Work Search

Overview

During Stage 1 of the application process, applicants are assessed as to whether they have already completed a satisfactory work search or are required to complete a work search or if they are exempt from this requirement.  The intent of this requirement is to emphasize that income assistance is a program of last resort intended to be provided on a temporary basis.  A work search ensures that applicants pursue employment before relying on income assistance.

This requirement applies to applicants under the Employment and Assistance Regulation and Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Regulation, unless one of the exemptions applies.

Policy

Effective: October 1, 2012

During Stage 1 of the application process, applicants are assessed as to whether they have already completed a satisfactory work search or are required to complete a work search or if they are exempt from this requirement. 

income assistancehardship assistancedisability assistance, or , applicants must:

  • complete an active work search as directed by the minister for the appropriate length of time between Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the application process, or
  • demonstrate that they have completed an active work search satisfactory to the minister lasting either:
    • three weeks within the 30-day period prior to the date of the Stage 1 application, or
    • five weeks within the 45-day period prior to the date of the Stage 1 application,  and
  • provide information and verification of their search for employment

[For more information on the length of the work search required – See Policy – Duration of Work Search.]

At the time of the Application Stage 1, all applicants who do not meet one of the exemption criteria must be made aware of these requirements.  [see Related Links – Orientation and  BCEA Application – Stage 1 – Prospecting]

Work search requirements are assessed on the day that the Application for Income Assistance (Part 1) Form (HR0080A) is signed by the applicant and submitted to the appropriate Employment and Assistance Office or in the case of telephone service delivery, on the day verbal consent is received and documented on the Application Part 1 form.

If the applicant has a spouse, both the applicant and spouse will be assessed to determine if they are required to complete either the three-week or five-week work search.  If only one spouse meets the exemption criteria, the other spouse is still required to complete the appropriate length work search. The family unit cannot proceed to Stage 2 until a reasonable work search is completed.

EXCEPTION:  In cases where an applicant or any person in the family unit has an immediate need for food, shelter, or urgent medical attention, the family unit is not required to complete the work search prior to proceeding to Stage 2 of the application process. Family units who have not completed their work search and have been determined to have an immediate need will be assessed for hardship assistance. Eligible recipients will be provided with hardship assistance while they complete the required work search.

If an eligibility interview cannot be completed in time to meet the immediate need, then staff must ensure the applicant’s immediate need is addressed within the same business day. [see Related Links – Immediate Needs and Immediate Needs – Work Search Required]

In addition, if an applicant or any member of the family unit has the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) designation at the time of application, the entire family unit is exempt from the work search and must proceed directly to Stage 2 of the application process. [For information on the exemptions to the work search, see Policy – Exemptions.]

Underage applicants between 16 and 19 years of age must also satisfy the three- or five-week reasonable work search requirement unless they meet one of the exemption criteria.  This includes 17-year-olds who are applying for PWD designation up to six months prior to their 18th birthday. 

[For information on work search requirements for 17-year-olds applying for PWD, see Policy – Special Circumstances.]

Effective: October 1, 2012

The duration of the work search is dependent on whether the applicant has previously been in receipt of income assistance or disability assistance.

New applicants, those who have never been in receipt of income assistance or disability assistance before, are required to complete or demonstrate that they have completed a satisfactory work search lasting five weeks. Former recipients who have only ever received hardship assistance are required to complete a five-week work search.

Former recipients who have previously received either income or disability assistance and who are now reapplying for assistance are required to complete or demonstrate that they have completed a satisfactory work search lasting three weeks.

In cases where either the applicant or spouse is a former recipient, the length of the work search required for both is three weeks.

[For additional information on length of time to complete work search – see Forms and Letters – Work Search Review HR3116.]

