Work hours rules

Work hours rules

This question determines eligibility for Working Tax Credit. It is also used to work out whether you have any income from earnings, which are treated more generously than other kinds of income when calculating benefits, and whether your work hours are too high for Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance. There are no work hours rules for Universal Credit as it is one benefit whether you are in or out of work.

'Work' is defined as carrying out qualifying remunerative work.

Currently on statutory leave

When you are employed but currently on leave from work for sickness, maternity, paternity or adoption, as long as you are not claiming Universal Credit, you may have a choice of benefits to claim, in-work or out-of-work, depending on your financial and household circumstances. 

If you are claiming Universal Credit you should always enter your current work hours.

If you are not claiming Universal Credit you can choose whether to enter the number of hours you were working immediately before going on leave, to see if you are entitled to Working Tax Credit, or your current work hours, in most cases this will be 0, and see your out of work benefit entitlement.

The out of work route may be beneficial if you have a mortgage as the main out of work benefits can include help toward mortgage interest (in the form of a loan from April 2018). You should consider doing two calculations and comparing your results to see which is the better option for you. 

Working Tax Credit

Working Tax Credit can only be claimed by people who are working (or who have recently been working and are claiming Statutory Sick Pay or Statutory Maternity/Paternity/Adoption pay).

You can claim Working Tax Credit if you meet the age and work hours rules. For more information see Working Tax Credit.

The calculator estimates your entitlement to tax credits on the basis that if you are in work you remain in it for the remainder of the tax year.

You can make a claim for Working Tax Credit providing you have accepted an offer of a job and that job is due to start within the next seven days. The work must be expected to last for at least four weeks from the time of making the claim.

If you work 30 hours a week or more a bonus is payable in Working Tax Credit. In couples it is your combined work hours that are counted when working out your entitlement to this bonus.

What hours do you need to work to claim Working Tax Credit?

If you are not responsible for children, you need to work the following hours to get Working Tax Credit:

  • if you are aged 25 or over, you need to do paid work of at least 30 hours a week
  • if you have a disability and are 16 or over, you need to do paid work of at least 16 hours a week
  • if you are aged 60 or over, you need to do paid work of at least 16 hours a week

To qualify for working tax credit if you are part of a couple and you are responsible for children, you must work at least 24 hours a week between the two of you. This is in addition to the existing rule that either you or your partner must be working at least 16 hours a week. If only one of you work, then they must work at least 24 hours. But the new rule does not apply if:

  • the one who is working at least 16 hours a week is either a ‘disabled worker’ or is over 60 years old or
  • the other partner is in hospital; or in prison; or getting certain benefits due to sickness or disability, for example employment and support allowance or disability living allowance.

If you are a lone parent with dependent children you have to work for 16 hours a week to qualify for Working Tax Credit.

Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance

If you claim Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance you should normally either be not working or working on average less than 16 hours a week. Partners of people receiving Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance are able to work for, on average, up to 24 hours a week without their partner’s entitlement being affected.

However, in certain circumstances (carers, childminders, etc) you are able to work more than 16 hours (24 hours for partners) and still claim Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance. For more information see working 16 hours a week or more and claiming Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance.

Employment and Support Allowance

You may be able to work up to 16 hours a week without your entitlement being affected under permitted work rules.


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