Working Tax Credits - Working Term Time Only

(20 Posts)
trinni Sun 08-May-11 21:45:40

Hi, hope someone knows the answer to this.

I will be working as a teaching assistant, term time only as from next week. I will work 26 hrs during the term but will be paid throughout the 52 weeks of the year. Average hours per week are 17.

WTC - How will I be paid? Do I tell them I work 26 hours term time only or that I work 17 hours all year round? Surely the latter would mean I would get more WTC?

Anyone else work term time? Obv I'm a single parent with 2 dc aged 12 & 10.

bleachbabe Sun 08-May-11 21:50:49

I'm not sure if this helps or not - when I used to claim tax credits, my DD attended a term-time-only nursery. My childcare costs were averaged out over 52 weeks of the year, even though I only paid for 38. So, logically, the same should apply to your working hours.

Be completely honest with them. Tell them that you work 26 hours, term-time only, but that you get paid throughout 52 weeks of the year, which averages at 17 hours per week. If you don't tell them the truth, and they overpay you, they can be quite vicious about claiming it back (not to mention the fact that it's illegal to lie when claiming tax credits!).

I'm sure they'll go with the 17 hours per week option.

voodoomunkee Sun 08-May-11 21:55:38

Just a thought, aren't there rumours about increasing the hours people have to work to claim wtc to 20 something a week? Might be worth checking this out (although I doubt very much it is going to happen over night if at all!).

trinni Sun 08-May-11 22:01:20

Thanks for replying so quickly bleachbabe.

It makes sense to me that as my wages are spread thinly throughout the 52 weeks of the year logically, I will need topping up with WTC.

I believe the WTC payment is the same whether you work 16 or 26 hours? Therefore, if I were to be paid based on 26 hours term time only and then it were to be averaged out over the 52 weeks, I'd actually get less?

Am I being sensible here or a dimwit?

trinni Sun 08-May-11 22:04:48

I haven't heard that WTC working hours are about to change but I don't even understand the basics thus far!

Mutt Sun 08-May-11 22:06:03

Surely as long as you work a minimum of 16 hours a week on average it doesn't make any difference if you say you work 26 or 17.

The amount of tax credits you receive will be based on how much you are earning not how many hours. The next level of WTC kicks in if you work 30 hours a week I believe.

SameAsYou Sun 08-May-11 22:10:31

I am term time too - I work 28 hours but divided out for WTC they have calculated to 24.38 hours. So the salary amount and WTC is the same to enable myself to get the same each week.

So as Mutt said its on salary not hours.

callow Sun 08-May-11 22:13:32

There is a special dispensation for term time workers in schools and they only need to state to total hours they work during the term time. They don't need to be rounded off.

www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/start/claiming/income-hours/work-out-hours.htm

It doesn't apply to people who have term time contract (ie other workers are still working in their place of employment such as a shop worker or ward nurse).

trinni Sun 08-May-11 22:26:17

Ah it's based on salary and not hours....That makes sense thank you all!

trinni Sun 08-May-11 22:31:07

Thank you callow, that was a useful link.

I think I can sleep tonight now.

gillybean2 Sun 08-May-11 22:53:20

On the weeks you work you work 26 hours.
So that is what you tell them, that you work 26 hours a week.

I was told this by the lone parent advisor at the job centre, when I worked at a playschool for 17 hours a week term only which obviously comes to less than the 16hours a week needed for WTC if you average it over the whole year. She said it was fine and o put the hours I work on teh weeks I actually work.

I then had a part time job with flexible hours, which averaged out at 18 hours per week. Some weeks I worked more, some less, but as long as I had done my total hours by the end of the year they were happy. As I worked every week I simply said it was 18 hours a week.

I am now back to working term time only (plus 2 weeks of the summer hols). I still get paid the same every month regardless. It's easier that way (for me and my boss!). The WTC calculation is based on the hours I do on the weeks I work.

It only really matters if the hours are close to 16 or 30 per week but you should tell them what the hours are on the weeks you work. The only exception being if the hours vary from week to week.

trinni Sun 08-May-11 23:05:54

Hi gillybean2
My hours will be a regular 26 per week with the very odd exception (couple of days) here and there.

It's an independent school so the term times are shorter however, I should still average more than 16 hrs over 52 weeks.

I'm confused again now! Is it based on salary or hours worked?

Mutt Sun 08-May-11 23:09:11

Stop worrying about the average hours you work. When you work, during term time, you work 26 hours.

You therefore tell them you work 26 hours. End of.

How much they pay you in WTC will be based on your salary.

So, according to the link by callow you put down the hours you usually work, so if you work 16 hours, term time only, you put down 16 hours per week...?

So if you work 16 hours a week, term time only, you get Tax credits despite the fact that you only actually work 12 hours a week on average?!! what a joke.

gillybean2 Mon 09-May-11 13:22:32

We are meant to be trying to encourage people to pick work and to make it worth their while. Child care issues is a huge problem for any single parent trying to get back into work.

