In Germany, the ruling of the Federal Labour Court on the case of the Bulgarian caregiver who sued for minimum wage for 24 hours of work per day has triggered an intense discussion. The governing coalition wants to create a legally secure basis for 24-hour care. The agencies’ interest group proposes the introduction of the self-employed model based on the Austrian model.
In Germany, there are various employment models (full-time and part-time employment, mini-job, self-employment), the sector is largely unregulated. The precarious working conditions of caregivers are characterised by excessive working hours, low pay and a lack of social security. Serious violations of the law and abusive practices are not uncommon, as the counselling centres know.
The proponents of the self-employed model are of the opinion that its introduction would put an end to the breaks in labour law and that the caregivers would be covered by social security. However, experience in Germany and Austria so far clearly shows that the self-employed model cannot create a secure legal basis in the sector. The carers carry out their professional activity in strong dependence on the persons to be cared for and the agencies. This circumstance, also called bogus self-employment, creates a basis for exploitative conditions against which it is very difficult to take action. Since labour law does not apply at all, there are no effective complaint and control mechanisms. In terms of social rights, caregivers have very little protection: they are not entitled to holiday pay, continued payment of wages in case of illness or 13th and 14th month salaries. In addition, poverty in old age is inevitable due to a very low pension.
Together with the counselling centres in Germany, we have therefore drafted a statement based on findings from our counselling practice. Instead of deregulating the sector by introducing a self-employed model, we plead for an employer model with consistent protection of workers’ rights.
BEMA: Berlin Counselling Centre for Migration and Good Work
Minor Projektkontor für Bildung und Forschung: Project “Migration Counselling 4.0 – Good Work in Germany”.
Catholic Workplace Chaplaincy Ostwürttemberg
Initiative “Respect” of AMOS eG Oberbruch
KAB: Catholic Workers’ Movement Ostalb Region and Diocesan Association Aachen
Foundation Volksverein Mönchengladbach