80,000.01 to €85,000
7 weeks
€85,000.01 to €90,000
8 weeks
€90,000.01 and over
9 weeks

In cases where the customer intends to use some of the redundancy payment to clear or reduce debts which have accrued, it is reasonable for Deciding Officers to offset these debts against the amount received before determining an appropriate period of disqualification, e.g. arrears of mortgage or rent, arrears of telephone/electricity/gas bills and debts to moneylenders. Account may also be taken of costs related to any exceptional needs, e.g. the cost of converting the customer's home to facilitate wheelchair access by a family member.

Cumulative total of days paid

In all of the above circumstances, the period of disqualification is treated as if JB was paid throughout, i.e., the cumulative total of days of JB paid is continued for the duration of the disqualification. This means in effect that the maximum duration of JB entitlement for a person who has been disqualified for a period is 312 or 234 days less the period of the disqualification, i.e., disqualified for 3 weeks = 18 days, therefore payment starts on day 19.

Credits

Credited contributions are awarded for the duration of the above disqualifications, subject to the conditions of being available for and capable of work being fulfilled.

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4. I have been working abroad for the last couple of years. I have now returned to Ireland and I am looking for a job. Can I apply for a jobseekers payment?

If you have been working in another EU member State, your social insurance record in that Member State may be credited to your record in Ireland to help you qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit. If you need to combine your contributions from another EU country to claim Jobseeker's Benefit, you must have paid at least 1 reckonable contribution since the date of your return to Ireland.

Agreement Between Ireland and the United Kingdom

The agreement is to protect the benefit rights of people who have worked and paid reckonable social security contributions in Ireland and in those parts of the United Kingdom that are outside the European Union, i.e. the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

From 1 October 2007, people who have been working both in Ireland and the Isle of Man/the Channel Islands, i.e. the islands of Jersey and Guernsey - islands which are not members of the EU - will have the years when they worked on these islands taken into account when applying for social welfare entitlements in Ireland.

If you do not qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit, you may apply for Jobseeker's Allowance for which you will need to meet the habitual residence condition in addition to the other qualifying conditions for payment.


5. I have been self-employed for some time but I now have no work. Is there anything I can claim?

Applicants who do not have the required PRSI contributions for Jobseeker's Benefit may apply for Jobseeker's Allowance.


6. I have been on a career break. My employer is not in a position to take me back on completion of the career break. Am I entitled to claim JB/JA?

A person on a career break is considered to be 'not unemployed' during the agreed period of the career break and will not receive JB/JA during this time. Where the agreed period of the career break has ended and you have sought to return to work but cannot due to a lack of a vacancy, you may apply for Jobseeker's Benefit/Allowance.

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7. Where should I apply for JB/JA?

Applications should be made to your Social Welfare Local Office or Branch Office.

Download Application forms for Jobseekers Benefit or Allowance

You can download the application form from the Department's website


8. What documents do I need to bring when making a claim for JB/JA?

  • A P.45 should be submitted if it is available when making a claim or as soon as it becomes available.

Evidence of Identity

When you make a claim for Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance, the local office will ask you to show evidence of your identity and address.

You can provide evidence of your identity by showing your passport or your driver's licence.

If you do not have either a passport or driver's licence, you should bring any other document that you may have, particularly one that has your photograph on it.

The following documents may also be acceptable: Credit or Debit Card; Medical Card, Age ID Card, Work ID Card, Club Membership Card.

The following items are not accepted as proof of identity:

  • Birth or Baptismal certificates
  • Bills or personal letters

Evidence of address

You may be asked to show evidence of your address. Therefore, you should bring any of the following documents:

  • Recent bills from utility companies such as electricity, telephone (landline or mobile), gas, cable television, waste charges, etc.
  • Recent statements/correspondence from banks, building societies, credit unions, credit card companies or other financial institutions;
  • Recent letters addressed to you from insurance companies, local authorities, Government Departments or the Revenue Commissioners;
  • Local authority rent book, mortgage or leasing agreement.

Note: a recent document is one issued within the last 2 months. All documents must be originals, not photocopies.

It will not be possible to make a decision on your claim until evidence of your identity and address have been seen.

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9. Is it possible to make a claim by post or online?

No. A claim must be made in person at your Social Welfare Local Office or Branch Office.


10. Will it be long before I get my payment? What can I do in the meantime?

It is not possible to say how long it will take to process your claim. Persons who find themselves in financial difficulty may apply for assistance under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme. Applications can be made to the Community Welfare Officer at your local health centre.


11. What are the current rates of payment for JB/JA?

From 30th. December 2010, the rates are as follows:

Jobseeker's Benefit /Jobseekers Allowance – full weekly personal rate is €188.00, qualified adult rate €124.80 and qualified child rate €29.80. See Questions 13-15 below regarding Jobseeker's Allowance rates for customers 18- 24 years.

For Jobseeker's Benefit, the personal rate payable depends on the claimant's average earnings in 2009 (current governing contribution year) (See Note below). If the average weekly earnings in that year were €300 (gross) per week or more, the full personal rate of JB is payable. Where the average weekly earnings were less than €300, a reduced personal rate of JB is paid.

