Guide

Pay: employer obligations

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a new payment for working age people who are on a low income or are out of work. To get Universal Credit, a person must be aged 18 or over and be under State Pension age. It will be paid twice a month and includes support for the cost of housing, children and childcare, as well as financial support for disabled people, carers and people who are too sick to work.

The roll out of Universal Credit in Northern Ireland, on a phased geographical basis, began in September 2017

Universal Credit replaces:

  • Jobseeker's Allowance (income based)
  • Employment Support Allowance (income related)
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit

Impact on employers

You may find that some of your existing employees will start to receive Universal Credit or you may recruit someone who is receiving it.

Universal Credit is designed to deal with changes in earnings, allowing claimants to receive it when they are both in and out of work. This means that payments will not end when earnings increase, rather they will gradually decrease until wages reach a point that allows the claimant to leave Universal Credit.

Benefits of Universal Credit for employers

As an employer, you will find that Universal Credit:

  • makes it easier to fill any job by enabling unemployed people to consider short term or irregular work
  • allows existing staff to work different patterns to meet the peaks and troughs without the overheads associated with recruiting and training new staff
  • removes the ‘16 hour’ rule allowing staff to increase their hours leading to better productivity
  • enables recruitment from a wider pool of applicants

This provides potential employees with the opportunity to take temporary or seasonal jobs without worrying about making a brand new claim or any gaps between paydays as they move in and out of work.

Download details on how Universal Credit can help your business (PDF, 49K).

When is Universal Credit being introduced?

Universal Credit is intoduced for new claims, on a phased geographical basis, by Jobs & Benefits office/Social Security Office between September 2017 and December 2018.

The planned schedule is as follows:

Week commencing Office
27/09/2017 Limavady
15/11/2017 Ballymoney
13/12/2017 Magherafelt and Coleraine
17/01/2018 Strabane and Lisnagelvin
07/02/2018 Foyle and Armagh
21/02/2018 Omagh and Enniskillen
07/03/2018 Dungannon and Portadown
16/05/2018 Newry and Downpatrick
30/05/2018 Lurgan, Newcastle and Kilkeel
13/06/2018 Falls and Shankill
27/06/2018 Andersonstown and Banbridge
05/09/2018 Holywood Road and Ballynahinch
19/09/2018 Newtownabbey and Newtownards
03/10/2018 Shaftesbury Square and Carrickfergus
17/10/2018 Knockbreda and Bangor
31/10/2018 Lisburn and Larne
14/11/2018 North Belfast and Cookstown
05/12/2018 Ballymena and Antrim


People who receive any of the six benefits being replaced by Universal Credit will be transferred to Universal Credit between July 2019 and March 2023.

If a claimant receives one of the existing benefits that will be replaced and they live in a Universal Credit area but their circumstances change, they may move to Universal Credit from September 2017.

Additional information on Universal Credit