Jobseeker's Benefit and work
One of the conditions for getting Jobseeker’s Benefit is that you must be unemployed. However, you do not have to be totally unemployed – you must have had a substantial loss of employment and be unemployed for at least 4 days out of the 7-day employment week. Your earnings must also have reduced because of the loss of employment.
You must also be available for and actively seeking work and you must meet all the other conditions for Jobseeker’s Benefit. For example, you must have enough social insurance (PRSI) contributions.
You may work and get Jobseeker’s Benefit if:
- Your days at work are reduced due to lack of work (systematic short-time working)
- You are a part-time worker including job-sharing week on and week off (but not if you have chosen to do so)
- You get casual work or part-time work
- You have subsidiary employment
This document also looks at how taking up temporary work affects your Jobseeker’s Benefit.
Jobseeker’s Benefit is taxable in addition to any income from work. However, it is not taxable if you are getting it because your hours at work are temporarily reduced (systematic short-time working). Find out more about taxation of Jobseeker’s Benefit.
How work is assessed for Jobseeker's Benefit
1. If your days at work are reduced (temporarily) - systematic short-time
If you normally work full-time but short-time working is introduced by your employer you may get Jobseeker’s Benefit (JB). Reduced working hours on a temporary basis is called systematic short-time working. You will get JB for the days you don't work provided you meet the other conditions that apply to JB, for example, you cannot work more than 3 days per week. If you work 4 days you are no longer entitled to claim JB (because you must be unemployed for 4 out of 7 days).
For systematic short-time workers the social welfare week is based on 5 days. This means that days worked and days of unemployment added together cannot be more than 5. For example, if your days of work are reduced to 3 days per week, you will get JB for the other 2 days and you will use up 2 days of your total JB entitlement. This means you will get 2/5ths of the normal amount of Jobseeker's Benefit (see table below). In these circumstances if you are entitled to 234 days JB (9 months) you could, in theory, continue to claim JB for 117 weeks. However, the Department of Social Protection (DSP) will reassess a systematic short time worker’s JB claim if it goes on for an extended period. If the DSP decides that it is unlikely you will return to full-time work with that company in the short term, you will be reassessed as a part-time worker.
You can read a case study showing you how to calculate the length of time a short time worker can get Jobseeker's Benefit.
You will continue to pay PRSI in the normal way. However, Jobseeker’s Benefit is not taxable if you are a systematic short-time worker.
Jobseeker's Benefit for systematic short-time workers
|Number of days worked||Effective days of unemployment||Weekly payment for a single person||Weekly payment for a couple with 1 child under 12|
If you work 4 days you are no longer entitled to claim JB (because you must be unemployed for 4 out of 7 days).
If you are a part-time worker and your days of work are reduced temporarily you are not treated as a systematic short-time worker - you are treated as a part-time worker (see below). For example, if your working pattern is reduced from 3 days (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) to 2 days (Monday and Tuesday) per week, you will be paid Jobseeker's Benefit for 3 days once you satisfy all the conditions.
An employer may initially reduce your work days on a temporary basis, but if there is no prospect of returning to full-time work with that employer you will be reassessed as a part-time worker.
2. Part-time workers
Where a Jobseeker's Benefit recipient is working for part of a week, the amount of JB they are paid is based on a 5-day week. This means that for each day that a person is employed, 1/5th of the normal rate of Jobseeker's Benefit is deducted from their payment. If they get part-time work for 2 days, they will get 3/5ths of the normal Jobseeker's Benefit for that week and if they get part-time work for 3 days they will get 2/5ths of the normal rate of Jobseeker’s Benefit for the week (see table below).
You must still be unemployed for 4 days out of 7 to claim Jobseeker's Benefit.
Part-time workers must continue to look for full-time employment. Your Jobseeker's Benefit is taxable if you are working part time. You must claim Jobseeker's Benefit for at least 3 days in any week. If you get 4 days work, Jobseeker's Benefit is not paid at all.