The amount payable for any day of unemployment (Monday to Saturday) is one-sixth of the weekly rate, except for short-time workers, when it is one-fifth. In systematic short-time cases, the total number of days worked and on Jobseeker's Benefit cannot be more than five in any working week.

You may receive a reduced Jobseeker's Allowance payment if you work part-time or casually for up to three days a week. A person's weekly means is worked out as follows:

  • Gross income less deductions for PRSI, superannuation/AVCs/PRSAs and union dues and the public service pension levy;
  • A disregard of €20 a day for each day worked up to a maximum of 3 days each week is deducted (max. €60 a week)
  • The balance is multiplied by 60%.

The rate payable is the weekly Jobseeker's Assistance rate less the means. If your means are more than the Jobseeker's Allowance weekly rate, there is no entitlement to payment.

Requalification for JB

If your full Jobseeker's Benefit entitlement has expired, you may requalify for Jobseeker's Benefit when you have paid 13 contributions at the appropriate class after the date of expiry of 156 days of JB. You must also meet all other statutory conditions, including that of a substantial loss of employment prior to making a new claim. If you worked continuously three days a week prior to expiry of their Jobseeker's Benefit claim/entitlement and continue on the same pattern, there would be no substantial loss of employment.

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12. Do I have to pay tax on my jobseeker's payment?

Jobseeker's Allowance is not taxable.

Jobseeker's Benefit is taxable. However, if you are getting Jobseeker's Benefit because your normal working week has been reduced temporarily (systematic short-time work) your Jobseeker's Benefit is not taxed. If you are working part-time and getting Jobseeker’s Benefit for the days you are not employed your Jobseeker’s Benefit is taxable. Find out more about the taxation of Jobseeker's Benefit.


13. What are the Rates for Jobseeker's Allowance for those 18-24?

From the 29th December 2010 the rates are as follows:

  • Maximum Personal rate for customer18-21 years €100.00, the qualified adult rate €100.00, these rates apply if the couple have no children
  • Maximum Personal rate for customer 22-24 years €144.00, the qualified adult rate €124.80, these rates apply if the couple have no children
  • (see Question 14 below regarding those not affected)

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14. I am aged between 20 and 24 and on a jobseeker's payment will I be affected by the changes announced in Budget 2010?

You will not be affected if you

  • are an existing claimant;
  • have dependent children;
  • have paid sufficient PRSI contributions to qualify for the Jobseeker's Benefit and
  • are transferring to Jobseeker's Allowance immediately after exhausting your entitlement to JB; or if you are transferring directly from Disability Allowance to JA.
  • have a claim which is linked to an earlier claim.

15. What happens if I am aged 20-24 claiming Jobseeker's Allowance and on a training course?

The full adult rate of Jobseeker's Allowance will be paid to those who:

  • Participate in a full-time Youthreach course for young early school leavers or a full-time course in a Senior Traveller Training Centre;
  • Qualify for the Back to Education Allowance for pursuing a full-time second level course or Post Leaving Cert/VTOS course; or
  • Participate in a full-time FÁS training course.

A person in this category will be selected for the Employment Action Plan after 53 days on the Live-Register, and directed to FAS for appropriate training, education and jobseeking interventions.

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16. How will I get my payment?

Jobseeker's Benefit and Jobseeker's Allowance are paid weekly in arrears in a post office using a social welfare services card. Casual workers are paid by cheque.


17. How often will I be required to sign on at the social welfare office?

The local office will decide how often you must sign, where and at what times. You may be disallowed for failure to sign on. Usually, customers sign once a month but this may vary.

Where you fail to sign on your signing day and you have still failed to sign by the next payment run date, payment is suspended on the computer system and the next payment does not issue.

Where you contact the local office and a Deciding Officer is satisfied that you still satisfy the statutory conditions for Jobseeker's Benefit/Allowance, the payment suspension is removed and payment will issue.

Regular failure to attend on the appointed signing day may result in loss of payment.

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18. Is Sunday treated as a day of employment or unemployment?

Sunday is not treated as a day of unemployment and is disregarded in computing any period of consecutive days. Although Sunday is not treated as a day of unemployment, employment on a Sunday is counted in establishing the normal level of employment. A loss of employment on a Sunday can therefore satisfy the "substantial loss" test for claiming Jobseeker's Benefit.


19. How long can I continue to get the payment?

Jobseeker's Benefit may be paid for up to 234 or 312 days of unemployment. However, the duration of benefit varies according to the class of qualifying contribution and the number of total contributions paid since a person started working (see below).

  • If a customer has 260 Class A contributions paid, they may be paid a total of 12 months (312 days).
  • If a customer has less than 260 contributions paid they may be paid for a total of 9 months (234 days).

Over 18 and under 65

In the case of persons aged between 18 and 65 years, JB is payable for a maximum of 312 days where 260 contributions are paid or 234 days where less than 260 contributions are paid since entry into insurance (12 months/ 9 months) after which the person's entitlement expires.

