Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Intricacies of Welfare Reform

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD - Australians are used to the idea of working for the dole, but the Germans have taken it a step further. A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing "sexual services" at a brothel in Berlin faces cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year. Prostitution was legalised in Germany two years ago and brothel owners - who must pay tax and employee health insurance - were granted access to official databases of job seekers.

The waitress, an unemployed information technology professional, 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 she realize 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 or lose her unemployment benefit.

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