Effective: October 1, 2012

Reasonable work search activities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • preparing a resume
  • searching for job openings on the Internet
  • telephone inquiries to and face-to-face contact with potential employers about openings
  • submitting applications or resumes for jobs
  • responding to newspaper advertisements
  • conducting information interviews and establishing new contacts with potential employers
  • accessing Employment Program of British Columbia (EPBC) services or other public or private employment services.  Other public or private employment services could include, but are not limited to:  temporary employment agencies, organizations providing federally funded employment services and programming (e.g., Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS), organizations delivering provincially funded employment services administered by other ministries (e.g., Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation (MJTI) Labour Market Agreement (LMA) programming. 
  • attending job search sessions or job fairs
  • attending relevant union halls to determine available employment
  • actively networking with friends, relatives, neighbours, previous employers and others to generate and pursue job leads
  • pursuing job shadowing opportunities
  • researching and assessing availability of jobs in the local community
  • assessing whether skills match available opportunities; if not, investigating alternate occupations at the current skill level or alternate geographic locations
  • attending workshops on employment searches
  • employment interviews
  • volunteer activities

[For additional information on reasonable work search requirements, see Work Search Activities Record (HR0077) – Forms and Letters.]

Effective:  October 1, 2012

An applicant must be exempt from either the three- or five-week work search if the applicant:

  • is fleeing an abusive spouse or relative
  • is a sole applicant
    • with a dependent child, or
    • provides care to a child in the home of a relative, a foster child or a child in their care under an agreement referred to in sections 8 or 93 (1) (g) (ii) of the Child, Family and Community Service Act  if the child has not reached 3 years of age
  • has a physical or mental condition that, in the minister's opinion, precludes the applicant from completing a search for employment (i.e., incapacitated due to the nature of medical treatment, incapacitated in hospital, late stages of terminal illness or pregnancy)
  • or any person in the family unit is a person with disabilities (PWD)
  • cannot legally work in Canada (e.g., the applicant is a person seeking refugee protection status who does not have a work permit).  However, if one of the adult applicants in a family unit is entitled to work in Canada, the three-week work search criteria must be met before the family is eligible to apply for assistance
  • has reached 65 years of age or
  • is applying for Medical Services Only
  • is in a hospital or continuing care facility and is receiving a comforts allowance and needs to apply for regular assistance because they are leaving the facility

For applicants assessed as having an immediate need, see Related Links – Immediate Needs and Immediate Needs – Work Search Required.

Note: Applicants in the following circumstances may also be exempt from the work search as they are considered to meet the above exemption – incapacitated due to the nature of medical treatment:

  • those who have been ordered by the court to enter a supportive recovery home or an alcohol or drug facility, and the applicant’s ability to enter the recovery home or facility depends on the applicant being in receipt of assistance
  • those who have voluntarily chosen or have been recommended by a medical professional to attend, and have been accepted into, an alcohol or drug treatment or rehabilitation centre, and the applicant’s ability to attend depends on being in receipt of assistance

Staff must assess all applicants and be proactive in determining whether they meet one of the exemption criteria, as not all applicants will identify themselves as having an exemption.

Clients who qualify for an exemption to the work search will proceed directly to Stage 2 of the application process and receive an expedited eligibility interview.  Applicants who have an immediate need or are fleeing abuse must be given an urgent eligibility interview at the first possible opportunity.  If an eligibility interview cannot be completed in time to meet the immediate need, then staff must ensure the applicant’s immediate need is addressed within the same business day. Applicants who are otherwise exempt from the work search may also have an immediate need, in which case the immediate need takes precedence in determining priority for an eligibility interview.  If an applicant meets the other exemption criteria, staff must schedule an eligibility interview to take place within five business days.  [see Related Links – Immediate Needs]

Where applicants have both the PWD designation and a physical or mental condition which precludes them from completing a search for employment, the PWD designation takes precedence.

Staff should be aware that, while they may conclude that none of the exemptions apply and a person is required to conduct the work search, a person's circumstances may change to warrant a reassessment.

Note: If staff are unable to determine whether an applicant’s mental or physical condition precludes a search for employment, then staff may request an applicant provide documentation from a medical practitioner explaining the severity of the applicant’s condition and type of treatment.

Employment Plan (EP) should be completed immediately after the expedited application for assistance has been approved for all persons with employment-related obligations [For more information, see Related Links – Employment Plan.]