Over 65 and under 66

A person may receive JB up to the day before their 66th birthday. Persons aged between 65 and 66 years, where their entitlement to benefit exhausts, are entitled to receive JB payment beyond 312 days (12 months) or 234 days (9 months) - whichever is applicable - up to the date on which they reach pensionable age (66 years) provided they have not less than 156 paid contributions since entering employment and they satisfy the second contribution condition.

Jobseeker's Allowance is payable for as long as the qualifying conditions are satisfied.

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20. If I take up employment or training for a short period, do I have to reapply for my jobseeker's payment all over again?

The Department operates a fast-tracking system for customers who sign off to take up work for a short period (up to 8 weeks) or to go on a short training course (up to 8 weeks). This ensures that payment is re-instated without delay. It is important that you inform the local office in advance that you are taking up work or training.


21. I'm currently on a jobseekers payment. I'm thinking of setting up a business but will I be entitled to any payment if I don't get sufficient work?

You may qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance. Please contact your Social Welfare Local Office.


22. I booked a holiday last year while I was still in employment. If I go on the holiday, will I still get my jobseekers payment?

You may receive Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance for two weeks holidays (i.e. 12 days excluding Sundays) in any calendar year. These holidays may be taken abroad.

If you intend going on holidays abroad, you should inform the Local Office two weeks in advance of your departure and complete form UP 30. All holiday payments will be made retrospectively when you return. If you go on holiday for longer than two weeks, you may be paid in respect of the first two weeks, but will not receive payment for any period abroad in excess of this.

The qualified adult of a person in receipt of Jobseeker's Benefit may take up to two weeks' foreign holiday. A disqualification in respect of the increase for a qualified adult will be imposed in respect of any period in excess of 2 weeks. It is not necessary to complete a UP30 in respect of a qualified adult.

International Sporting Events

The disqualification from payment does not apply in respect of any period during which a person is representing Ireland at an international sporting event in an amateur capacity.

There is no limit on the amount of time that a person may spend abroad engaged in such sporting activities, but only periods of actual competition are covered. Training abroad is not covered, except in respect of final preparation and acclimatisation immediately preceding the competition.

An international event in this context means a competition such as the Olympics, Special Olympics, Para-Olympics World or European competitions where the participants are formally representing their countries. Form UP 30 must be completed 2 weeks in advance.

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23. Are there any other benefits I can get in addition to JB/JA?

National Fuel Scheme

A National Fuel Allowance is payable for the duration of the fuel season to those receiving Jobseeker's Allowance for 15 months or more who live alone or only with a qualified dependant or other eligible recipients and who satisfy the conditions for the scheme.

Payment of the National Fuel Allowance is limited to one per household.

Payment of the allowance is limited to one per household.

Household Benefits and Free Travel

Household Benefits and Free Travel are not payable to those in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance or Jobseeker's Benefit.

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24. Can I get any help with my rent or mortgage payments?

The Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) scheme, which includes Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement, is administered on behalf of the Department of Social and Family Affairs by the Community Welfare Services division of the Health Service Executive. Applications can be made to the Community Welfare Officer at your local health centre.


25. Can I undertake voluntary work while I am on a jobseeker's payment?


26. What about my PRSI/social insurance record while I am unemployed?

Credited contributions are awarded for the duration of claims, subject to the conditions of being available for, capable of and genuinely seeking work being fulfilled.

In order to be awarded JB credits, a person must:

  • have at least one paid PRSI contribution at the appropriate class; and
  • have a paid or credited contribution in the last two complete contribution years. If not, 26 further paid contributions are required.

Credits are awarded for periods of registered unemployment, i.e., the person is signing for credits only, where they have no entitlement to JB/JA and are available for and capable of work.

Not everyone who is entitled to Jobseeker's Allowance will qualify for credits. Each case is examined by a Deciding Officer to determine whether the contribution conditions are fulfilled.

Qualification for JB credits after a break of two consecutive years

Where there is a break of two consecutive years in paid/credited contributions, at least 26 paid contributions are required to qualify for credits.


27. If I want to transfer my jobseeker's benefit to another country, what must I do?

Go into your Social Welfare Local Office or Branch Office and ask to have your payment transferred

A person in receipt of Irish JB for at least 4 weeks may transfer the JB claim to a country covered by EC Regulations (No. 883/2004) for up to 3 months (78 Days) if the person is looking for work.

You must register as a jobseeker with the social security authorities in the other country within 7 days of your departure from Ireland.

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28. Am I entitled to the Household Benefits package or Free Travel?

No. Household Benefits and Free Travel are not payable to those in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance or Jobseeker's Benefit.

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29. Where can I find out more about internship?

Information regarding JobBridge - The National Internship Scheme can be found at National Internship Scheme - JobBridge Scheme page. You check on internships available, or register you interest in providing an internship(s) at 'www.jobbridge.ie'

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30. What changes to the jobseeker's benefit payment week were announced in Budget 2012 and take effect from 26 July 2012?

View the Frequently Asked Questions in relation to the Changes to Jobseeker’s Benefit


Note:
The new Governing Contributions Year begins on the first Monday of each New Year. In 2012 the new Governing Contributions Year will be 2010 from 2nd January 2012

Last modified:04/09/2012
 

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