Labour Market regimes
A claimant and their partner, if applicable, are both allocated to a regime independently based on their own individual circumstances. This means that members of a couple may be allocated to different regimes. If a claimant’s circumstances mean that they fall into more than one regime, the regime with the lowest conditionality is applied. A claimant’s regime is re-assessed and updated each time a change of circumstances is reported.
The alignment of the 4 conditionality groups and 6 Labour Market regimes is described in the following table:

All work-related requirements regime - light touch

If you are in the ‘all work-related requirement group’ and you earn your Administrative Earnings Threshold (AET), you will have no mandatory work-related requirements - including work search.

  • The AET for a single person is £677.00 per assessment period

  • The AET for a joint claim is £1083.00 per assessment period

PLEASE NOTE: that unearned income and self-employed earnings cannot be used towards the AET. It is only earnings paid by an employer and is reviewed each assessment period.

This means that if you have earnings on your claim that meet the AET your commitments should not include any work search and you should not be asked to agree to be 'willing and able' to take up more paid work.

Your Claimant Commitment

When you claim Universal Credit, you will need to accept your Claimant Commitment.

In most cases your Claimant Commitment will be drawn up with your work coach from your local jobcentre.

Your Claimant Commitment will set out what you have agreed to do to prepare for and look for work, or to increase your earnings if you are already working. It will be based on your personal circumstances and will be reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis. Each time it is updated, you will need to accept a new Claimant Commitment to keep receiving Universal Credit.

The Claimant Commitment is your record of the responsibilities that you have accepted in return for receiving Universal Credit, and the consequences of not meeting them.

Your Universal Credit payments may be cut if you don't meet your responsibilities.


During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, you will not get a sanction if you cannot keep to your Claimant Commitment.


You can view your latest Claimant Commitment online. You will also be able to update your progress on your goals using that account.

If you claim Universal Credit as a couple, both of you will need to accept a Claimant Commitment. You will each have your own Claimant Commitment, and yours may be affected if your partner starts work or their circumstances change.

Your responsibilities


You'll make an agreement called a 'Claimant Commitment' with your work coach.

What you need to do depends on your situation. You might need to do activities such as:

write a CV
look and apply for jobs

go on training courses

You'll also need to do things like:

pay your own rent and other housing costs

report any changes in your circumstances

If you're claiming with your partner, you'll each have a Claimant Commitment and set of responsibilities.

If you have children

If you're a single parent or the lead carer in a couple, your responsibilities will change as your youngest child gets older and will be tailored to your personal circumstances.


I'm working

You won't be expected to do any activities at the Jobcentre if you are working and earning more per month than someone would earn working at minimum wage for the number of hours you are expected to work. This is called your 'earnings threshold'.


Donna is 29. Her son is aged 3, so she would be expected to work 16 hours a week. Because of her age, the minimum wage rate is £9.50 per hour. This means Donna's earnings threshold is 16 x £9.50 = £152 per week or £ 658.66 per month. Donna works 11 hours per week and earns £ 15 per hour (£165.00 per week), so she is earning more than her earnings threshold and won't have to do any activities at the Jobcentre.

If you are self employed

If you are self-employed, the earnings threshold won't apply to you. You won't be expected to do any activities at the Jobcentre or to look for work. However, you might be affected by the minimum income floor, which is also calculated based on what your claimant commitment would have been if you weren't self-employed.

Earning less than your earnings threshold

If you are working but are earning less than your earnings threshold, you might be expected to do some activities at the Jobcentre. As long as you are earning more than £355.00 per month (if you are single) or £567.00 per month joint income (if you are a member of a couple), you won't be expected to look for work or be available for work. However, you might be asked to take part in activities to increase your chances of getting a job.

If you are working but are earning less than £355 per month (if you are single) or £567 per month joint income (if you are a member of a couple), you will be expected to look for more work and be available for work.

I'm about Pension age

If you are over Pension age, you won't be expected to take part in any activity at the Jobcentre and you won't be expected to look for work.

None of these apply to me

If none of these situations apply to you, you are likely to be put in the 'all work-related activities' group. You will be expected to spend 35 hours per week looking for work and will usually be expected to be available for work of up to 48 hours per week. 