Effective: October 1, 2012

If it has been determined that the applicant or any person in the family unit has an immediate need for food, shelter or urgent medical attention, the family unit will proceed directly to Stage 2 of the application process.  However, as a requirement for eligibility for income or disability assistance, the family unit is still required to either:

  • complete the appropriate length work search, as directed by the Minister, or
  • provide proof they have conducted an active work search prior to the Stage 1 application.

If the family unit can demonstrate they have completed the required work search prior to Stage 1 application, they will proceed directly to Stage 2 of the application process and be assessed for either income or disability assistance. [see Policy – Proof of Reasonable Work Search and Related Link – Immediate Needs]

If the family unit has not completed the required work search, they will proceed directly to Stage 2 of the application process and be assessed for hardship assistance. Once the family unit has been determined eligible for Hardship Assistance – Immediate Needs – Work Search Required, the recipient and spouse will be required to complete either a three- or five-week work search, as directed by the minister, while receiving hardship assistance.

[see Related Links – Immediate Needs and Immediate Needs – Work Search Required]

Effective: October 1, 2012

Recipients of hardship assistance – Immediate Needs – Work Search Required who do not complete their required work search, as directed by the minister, within 3 months, are found ineligible for continued hardship assistance and will have their case closed.   After the recipient’s case has been closed, they are able to reapply for assistance if still in need. If they reapply for assistance, they will begin at Stage 1 of the application process and will be required to meet the work search requirements.  

If they have not previously received income assistance or disability assistance, they are required to complete a five-week work search. Former recipients who have only ever received hardship assistance are required to complete a five-week work search.

Clients who are found ineligible for assistance (for example, because they have not complied with their employment plan), and then reapply are required to complete another work search during Stage 1 of the application process.

Clients who had their PWD designation rescinded and are reapplying for assistance are required to complete the work search.  However, if they meet any of the other exemption criteria an applicant must be exempt from the work search.

Effective: October 1, 2012

Marital/Spousal Breakdown – When a spouse is deleted from a case because of marital or spousal breakdown and the former spouse reapplies for assistance on his or her own, neither spouse is required to repeat the work search.

Adding a Spouse –When a spouse is added to a case, that person is not required to satisfy the work search requirement before receiving income assistance.  Ongoing eligibility may depend upon the spouse entering into an Employment Plan (EP), if required.

Applicant is a Pre-release Prisoner – As part of pre-release planning, prisoners will be assessed as having an immediate need for food, shelter or urgent medical attention upon release.  The applicant will proceed directly to Stage 2 of the application process and be assessed for hardship assistance – Immediate Needs – Work Search Required.  Once eligibility is determined, an appointment should be booked to review the work search requirements with the recipient to ensure it is completed within 3 months. Applicant is a 17-Year-Old Applying for PWD – Underage applicants applying for a PWD designation can complete their three- or five-week work search at any time prior to proceeding to Stage 2 of the application process.  If the applicant has a physical or mental condition that precludes looking for work, the applicant is not required to complete the work search [see Policy – Exemptions].  Otherwise, if their efforts are limited by their disability, they should be advised to indicate this on their Work Search Activities Record (HR0077).  Ministry staff will determine whether applicants’ efforts are reasonable based on the individual circumstances of each case.  If the applicant’s PWD designation has been approved, this will also be taken into account when the work search is reviewed.  [For procedures for 17-year-old applicants for PWD, see Related Links –Designation Application – Procedures.]

Effective: October 1, 2012

Before ministry staff can proceed to Stage 2 of the application process, applicants are required to provide proof they have conducted an active work search of appropriate duration in the period immediately prior to the Stage 1 application. [For more information on the length of the work search required – See Policy – Duration of Work Search.]

