The Work Program was suspended during the pandemic. DTA has reinstated the Work Program but has not reinstated sanctions. The rules below are the rules before the pandemic.
You should not be sanctioned if you have good cause for not meeting the Work Program rules or your Employment Development Plan. Good cause reasons include:
- lack of appropriate child care, see How do you get child care? How should you choose a child care provider?,
- illness or disability (yours or a family member’s),
- lack of affordable and reliable transportation,
- lack of an appropriate and available community service site identified by DTA, see What if you can’t find an appropriate Work Activity?,
- a family crisis, emergency, or other compelling circumstances,
- the job does not pay minimum wage, violates health or safety standards or discriminates on the basis of sex, race, religion, ethnic origin or disability,
- the job is available because of a strike or lockout, or
- you are participating in housing search. 106 C.M.R. § 701.380(A); DTA Operations Memo 2011-34 (July 5, 2011); DTA Online Guide (Good Cause Criteria), (Grantees Who Do Not Have to Meet the Work Program).
If DTA thinks you are not meeting the work requirement, it will send you a form listing the good cause reasons. To stop DTA from reducing or cutting off your benefits, circle the good cause reasons that apply, add any other reasons you think are good cause, and return the form to your worker within 10 days.
You may have good cause if no one at the work placement speaks your language or the placement is not appropriate for some other reason. See What if you can’t find an appropriate Work Activity?
- If you have just been evicted or you are homeless, you may be able to claim good cause on the basis of family crisis, emergency, or other compelling circumstances.
- Good cause due to family crisis, emergency or other compelling circumstances includes being in a domestic violence shelter or dealing with domestic violence. DTA Online Guide (Work Program Requirements/ Grantees Who Do Not Have to Meet the Work Program Requirement); DTA Online Guide (Good Cause Due to Domestic Violence). You may also be able to get a domestic violence waiver. See Can you get a waiver or good cause exception to welfare rules because of domestic violence?
- DTA may say you do not have good cause based on lack of appropriate and available child care if the Child Care Resource and Referral Agency won’t say that appropriate child care is not available. DTA Online Guide (Good Cause Criteria); DTA Field Operations Memo 2005-1A (Apr. 15, 2005). But you have a right (and a duty as a parent) to take into account what any reasonable parent would consider in deciding whether child care is appropriate. See How do you get child care? How should you choose a child care provider? Contact your local legal services program, Appendix D: Massachusetts Legal Services Offices, and file an appeal if you have not been referred to child care you think is appropriate and you are denied good cause. See Appeal Rights.
- You should be able to claim good cause if you cannot go to the Work Program activity for any reason beyond your control. You should be able to claim good cause if it is reasonable for you not to go the activity under the circumstances. If your worker will not approve your good cause claim, contact your local legal services program, Appendix D: Massachusetts Legal Services Offices, and file an appeal. See Appeal Rights.