So why is it a joke if they can only work term time?

If I hadn't of been able to work term time only to start with I couldn't of worked as there was no childcare options available to me.

Lone parents like me have to find child care for the school holidays plus non pupil days (13 weeks and no ex to share with and no family to help). On top of that we have snow days, sickness etc to cover. Not many bosses will give that as an option unless they are already set up for term time only (class room assistants in school, play groups etc).

I am able to claim money for help with childcare so if I'd worked every week I'd of got WTC AND child care help rather than just the WTC. So it's actually a cheaper option for the government in my situation to carry on paying the WTC and not have to help towards my child care costs too.

There was no childcare options available in my village when I first started working. Term time was the only option for me once my ds started school. I I was on Income Support for 5 years.
Once I had taken a (term time only) job at the local play school for a year it meant I was confident enough to look for a different job. Having been out of the work place for 5 years it's tough getting back on the job ladder, more so for single parents imo.

Eventually a lady in my village did sign up as a childminder. I was then able to find a better paid job for more hours. Yes it was an hour's commute but the propescts were better. I ended up earning about the same (even though I was paid more) because I had to pay travel and childcare costs and my WTC was reduced because I earnt more.
My childminder gave up after 6 months! Which left me struggling and stressing over what I was going to do. Work kindly agreed to let me swap my hours around and work shorter days (18 instead of 21). I made up extra hours in the school hols by putting my ds in a holiday club from 8am-6pm and working as many hours as I could during the holidays. He also had to do the hour's commute each way each day on top of those hours. School holidays were exhausting.

I did that for 5 years. Now my ds is 12 the childcare options have shrunk again. He is at seconday so I have been able to change my hours to work more in the week but I can only get childcare near work for Easter and Summer hols (still no options in my village for childminder).
This is why I've swapped to term time only again but I will work 2 weeks of the summer and am flexible about easter and more in the summer if my boss needs me to be.
I work damn hard and I do it all on my on. There is no respite, there is no one to cook dinner if I feel tired or am ill, there is no one else to take ds to the dentist or help him with his homework or take the car to the garage (all things I have to use annual leave for). I have had 12 years of relentless grind and sheer exhaustion and living on a low income (yes I am classed as living in fuel poverty and 10% of my income went on childcare until I swapped back to term time only this January)

It is not an easy life and frankly I'd like to spend some time with my ds. If I choose to forgo wages and take unpaid leave in the holidays now (which is hardly a choice either because I don't have many childcare options) then why shoudln't I? Or would you rather I messed work around by having to hand in my notice for a couple of weeks at xmas and sign on and then ask my boss for my job back after the holidays? What employer is going to do that!?
What I get in WTC is about the same as I got on IS. It really isn't huge amount of money, but it makes a huge difference to my ds's life and to mine.

So, why is it a joke to you pickyourbrain?

gillybean2 Mon 09-May-11 13:28:07

I might add that when my ds is old enough to be left at home for 8 hours in a row, 5 days a week, then I shall be more than happy to work more of the school holidays. Luckily my employer has given me the chance to prove myself and have said they are happy for me to do more hours as and when my situation allows it.
I know I have been very fortunate to have such an understanding boss who was happy for me to take time off for school plays, sports day etc and let me work extra long hours in the school hols to cover it. Not everyone is so lucky. They are gaining now from me being a reliable and experienced employee who is flexible when I can be.

woah, woah, woah... I wasnt say term time only was a joke!!! I was saying that if you work 16 hours a week (the IMO very low minimum amount of hours required) you can actually get away with only working 12 hours a week on average and still claim as though you are as 'employed' as someone working, say, 25 hours.

I totally get that you may have child car eissues etc and want to work term time only but in my opinion allowing people to work 12 hours a week and still considering them to be 'employed' is a shameless attempt by the government to keep people off of the unemployed stats.

I also find it a bit strange to be told "as a single parent i can't/ it's hard..."

I was a single parent myself for 5 years, I know.

As an aside, kids get 13 weeks holiday a year... most employers offer 5 weeks holiday. So that is 8 weeks of the year to find alternatives for a 12 year old. To me, that is not enough of an obstacle to employment.

If you can get term time only then great, but if you can't then i doubt it is more benficial for a 12 year old to have a parent on JS than have to be in holiday clubs or at home alone for 8 weeks..

Astramum Fri 13-May-11 06:42:45

I am also work at an Independent school part time, term time only. I told Tax Credits all this, so my WTC is calculated over the WHOLE year, not just term time.
It was the same with child care --- again I just need it term time, again which I told TC, and this is also calculated over the WHOLE year.

So astramum, that is not the advice as per the TC website... according to that you should be getting TC as if you work the weekly hours you usually do, every week. It makes no sense to me but if you are missing out maybe you should look in to it.

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