Note: This does not apply if applicants are exempt from completing the work search. In addition, applicants assessed as having an immediate need will proceed to Stage 2 and be assessed for hardship assistance while they complete their work search requirement. [see Related Links – Immediate Needs – Work Search Required]

For Applicants completing a Work Search prior to Stage 1 application

General questions about what work search activities the applicant has been conducting may include:

  • methods they used to search for work
  • kinds of work they have been looking for
  • employers they have met with recently
  • future employment interviews they have scheduled
  • Internet sites they used to search for work (examples include WorkBC and the National Job Bank)
  • their use of resources such as the Employment Program of British Columbia (EPBC) and any other local employment services, including those funded by the federal government and other provincial ministries (e.g., Ministry of Jobs Tourism and Innovation (MJTI)).

Since applicants may not necessarily be aware that they would be required to provide documentation of their work search activities, formal documentation where necessary may be provided at the Stage 2 application on a later day.  These may include:

  • an up-to-date resume
  • photocopies of application forms and cover letters submitted to employers
  • a comprehensive list of work search activities such as described on Work Search Activities Record (HR0077)
  • a completed HR0077 (if provided earlier)
  • a copy of the signed Action Plan entered into with their local WorkBC Employment Service Centre, if the applicant is receiving case management services through the EPBC training courses.

Use of the Reasonable Work Search Activities Guidelines (HR3115) may assist in this process.  [see Forms and Letters]

Information regarding the applicant’s work search efforts should be recorded on the Work Search Review Form (HR3116). [see Forms and Letters]

For Applicants completing a work search after Stage 1 or 2 application

Applicants must provide a completed Work Search Activities Record (HR0077) that documents their work search activities or their reasons for not seeking work.  At a minimum, the completed HR0077 should indicate the following:

  • date, type, and location of activity
  • contact names and telephone numbers
  • results of their work search

Applicants should be prepared to discuss the following with ministry staff:

  • methods they used to search for work
  • kinds of work they have been looking for
  • employers they have met with recently
  • future employment interviews they have scheduled
  • Internet sites they used to search for work
  • their use of resources such as the Employment Program of British Columbia (EPBC) and any other local employment services, including those funded by the federal government and other provincial ministries (e.g., MJTI).

In addition, applicants may provide documents such as the following as proof of their work search activities:

  • up-to-date resume
  • photocopies of application forms and cover letters submitted to employers
  • employment opportunity descriptions or newspaper advertisements of opportunities they have applied for

Effective: October 1, 2012

Workers should not draw any conclusions at Stage 1 of the application process about the likelihood of work search success for any applicant, and instead should assess each applicant’s work search taking into account the factors that contribute to the type and scope of that person’s work search efforts.  It is generally accepted that looking for work is a full time job in itself.  The work search should demonstrate regular and ongoing attempts to secure employment.  Work search efforts are not restricted to a specific or narrow job category or wage range.

Requirements that the applicant must meet in determining whether or not a work search is reasonable are outlined in the Work Search Review (HR3116). 

Individual experience, capabilities and limited work opportunities in remote areas will affect the degree and quality of the work search.  The work search conducted by applicants who live in a community with relatively few employers should not be expected to include 20 to 30 employers, while a work search in a strong and large labour market should have a higher number of employer contacts.  The presence of an apparent disability may have an effect on the work search of an individual.  Except where a physical or mental condition precludes any search for employment, none of these factors in and of themselves would exempt a person from the requirement to conduct a work search, but should be considered in determining what is a reasonable work search.

The HR3116 provides documentation that can be used in cases where intentional non-compliance is determined and applicants are denied an application appointment.  The Reasonable Wok Search Activities Guidelines (HR3115) will assist in making this decision.

[For procedures for 17-year-old applicants for PWD, see Related Links – Designation Application – Procedures.]

Effective: October 1, 2012

If it is determined that an applicant has not conducted a reasonable work search prior to Stage 1 application, the applicant is required to complete a reasonable work search between Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the application process, see Policy – Duration of Work Search.

Effective: November 1, 2005

If it is determined an applicant has not conducted a reasonable work search, additional work search days may be required.  Discretion should be applied to determine the number of additional work search days the applicant may be required to complete to demonstrate an adequate work search, taking into account the degree to which the applicant's search failed to meet the test of reasonableness.

Note: The number of additional work search days must not exceed 21 days until the next interview.

