Home > Ask Our Experts > Freelancer: Can I Qualify for Unemployment Benefit?

Freelancer: Can I Qualify for Unemployment Benefit?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 20 Jun 2020 | comments*Discuss
Freelance Unemployment Benefits


I have been working as a freelance architect over the past 3 years, classified as self employed, but have been unable to get another freelance position.

What do I need to do to qualify for unemployment benefit? Also, if I have savings would this affect me?

(Ms George Clark, 15 September 2008)


As you are unemployed, you may be entitled to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance. There are two elements to this. The ‘contributory’ Jobseeker’s Allowance is based upon your National Insurance contributions and credits over recent years and this lasts for 6 months. However, as you have been self-employed for the past 3 years, entitlement to this requires the recent payment of Class 1 National Insurance contributions and as those who are self-employed pay Class 2 contributions, it’s unlikely that you would qualify for contributions-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.

However, you could be eligible to claim income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. This is an income-related (means-tested) benefit and the amount you may be entitled to receive will depend upon the number and ages of any dependants and any income which is available to you and your family, including savings.

When it comes to savings, if they exceed £16,000, you will not be entitled to income-based jobseeker’s allowance until they fall below that threshold. If you do qualify, however, you will be entitled to receive this benefit for as long as it’s needed, providing that the qualifying conditions continue to be met.

As its name would suggest, in order to receive Jobseeker’s Allowance, you must be available for work and be prepared to actively seek work. You’ll also be required to keep records of your search for work as evidence and might be asked to produce this periodically.

Naturally, should you decide at some point to resume your self-employment status, you’ll need to inform your local JobCentre Plus.

To find out more, you should telephone your local JobCentre Plus and make an appointment to see one of their advisors. It’s important to do this straight away because as soon as you have registered with them, any entitlement to benefit will be backdated to the day you inform them, so even if you have to wait a week or two for an appointment, your claim will be backdated to the day you booked the appointment. In addition to Jobseeker’s Allowance, the advisor will also be able to help you in your quest to get back into employment, and they will also be able to tell you about any other state benefits you might also be entitled to.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
I have been put on reduced hours for the last 3 mouth. I have been told only to work one particular job. in the hours I do. It has come to my attention that 2 freelancer have been brought in to cover work I could have done if I had stayed on full time. Can my company do this? What are my rights here?
Phil - 20-Jun-20 @ 12:15 PM
I am one of a team of teaching assistants that have been told our hours may be reduced from April 2020. We have also learned that management may be employing 2 unqualified people as extra staff. Can they do this?
Dawn - 24-Sep-19 @ 4:36 PM
My employer gave me extra hours as they couldn’t find any one to take a ten hour a week job. This was split between me and my colleague of twenty hours per month each. This was over a year ago, now they are saying we are having the ten hours taken off each of us to hire a new person to give it to them. We are and have been doing all the overtime that has been needed to fill , can they do this, we are not prepared to give up these extra hours.
Sue - 23-May-19 @ 7:19 PM
My wife has been tuped over to another cleaning company after 27 years.Her working week has been 20 hours ,the new company want to half this to 10 hrs.Can they do this under the TUPE laws. She joined them October 2016 now they want to do this
mk5 7dt - 9-Feb-17 @ 12:45 PM
Hello, I need some advise in regards of resigning my job and whether I am entitled to receive JSA? I have been in my job for over 8 years, can't work up the career ladder and have been told by my management many times, that it is time for me to leave if I am unhappy and feeling stuck in my job. My question is if I hand in my resignation, would I be able to receive JSA until I find another job? I have read different information on this and hence confused and in need of some advise. Thanks a lot!
Angel - 26-Mar-16 @ 9:11 PM
Need some advice please.Have a friend from overseas on Working Visa.She has a job as a waitress , casual contract. On her roster, if for example it says 4pm till 10pm...on a couple of occasions they have sent her home after only 2 hours. Is the employer legally obliged to have her stay longer?????
Linda - 23-Dec-15 @ 12:49 PM
@Chloe - a new Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) sanction regime was introduced in October 2012. If he wants to claim JSA, he may be sanctioned if he leaves his job voluntarily. It means his Jobs and Benefits Office can delay his Jobseeker's Allowance for up to 26 weeks if he quits without good reason. If he decides to claim constructive dismissal on the back of the information you have given, make sure they know. If he cannot claim Jobseeker's Allowance, dependent upon circumstances he might still be able to claim a hardship payment, which is a reduced amount of Jobseeker's Allowance.
MattK - 24-Oct-14 @ 11:25 AM
My partner is a few weeks into starting a new job, on a probationary period of 3 months. His new company have messed him round from minute one, messing up his wages, empty promises, sending him away for long periods of time for work etc... If he hands in his notice during probation period, is he still entitled to JSA? Or can he not claim for another 6 weeks, we need to know where he stands as we've just had a baby. Please get back asap.
Chloe - 23-Oct-14 @ 7:48 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word: