HC Deb 04 February 1997 vol 289 c579W
Mr. Beggs

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if classroom assistants employed in schools during the term times only are eligible for unemployment benefit when schools close. [13861]

Mr. Roger Evans

Jobseeker's allowance replaced unemployment benefit as the main benefit for the unemployed as from 7 October 1996.

Jobseeker's allowance is not payable to people who work for, on average, 16 hours a week or more—24 hours or more in the case of partners of people receiving income-based jobseeker's allowance. For people whose working pattern is such that, either they do not work every week or they work a different number of hours each week, the average hours worked are normally calculated with reference to their usual pattern of work.

For school ancillary workers, such as classroom assistants, who have continuing contracts of employment, school holidays, when the person does no work, are not included in the average calculation. The effect of excluding school holidays from the averaging calculation normally means that school ancillary workers are working for more than 16 hours a week on average and therefore not entitled to jobseeker's allowance. They can, however, claim family credit, subject to their satisfying the normal conditions for entitlement.

School ancillary workers whose employment terminates at the end of each term and who therefore become unemployed are not affected by the averaging rules. Eligibility to jobseeker's allowance in these circumstances will depend on their satisfying the normal conditions of entitlement, for example available for and actively seeking work.