Benefits and Conscientious Objection: Restrictions on employment and workfare

Conscientious Objection (CO) has a long history, most notably with regards refusing a compulsory military service. The issue of CO under Article 4 of The European Convention on Human Rights was referred to in R (on the application of Reilly and another) (Respondents) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Appellant)  – [2013] WLR(D) 413, [2013] UKSC 68.

Letter to DWP: Your Conscientious Objection, Religion and Jobseekers Allowance

Mandatory Work Activity Provider Guidance – Incorporating Universal Credit (UC) Guidance [Version 7.01 of August 2013]
“Unsuitable types of activity
A1.8 Claimants must not be expected to engage in activities which could put them at risk, or are against their personal beliefs” [emphasis added]
https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/pg-part-p.pdf
Source: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/mandatory_work_activity_and_unpa#outgoing-308870

The Jobseeker’s Allowance Regulations 1996

“Additional restrictions on availability for certain groups
13.  (1)  In any week a person may restrict his availability for employment in the following ways, if the circumstances set out apply.
(2) Subject to regulations 6, 7 and 9, a person may impose restrictions on the nature of the employment for which he is available by reason of a sincerely held religious belief, or a sincerely held conscientious objection providing he can show that he has reasonable prospects of employment notwithstanding those restrictions…
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1996/207/regulation/13/made

DWP Decision Makers guidance  on CO states:
(of August 2013)

Religious beliefs and conscientious objections  

21451      Claimants can place restrictions   on the nature of the employment that they are
available for because of a sincerely  held

Vol 4 Amendment 34 July 2011

1.       religious belief or

2.       conscientious objection

if they can show that they have reasonable prospects of obtaining employment with [1]        those restrictions .
[1] JSA Regs, reg 13(2)

Example 1

Claimants may restrict their availability to exclude the Sabbath due to their religious
beliefs if those beliefs are sincerely  held.

They are available if they can show that they have reasonable prospects of
obtaining employment with that restriction.

Example 2

Claimants who have a conscientious objection against live animal exports, may
restrict the type of employment that they  are available for to exclude

1.       types of employment or
2.       companies

that are associated with live animal exports. They  are available if they can show that
they have reasonable prospects of obtaining employment with that restriction.

21452

Religious beliefs, conscientious objections and other restrictions

21453   If claimants place restrictions on their availability

1.       some of which are connected to their religious beliefs or conscientious
objections under DMG  21451 and

2.       some of which are not connected to those beliefs or objections   they must show that they have reasonable prospects  of obtaining employment with [1] all of their restrictions .
[1] reg 8 & 13(2)

Example

A woman has a conscientious objection against live animal exports.

She will not work in any type of employment or for any company that is connected to
live animal exports.

She also says that she will only work in one location. This restriction is not
connected to her conscientious objection.

Vol 4 Amendment 32 October 2010

The DM should determine whether she has reasonable prospects of obtaining
employment with the restrictions on the

1.    type of employment she will accept and

2.    companies she will work for and

3.    location that she is willing to work in.
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/251787/dmg-vol4-consolidated-version.pdf
Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/decision-makers-guide-vols-4-5-6-and-7-jobseekers-allowance-and-income-support-staff-guide

Related:

“10.Religion or belief
(1)Religion means any religion and a reference to religion includes a reference to a lack of religion.
(2) Belief means any religious or philosophical belief and a reference to belief includes a reference to a lack of belief.
(3) In relation to the protected characteristic of religion or belief—
(a) a reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic is a reference to a person of a particular religion or belief;
(b) a reference to persons who share a protected characteristic is a reference to persons who are of the same religion or belief.”
Equality Act 2010 – Chapter 1 Protected characteristics

“Article 18.    Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
Universal Declaration of Human Rights – 10 December 1948

Notes: Welfare rights law and DWP guidance, in particular, changes frequently. You may find more recent information via http://refuted.org.uk/category/ or by using the website search facility (top right)

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