Can I volunteer if I am claiming state benefits?
People are allowed to volunteer while claiming state benefits, including means-tested benefits such as jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), incapacity benefit, income support, and employment and support allowance (ESA).
You can volunteer as many hours as you like while you’re getting benefits as long as you keep to the rules for getting them.
Does volunteering count as taking ‘reasonable action’ to find a job?
Yes, it can count towards up to 50% of the time you are expected to be looking for a job.*
This means that:
- If you are required to spend 35 hours a week looking for a full-time job, half of this time (17.5 hours) can be spent volunteering.
- If you only volunteer five hours a week, then you will be required to spend 30 hours looking for work.
- If you are looking for part-time work, eg: 16 hours a week, you can volunteer for up to eight hours and spend the rest of the time looking for work.
- *This will not apply to you if you are in the no requirements, work-focussed interview or work preparation category.