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Neutral Citation Number: 2009 UKUT 177 AAC
Reported Number:
File Number: CJSA 3705 2008
Appellant: HS
Respondent: Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Judge/Commissioner: Judge C. Turnbull
Date Of Decision: 15/09/2009
Date Added: 13/10/2009
Main Category: Jobseekers allowance
Main Subcategory: availability for employment
Secondary Category: Jobseekers allowance
Secondary Subcategory: other
Notes: Reported as [2010} AACR 10 Availability for work – jobseeker’s agreement – claimant refusing to apply for work of a type she did not agree to “look for” – whether availability restricted to that kind of work – whether good cause for refusing to apply for other types of work The claimant had an NVQ2 in administration/office work and RSA typing skills and her employment before claiming jobseeker’s allowance had been as a clerical assistant. After she had been in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance for just over a year, she signed a standard form jobseeker’s agreement, in which she stated in the box “types of job I am looking for” that she was looking for types of clerical work. The only restrictions on availability mentioned in the agreement related to days and hours and locality. After four months the Jobcentre notified her of a job as a checkout operator. She refused to apply for the job and the Secretary of State imposed a sanction of 18 weeks’ non-payment of benefit under section 19(6)(c) of the Jobseekers Act 1995 on the ground that she had failed without good cause to apply for a vacancy notified to her. The claimant appealed, contending that in her jobseeker’s agreement she had agreed to look for clerical positions and that agreement had not been varied, and that work as a checkout operator would cause her stress. The Secretary of State submitted that the statement as to the “types of job I am looking for” was not a restriction as to availability, and that any such restriction would have been noted in the box “other agreed restrictions on my availability”. The tribunal reduced the sanction period to six weeks, but concluded that the Secretary of State had the power to require a claimant to apply for a vacancy outside of the restrictions imposed in the jobseeker’s agreement and that the claimant did not have good cause for not applying for the vacancy. The claimant appealed to the Upper Tribunal. Held, dismissing the appeal, that: 1. the issue whether the claimant had restricted her availability for employment to the types of job which she was stated in the jobseeker’s agreement to be “looking for” was one of construction of the agreement, against the background of the relevant statutory provisions (paragraph 19); 2. while it was arguable that the claimant was reasonably entitled to read the agreement as meaning that she was restricting her availability to work of the types she had agreed to seek, the meaning of the agreement, read as a whole, was not that she was restricting her availability to those types of job, but rather that those were the types of job which she agreed to look for in pursuance of her obligation actively to seek work (paragraphs 20 to 24); 3. although it is clear from section 19(1) of the 1995 Act and regulation 72(2) of the Jobseeker’s Allowance Regulations 1996 that the fact that a claimant has restricted his availability to work of a particular type does not necessarily mean that he has good cause for refusing to apply for a vacancy of a different type, that is likely to be a very significant factor to be taken into account in determining good cause, at any rate where there is a significant disparity between the nature of the vacancy and the type of employment for which the claimant is required to be available (paragraphs 25 and 26); 4. however, the nature of the employment which a claimant has agreed to “look for” is not even listed in regulation 72(2) as a factor which must be taken into account in determining good cause, and while it is permissible to take it into account, it was clear that the tribunal did so, and there was no error of law in its approach (paragraph 27).
Decision(s) to Download: [2010] AACR 10 bv.doc [2010] AACR 10 bv.doc