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Migrant Worker Not Disproportionately Penalised

The Court of Appeal has rejected arguments that a European Union (EU) national was disproportionately penalised by the refusal of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) on the basis that he had not been ‘legally working’ for an ‘authorised employer’ for 12 months prior to his application for the benefit.

The claimant, a national of one of the 10 states that acceded to the EU in 2004, had worked for a period within the UK before becoming unemployed and applying for JSA. His lawyers argued that he met the requirements for entitlement to the benefit laid down by the Accession (Immigration and Worker Registration) Regulations 2004.

However, the Department for Work and Pensions argued that he could not be said to have been continuously and legally employed for the requisite 12-month period in that he had not applied for a registration certificate under the Regulations until the expiry of the first month of his employment. The certificate was in fact issued to him over three months after the commencement of that employment.

In dismissing the claimant’s appeal against a ruling of the upper tribunal to like effect, the Court ruled that, on a correct interpretation of the Regulations, the issue of the certificate did not have the effect of retrospectively validating the whole period of employment for the purposes of claiming JSA. The Court also rejected arguments that a narrow interpretation of the Regulations visited a disproportionate penalty on the claimant as the price of his late application for a certificate.