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Work-Focused Interviews

All ESA claimants who are put into the work-related activity group will be required to attend a series of six work-focused interviews with a personal adviser.

The purpose of these interviews is to draw up and implement an action plan with a view to getting you back to work.

Regulations specify the following information is to be provided:

  1. Your educational qualifications and vocational training;
  2. Your work history;
  3. Your aspirations for future work;
  4. Your skills that are relevant to work;
  5. Your work-related abilities;
  6. Your caring or childcare responsibilities;
  7. Any paid or unpaid work that you are undertaking.
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At interview you will be expected to discuss the following:

  1. Any activity that you are willing to undertake which may make obtaining or remaining in work more likely;
  2. Any such activity that you may have previously undertaken;
  3. Any progress that you may have made towards remaining in or obtaining work;
  4. Any work-focused health-related assessment that you may have taken part in;
  5. Your opinion as to the extent to which the ability to remain in or obtain work is restricted by your physical or mental condition.

Failure to attend or participate in these interviews could result in your benefit being sanctioned.

Sanctions will be applied if you fail to attend the work focused health related assessment (WFHRA) or any of the work focused interviews (WFI) as part of the Employment and Support Allowance assessment process.

For the first four weeks of non-attendance the work-related activity component of your benefit will be reduced by 50%, after the first four weeks this compponent will be completely removed until you do actually attend. Once you do attend the payment will be restored to you but this will not be backdated.

Work focused health related assessment sanctions (WFHRA)

A WFHRA is an assessment carried out by a health care professional to assess:
  1. The extent to which you still have capability for work.
  2. The estent to which your ability may be improved by taking steps in relation to your physical or mental condition.
  3. Difficulties which you are likely to have as a result of your pysical and mental condition in obtaining or remaining in work and how these may be managed or alleviated,
  4. Your views on the impact of your physical or mental condition in relation to obtaining or remaining in work and any hopes you have in relation to work in light of that condition.

You should be given written notice of the WFHRA at least 7 days before you are due to attend.

A WHFRA will normally be carried out in a medical examination centre unless it is thought that attending such a centre would cause you undue inconvenience or would endanger your health. If this is the case then the assessment may be done at your home.

You will not be required to undergo a WFHRA if you have already been assessed as having limited capability for work. If you fail to attend you will be given notice of this failure by the DWP. You then have 5 working days to show that there was good cause for your non- attendance. The ESA Regulations specify that the following matters must be taken into account when deciding whether you have show good cause.

  1. Whether you were outside Great Britain at the time of notification.
  2. Your state of health at the time of the WFHRA.
  3. The nature of any disability that you have.
  4. Anoother matter that the DWP considers to be appropriate.

Sanctions and the work-focused interview

ESA applicants who have been placed in the work-related activity group will be required to participate in a series of 5 work-focused interviews with a personal advisor.

The purposes of a work-focused interview (WFI) are defined as:
  1. Assessing your prospects for remaining in or obtaining work.
  2. Assisting or encouraging you to remain in or obtain work.
  3. Identifying activities that you may undertake that will make remaining in or obtaining work more likely.
  4. Identifying training, educational or rehabilitation opportunities for you which may make it more likely that you will remain in or obtain work or be able to do so.
  5. Identifying current or future work opportunities, including self-employment opportunities, for you that are relevant to your needs and abilities.

A WFI can take place in your home if it can be shown that attending anywhere else would cause you undue inconvenience or endanger your health. A WFI may be deferred if it can be shown that an interview at that time would not be of assistance to you or appropriate in the circumstance.

Disability Alliance lists the following as circumstances where it might be inappropriate to attend a WFI:

  1. A worsened fluctuating health condition.
  2. A period in hospital.
  3. Inability to attend because of an illness.
  4. Transport problems on the day.
  5. Recent bereavement.
  6. Caring responsibilities for someone severely disabled or terminally ill.
  7. You are in the late stages of pregnancy.

If you fail to attend a WFI then you will be given notice of this by the DWP. You then have 5 working days to show good cause for that failure. The ESA regulations specify the following matters which may be taken into account in deciding whether you had good cause not to attend:

  1. You misunderstood the requirement to take part in the WFI due to learning, language or literacy difficulties or any misleading information sent by the DWP.
  2. You had transport difficulties and that no reasonable alternative was available.
  3. You were attending an interview with an employer to remain in or obtain work.
  4. You were pursuing employment opportunities as a self-employed earner.
  5. You were attending a medical or dental appointment and that it would have been unreasonable in the circumstances to re-arrange the appointment.
  6. You were accompnying another person for whom you have caring responsibilities to a medical or dental appointment and it would have been unreasonable for that other person to re-arrange the appointment.
  7. You or a dependant or another person for who you provide care suffered an accident, sudden illness or relapse of a physical or mental condition.
  8. You were attending a funeral of a relative or friend on the day of the work-focused interview.
  9. That your physical or mental condition made it impossible to attend at the time and place fixed for the interview.
  10. That the established customs and practices of your religion prevented attendance on that day or at that time.
  11. Any other matter which the DWP considers appropriate to take into account.
If the DWP do decide to impose sanctions then you have the right to ask for that decision to be revised or superseded. You can also appeal against the decision to an independent Appeal Tribunal. Please see the appeals factsheet for information.
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