If you have recently experienced domestic violence, bereavement or have some other good reason why you can't do what your work coach expects you to do, you should tell your work coach. If you don't feel your claimant commitment takes your needs into account, you should get advice.

Several of these apply to me

If several of the situations apply to you, you will be placed in the lowest activity group you satisfy. You should look at the claimant commitment rules for situations you fall into.


For example, Jack is working, has a disability, and has a 1-year-old daughter. Jack earns £ 200 per month from work, so on this basis Jack would be expected to look for work. Jack's disability means he has limited capacity for work, so on this basis he would be expected to do work preparation. Jack is the main carer for his daughter, so on this basis Jack would be expected to take part in work focused interviews. Work focused interviews are the lowest activity group Jack satisfies, so he will only have to take part in work focused interviews, and he will not have to do work preparation or look for work. 

If you get support with childcare costs

You must:

report your childcare costs when you pay them

prove you've paid your childcare provider

You'll need to show proof of:

your childcare provider for each child, for example an invoice or contract that includes the provider's registration number and full contact details

the amount you paid and when you paid it, for example a receipt or bank statement

You can report childcare costs and provide proof that you've paid by signing in to your Universal Credit account . 

You'll usually get the childcare amount in your next Universal Credit payment.

If you pay for childcare after it's been provided, you can claim up to 3 months of past costs at a time. There may be a limit to how much you get back if you claim for more than one month's fees at a time. Talk to your work coach for advice.

If you pay for childcare in advance, you can claim up to 3 months of advance costs at a time. You'll be paid back in your monthly Universal Credit payments during the months the childcare is for.

If your payment is stopped or reduced

If you do not meet your responsibilities or what you've agreed in your Claimant Commitment, your Universal Credit could be stopped or reduced. This is called a sanction.


During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, you will not get a sanction if you cannot keep to your Claimant Commitment.


There are different levels of sanctions and they're decided based on what you did and how often.

You'll get half a sanction if you apply with a partner and only one of you does not meet their responsibilities.

You can appeal a sanction if you think it's wrong. Citizens Advice can help with challenging a sanction.    

Help if your payment is stopped or reduced

You can ask for a hardship payment if you cannot pay for rent, heating, food or hygiene needs because you got a sanction. You'll repay it through your Universal Credit payments - they'll be lower until you pay it back.

You must be 18 or over.

You'll have to show that you've tried to:

find the money from somewhere else

only spend money on essentials

Call the Universal Credit helpline  to ask for a hardship payment.

Tailored to your situation

Universal Credit changes as things change in your life. Your responsibilities will vary depending on such things as your family, your health and your potential for future earnings.

For example:

If you care for a severely disabled person for at least 35 hours a week you will not be required to work.

If you make a Universal Credit claim and have children, you will need to nominate a lead carer. If you are a lone parent, you will automatically be the lead carer.

What is expected of the lead carer in return for getting Universal Credit will be based on the age of the youngest child in the household.

Support from your work coach

With Universal Credit, you will experience a different type of relationship with your work coach than you may have expected. They will focus on mentoring and coaching you, to help you meet the requirements recorded in your Claimant Commitment.

They will support and challenge you to fulfil your potential and help you to raise your expectations of what you can achieve.

If you can look or prepare for work, your Claimant Commitment will include things like your job goals, regular work search activity, or any work preparation actions that you must complete to receive Universal Credit.

Work search activity could involve registering with 'Find a job' or a recruitment agency or applying for suggested vacancies.  

Work preparation activity could include preparing a CV or attending and completing a training course. You could also be expected to attend regular interviews to discuss progress.

You should think of job seeking as a full-time job. You will be expected to look or prepare for work for 35 hours a week, depending on your circumstances.

Not meeting your responsibilities

Your commitments will clearly state what will happen if you fail to meet each of your responsibilities. You may receive a reduction in your benefit, known as a sanction, if you fail to meet one of your responsibilities and can't give a good reason to explain why.

How long sanctions last depends on what you failed to do and how many times you failed to meet your responsibilities, without good reason.


During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, you will not get a sanction if you cannot keep to your Claimant Commitment.