Effective: November 1, 2005

If a decision is made to deny an application based on the reasonable work search requirement, applicants must be advised of their right to reconsideration. [For more information, see Related Links – Reconsideration]

Procedures

Effective: October 1, 2012

To assess an applicant's work search, follow these steps:
 

  1. Ensure that the applicant has had an orientation. [See Related Links – Orientation]
     
  2. Determine duration of work search (activity plan):
    • Search for the contact on the system to determine if the applicant was previously an income assistance or disability assistance client
    • If information does not appear to be on the system, ask the applicant to submit proof that they previously received income assistance or disability assistance
    • If the applicant is unable to provide proof, and has exhausted all avenues to provide proof, a signed declaration from the applicant is acceptable
       
  3. On the Work Search Review (HR3116), [see Forms and Letters] indicate if the applicant has brought in an up-to-date resume.  If not, discuss the reasons.
     
  4. Indicate if the applicant has brought in a completed Work Search Activities Record (HR0077) [see Forms and Letters] or other suitable record.  If not, discuss the reasons.  If so, complete the questions 4 to 6 by reviewing the HR0077 or similar record.  Discuss any “no” responses and make notes on the HR3116.
     
  5. If applicable, make notes on any lack of resources or employment opportunities in the community that would impede an effective work search.
     
  6. If applicable, discuss and note any reasons why the applicant may not have been able to make reasonable efforts to search for work.
     
  7. If applicable, make sure the applicant has completed the Declaration and Notification section of the HR0077 indicating that the information provided is true and complete.
     
  8. At the bottom of the HR3116, indicate if the applicant satisfies the work search requirement.  Sign the HR3116 and scan and profilewith the HR0077 or other relevant job search information.

    Note: As the decision on a reasonable work search may be reconsidered, make sure to note factual, objective, non-judgmental information on the HR3116.  If more space is required for notes to support a decision, attach an additional page to the HR3116.
     
  9. If the applicant has satisfied the work search requirement, schedule an appointment for the Stage 2 interview.

    If the applicant has not satisfied the work search requirement:
    • Explain to the applicant a reasonable work search has not been conducted prior to application, and that the applicant is required to complete a reasonable work search for the period between Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the application process.
    • Reiterate that an application cannot proceed to Stage 2 until a reasonable work search has been completed and reviewed.
    • Encourage the applicant to access ministry funded Employment Program of British Columbia (EPBC) employment services from their local WorkBC Employment Services Centre (ESC).
    • Advise the applicant of the right to reconsideration. [For more information, see Related Links – Reconsideration.]

Effective:  October 1, 2012

At the 14-day/21-day work search review (whichever is appropriate for the case), follow these steps:
 

  1. Ensure that the applicant has had an orientation. [See Related Links – Orientation] Review the Work Search Activities Record (HR0077) [see Forms and Letters].
     
  2. Use the appropriate Work Search Review (HR3116) (choose either three-week or five-week work search form from drop-down box) [see Forms and Letters] to assist in determining a satisfactory work search.
     
  3. If the applicant has completed the required number of work search activities, give the applicant an eligibility interview appointment to take place after the required work search.
     
  4. If the applicant has completed less than the number of work search activities required, then explain to the applicant what activities will need to be completed before an eligibility interview is given.
     
  5. Inform the applicant that during the remaining period of the work search, he or she will be required to complete the rest of the work search activities.
     
  6. Advise the applicant that an application cannot proceed to Stage 2 until a reasonable work search has been completed.
     
  7. Advise that if circumstances change and the applicant has an immediate need for food, shelter or urgent medical attention, he or she should contact the ministry for reassessment.
     
  8. Review any third party check information that has been completed for discussion with the applicant, request further documentation if required.

Effective:  October 1, 2012

To assess an applicant's work search, follow these steps:

  1. Ensure that the applicant has had an orientation. [See Related Links – Orientation]
     
  2. On the appropriate Work Search Review (HR3116) (choose either three-week or five-week work search form from drop-down box), [see Forms and Letters] indicate if the applicant has brought in an up-to-date resume.  If not, discuss the reasons.
     
