Skip to content

'Permitted Work' - working while claiming Employment and Support Allowance

You may be able to do some limited work while claiming Employment and Support Allowance. This is called 'Permitted Work'.

About Permitted Work

Generally, you are not allowed to work while you are getting Employment and Support Allowance because of an illness or disability.

You may be able to do some types of work and within certain limits. This is called 'Permitted Work' and it allows you to test your own capacity for doing some work and perhaps gain new skills.

You must check that the work you want to do is allowed under the Permitted Work rules. You should discuss this with your Employment Service Adviser in your local Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office.

Alternatively you can contact the Permitted Work Team on:

  • 028 9560 5014 (for Northern Ireland customers only)

You do not need approval from your doctor or have to have a medical assessment just because you are doing Permitted Work. If a medical assessment is due as part of your ongoing benefits-related review, it will go ahead as planned.

Permitted Work is a benefit arrangement - employers do not offer 'permitted work'.

The Permitted Work rules

Under the Permitted Work rules you can:

  • work for less than 16 hours a week on average, with earnings up to £101.00 a week for 52 weeks
  • work for less than 16 hours a week, on average, with earnings up to £101.00 a week if you are in the Support Group of the main phase of Employment and Support Allowance
  • work and earn up to £20 a week, at any time, for as long as you are receiving Employment and Support Allowance
  • do Supported Permitted Work and earn up to £101.00 a week for as long as you are receiving Employment and Support Allowance, provided you continue to satisfy the Supported Permitted Work criteria

Supported Permitted Work means work that is supervised by someone who is employed by a public or local authority or a voluntary organisation, and whose job it is to arrange work for people with disabilities. This could be work done in the community or in a sheltered workshop. It also includes work as part of a hospital treatment programme.

Income Tax

If you start Permitted Work, you may be liable to pay tax on your extra income. You must notify HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as soon as you start work.

  • Income Tax

Effect on other benefits

If you get Housing Benefit or Rates Relief and you do Permitted Work, any earnings over £20 may be taken into account when assessing these benefits.

Your Employment Service Adviser can give you more information about Permitted Work.

More useful links