§ Miss Quennell
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why workers employed on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays under present conditions receive three days' benefit, while those working Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays receive two days' benefit.
§ Mr. Dean
The difference in the number of days of benefit paid is the result of what is called the "normal idle day" rule, which has been part of the national insurance legislation for many years and is at present contained in Section 20(1)(b) 385W of the National Insurance Act 1965. The rule provides that, where a person's employment has been suspended, as distinct from terminated, unemployment benefit is not payable in any week for a day on which the person would not work in the normal course, unless he is unemployed (or sick) on all the other days in the week when he would normally be at work.
The application of the rule to any individual claimant is a matter for the independent adjudicating authorities, but its general effect in present conditions is as follows. People working on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays who have three days of unemployment on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays—days on which they normally work—receive benefit for those three days. Those working Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays receive benefit for the two days they normally work but on which they are unemployed—Thursdays and Fridays—but not for Saturdays unless they normally work on that day, in which case unemployment benefit is paid for Saturdays also. The benefit position thus corresponds to the facts of the situation.