  3. Indicate if the applicant has brought in a completed Work Search Activities Record (HR0077) [see Forms and Letters].  If not, discuss the reasons.  If so, complete the next three questions by reviewing the HR0077.  Discuss any “no” responses and make notes.
     
  4. If applicable, make notes on any lack of resources or employment opportunities in the community that would impede an effective work search.
     
  5. If applicable, discuss and note any reasons why the applicant may not have been able to make reasonable efforts to search for work.
     
  6. Make sure the applicant has completed the Declaration and Notification section of the HR0077 indicating that the information provided is true and complete.
     
  7. At the bottom of the HR3116, indicate if the applicant satisfies the work search requirement.  Sign the HR3116 and scan and profile with the HR0077.

    Note: As the decision on a reasonable work search may be reconsidered, make sure to note factual, objective, non-judgmental information on the HR3116.  If more space is required for notes to support a decision, attach an additional page to the HR3116.
     
  8. If the applicant has satisfied the requirement, proceed with an eligibility interview.
    [For more information, see Related Links – BCEA Application – Stage 1 Prospecting.] 

    If the applicant has not satisfied the requirement:
    • Explain to the applicant what additional activities must be carried out to demonstrate reasonable efforts to obtain employment.  Apply discretion to determine the number of additional days required to demonstrate a reasonable work search [see Policy – Additional Work Search Days Required].
    • Reiterate that an application cannot proceed to Stage 2 until a reasonable work search has been completed and reviewed.
    • If receiving hardship assistance – Immediate Needs – Work Search Required, reiterate that hardship is only available for 3 months, while they complete their required search.  If, at the end of the 3 months they have not met the requirement, then their case will be closed. The client is able to reapply for assistance but must begin at Stage 1 of the application process and complete another work search. If they have completed the work search requirements, the worker will assess eligibility for income assistance. 
    • Advise the applicant of the right to reconsideration. [For more information, see Related Links – Reconsideration.]
       
  9. If the applicant still does not satisfy the work search requirement after additional days, repeat the process until a reasonable work search has been completed.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Question   Are applicants who have exhausted their EI benefits automatically exempt from proving they have conducted a reasonable work search?

Answer   No.  Applicants will need to provide information and verification about their work search activities.

 

Question   Are Employment and Assistance workers (EAWs) required to routinely verify applicants' or clients’ work searches with employers?

Answer   No.  EAWs are not expected to routinely verify information on the Work Search Activities Record (HR0077).  EAWs should exercise discretion and sound judgment when reviewing the HR0077 and may opt to verify information, when needed to make a decision.

 

Question   If applicants have confirmed employment, are they required to complete a work search?

Answer   All applicants are expected to complete a work search, unless an Employment and Assistance Worker determines that the applicant meets one of the exemption criteria.  Clients who qualify for an exemption from the work search will proceed directly to Stage 2 of the application process.

 

Question   Are applicants who do not speak English required to complete a work search?

Answer   All applicants are expected to complete a reasonable work search in Stage 1 except those who meet one of the exemptions.  The Work Search Review (HR3116) describes factors that must be considered in determining whether or not a work search is reasonable.

 

Question   If a minor was a dependent of a parent receiving assistance but can no longer live with the parent and needs to apply for assistance, is that minor required to complete a work search?

Answer   Minors who are age 16 or older and apply for assistance independent of their parent(s) are expected to complete a work search, unless an Employment and Assistance Worker determines that the applicant meets one of the exemption criteria.  Minors under age 16 are not eligible for assistance and must be referred to the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

 

Question   Are persons whose sponsorship has broken down required to complete a work search?

Answer    A work search is required of all applicants, unless an Employment and Assistance Worker determines that the applicant meets one of the exemption criteria.

 

Question   Are persons who are receiving MSO and need to apply for income assistance or disability assistance required to complete a work search prior to application?

Answer    Individuals who are currently receiving MSO and need to apply for income or disability assistance are required to complete a work search unless an Employment and Assistance Worker determines that the applicant meets one of the exemption criteria. [see Related Links – Immediate Needs]

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