Say you got laid (no future pun on this intended) off. You are receiving unemployment benefits. You get a job offer from a different field that pays well, better than your previous job, but you decide to turn it down. Would the state be justified in cutting off your benefits? At first thought I would say, “Yes“, with the qualification that the state shouldn’t be in the business of employment insurance to begin with. Germans have a new wrinkle in this area of their law since they made prostitution legal two years ago.
Under Germany’s welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job – including in the sex industry – or lose her unemployment benefit.
The government had considered making brothels an exception on moral grounds, but decided that it would be too difficult to distinguish them from bars. As a result, job centres must treat employers looking for a prostitute in the same way as those looking for a dental nurse.
When the waitress looked into suing the job centre, she found out that it had not broken the law. Job centres that refuse to penalise people who turn down a job by cutting their benefits face legal action from the potential employer.
“There is now nothing in the law to stop women from being sent into the sex industry,” said Merchthild Garweg, a lawyer from Hamburg who specialises in such cases. “The new regulations say that working in the sex industry is not immoral any more, and so jobs cannot be turned down without a risk to benefits.”
Miss Garweg said that women who had worked in call centres had been offered jobs on telephone sex lines. At one job centre in the city of Gotha, a 23-year-old woman was told that she had to attend an interview as a “nude model”, and should report back on the meeting. Employers in the sex industry can also advertise in job centres, a move that came into force this month. A job centre that refuses to accept the advertisement can be sued.
I’m so amused. This is what you get for government to have a monopoly on employment insurance.
Update: Be sure to read the comments to this post.
Update 2: See this link for more (or less) about the story.