A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing "sexual services" at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year.
Prostitution was legalized in Germany just over two years ago and brothel owners who
must pay tax and employee health insurance were
access to official databases of jobseekers.
The waitress, an unemployed information technology professional, had said that she was willing to work in a bar at night and had worked in a cafe.
She received a letter from the job centre telling her that an employer was interested in her "profile" and that she should ring them. Only on doing so did the woman, who has not been identified for legal reasons, realize that she was calling a brothel.
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. Last month German unemployment rose for the 11th consecutive
month to 4.5 million,
taking the number out of work to its highest since reunification in 1990.
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 centers must treat employers looking for a prostitute in the same way as those looking for a dental nurse.
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