Jobseeker's Benefit for part-time workers
|Days worked||Effective days of unemployment||Weekly payment for a single person||
Weekly payment for a couple with 1 child under 12
If you work 4 days you are no longer entitled to claim JB (because you must be unemployed for 4 out of 7 days).
Note: Jobseeker’s Benefit is paid for 234 days or 156 days depending on how many PRSI contributions you have paid. You are considered to be unemployed for 6 days out of the 7-day social welfare employment week. If you are fully unemployed you would use up your entitlement to Jobseeker’s Benefit after either 9 months (6 days of unemployment per week x 39 equals 234 days) or 6 months (6 days of unemployment per week x 26 equals 156 days). However if you are working part time your entitlement to Jobseeker’s Benefit may last longer. For example if you are entitled to 234 days JB (39 weeks) and you are working for 2 days a week and unemployed for the remaining 4 days you could continue to claim Jobseeker’s Benefit for 58.5 weeks. If you were working for 3 days a week you would use 3 days of your total JB entitlement and you could continue to claim JB for 78 weeks.
Job-sharing and week on/off
If you have been working full-time and then enter a job-sharing arrangement, you are not eligible for Jobseeker's Benefit because you have voluntarily opted to work fewer hours or days.
If you are working week on or off, your entitlement to Jobseeker's Benefit will depend on whether you are available for work on the week off.
In these types of situations, you need to be careful to ensure that you have a full PRSI record. Depending on your precise working arrangements, you could end up with only 26 paid contributions. However, if you are getting Jobseeker's Benefit, you will get a PRSI credit for the week you are not working.
3. Casual work or part-time work
You may get Jobseeker’s Benefit if you can only get part-time or casual work. You must be unemployed for at least 4 days out of a period of 7 consecutive days and continue to look for full-time employment.
For each day you are employed, 1/5th of the normal rate of Jobseeker's Benefit is deducted from your weekly payment, provided that you are unemployed for at least 4 days out of a period of 7 consecutive days. For example, if you get casual work for 2 days, you can get 3/5ths of the normal Jobseeker's Benefit for that week.
You must claim Jobseeker's Benefit for at least 3 days in any week. If you get 4 days work, Jobseeker's Benefit is not paid at all.
Normally you cannot get Jobseeker's Benefit for a day on which you do casual or part-time work, unless, it comes within the subsidiary work rules (see below).
4. Subsidiary employment
As a general rule, you will not get Jobseeker's Benefit for any day you are employed or self-employed. However, it is possible to do some subsidiary work and still get Jobseeker's Benefit for the day in question.
Subsidiary work is work that could have been done while you were in full-time employment and outside your normal working hours. For example, you may work a full-time job during the day and have a part-time job in the evening. The part-time job is known as subsidiary or secondary employment if you were able to do the part-time work without it affecting your full-time job for a period of at least 6 months.
If you have subsidiary employment, you should always check with the Department of Social Protection to see whether or not your Jobseeker's Benefit will be affected.
If you have less than 117 paid PRSI contributions in the 3 years before becoming unemployed, you may not earn more than €144 per week (€7,500 over 12 months) from subsidiary employment. There is no earnings limit if you have more than 117 paid PRSI contributions.
If you are a farmer with other full-time employment, your farming will be your subsidiary employment.
Sunday work and jobseeker's payments
Sunday working is taken into account for Jobseeker's Benefit. You must be unemployed for 4 out of 7 consecutive days (including Sunday). If you work on Sunday you are considered to be employed for 1 day and 1/5th of your normal rate of Jobseeker's Benefit will be deducted from your weekly payment.
Even though the social welfare employment week now takes Sunday into account you are not considered unemployed for 7 days. You are considered to be unemployed for 6 days out of the 7-day social welfare employment week. This means that for each week that you are fully unemployed 6 days are deducted from the days remaining on your Jobseeker's Benefit claim.
In the same way a person who works 2 days a week would have 4 days deducted from the days remaining on their JB claim.
