By Pat Hutchinson MBE, District Manager, Citizens Advice Newtownabbey
Q: I am 25. I was working full-time but I have been dismissed from work for gross misconduct. I am appealing against the decision, but in the meantime I am worried that this will affect my claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance. What are my rights? I do not have any other income.
A: If you have been dismissed from your job it will affect the benefits you claim. You may be able to get contribution-based or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit, but there are special rules about how these will be paid following your dismissal.
You will not usually be able to claim Income Support following a dismissal as you will have to be available for work. However, check to see if you or your partner could qualify.
If you were dismissed for misconduct, contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance may not be paid for 13 weeks and in some cases for longer. Misconduct means that, in your employer’s opinion, you did something wrong. You can appeal against the 13-week sanction, you will have one month to do so from the date on the decision letter.
You may be able to claim a hardship payment. A hardship payment is a reduced amount of Jobseeker’s Allowance which you may be able to get if you have been refused JSA.
If your appeal leads to an unfair dismissal compensation award it may cover a period in which you have been getting JSA. If this happens, the JSA may have to be paid back out of the compensation money. If compensation has already been paid when you claim JSA, it may prevent you receiving it for a period.
The rules about Jobseeker’s Allowance and payments at the end of a job are complicated. You should consult an experienced adviser at a Citizens Advice Bureau.
Housing Benefit: When working out entitlement to Housing Benefit, most final payments when you leave work are disregarded unless you’re already getting Housing Benefit when you are dismissed.
• Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice – go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk/nireland or call at: Citizens Advice Newtownabbey, Dunanney Centre, Rathmullan Drive, Rathcoole, Newtownabbey, BT37 9DQ. Telephone advice is available 9am – 4pm each day on 028 90852271 (Lunch 1:00 - 1:30pm). Email advice is available by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org