Your employer must pay you for the public holidays which you don’t work as long as you have worked at least 40 hours in the 5 weeks immediately before the week of the public holiday. You can find more information in our document on public holidays.
If you work and get Jobseeker's Benefit, you get a daily rate of Jobseeker's Benefit for the days that you don't work. You will not get Jobseeker’s Benefit for the day you receive payment from your employer for a public holiday but you can continue to get Jobseeker’s Benefit for the other days you do not work.
If you are getting Jobseeker's Benefit and are offered temporary work for at least 4 days each week your Jobseeker's Benefit will stop. If you are unemployed for a second time within 26 weeks your application for Jobseeker's Benefit is not treated as a new claim.
Susan is unemployed and has been getting Jobseeker's Benefit for 8 months. She has 260 paid PRSI contributions, which means she can get Jobseeker's Benefit for a maximum of 9 months. She was offered 2 months temporary work in a factory. When her 2-months work ends she is entitled to claim Jobseeker's Benefit for another month.
However, if you have used up your entitlement to Jobseeker's Benefit, you may re-qualify by working and paying the appropriate PRSI contributions for at least 13 weeks.
Short-term employment or training
The Department of Social Protection also operates a fast-tracking system for customers who sign off for a short period of up to 12 weeks to take up work or to go on a training course. This ensures that payment is re-instated without delay. It is important that you inform your local office in advance that you are taking up work or training.
Civil partner, spouse or cohabitant working and Jobseeker’s Benefit
Your Jobseeker's Benefit is not affected by your spouse’s, civil partner’s or cohabitant's income. However their income can affect whether you get an increase in your Jobseeker's Benefit payment for him or her as a qualified adult. The increase in your payment for an adult dependant is called an Increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA). If your adult dependant is earning €100 or less you will get the maximum IQA. If he or she is earning between €100 and €310 you will get a reduced rate of IQA. If your adult dependant is earning more than €310 you will not get an IQA for your adult dependant.
How your spouse’s, civil partner’s or cohabitant's income is assessed
Your spouse’s, civil partner’s or cohabitant's income from all sources is added together to find out if you qualify for an increase in your Jobseeker’s Benefit.
Income from work
Employment: Your spouse’s, civil partner’s or cohabitant's average weekly income from employment is assessed. The gross weekly income is assessed and no deductions are allowed for tax, PRSI contributions or personal expenses. If your spouse's, civil partner's or cohabitant's income is paid monthly, the weekly average over the previous two months is calculated. If he or she is paid weekly or fortnightly, the weekly average over the previous 6 weeks is used. Note that your partner can get Working Family Payment (WFP) while you are getting Jobseeker's Benefit.
Self-employment: To calculate earnings from self-employment the income received in the last completed tax year is divided by 52 to get the average weekly income. Earnings are assessed as gross income less allowable expenses over 12 months. Annual earnings from self-employment are divided by 52 to find your weekly means from self-employment. Any ‘drawings’ you take from the business is not an allowable expense.
Income from capital
Income from capital, for example, property, savings and investments, is included in the mean test. Where capital is held jointly, half of the value is assessed as belonging to your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant. You can find out more about how capital is assessed in the means test.
Income from other sources
Income from other sources includes rental income from the letting of property, income from an occupational pension, foreign social welfare payments, income from a trust fund, income under a deed of covenant and other cash income. It is calculated on a weekly basis.
The following social welfare payments are not taken into account as income:
- Disablement Benefit
- Occupational Injuries Death Benefit in respect of an Orphan
- Guardian's Payment (Contributory)
- Guardian's Payment (Non-Contributory)
- Child Benefit
- Domiciliary Care Allowance
- Supplementary Welfare Allowance
How to apply
If your working hours are reduced to 3 days or less per week you can apply for Short Time Work Support under the Jobseeker’s Benefit scheme.
To apply you must fill in an application form for Jobseeker's Benefit and an application form for Short Time Work Support (pdf).
You can get forms posted to you by emailing your request with your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also apply at your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.