Job centres discriminate against non-German speakers, study confirms

Job centres discriminate against non-German speakers, study confirms

A study by the German Centre for Integration and Migration Research (DeZIM) has found that job centres (Jobcenters) in Germany are unlawfully discriminating against non-German speakers and EU citizens.

German job centres discriminate against EU citizens

A study by the German Centre for Integration and Migration Research has found that job centres in Germany have been unlawfully discriminating against non-German speakers who are EU citizens. Under EU law, citizens of member countries should have equal access to the German job market as those who hold a German passport.

According to the study, whether they be "low-skilled" or "high-skilled workers", non-German EU citizens who have lost their job and are applying for unemployment benefits often have their applications rejected. Dr Nora Ratzmann, an academic who conducted the research, has suggested that the discrimination is likely a consequence of the people who work in German unemployment offices being overworked and understaffed. “Often there is not an intention of discrimination against EU citizens when they are disadvantaged,” Ratzmann told the German publication, MiGAZIN.

For her research, Ratzmann conducted 103 interviews with people from EU countries who have lived in Germany since 2004. Having spoken to job centre and social counselling centre employees Ratzmann concluded that, because non-German EU citizens often have more complex cases when it comes to claiming social security benefits, “the circumstances under which [these employees] work can lead to discrimination of EU citizens.”

Job centre employees will only speak German

The DeZIM published study also revealed that many job centre employees will communicate exclusively in German, meaning that applicants who do not speak sufficient German to support themselves in the often overwhelming interactions with the job centre are likely to be discriminated against. 

Ratzmann’s study points out that this undermines the fundamental principle of the German social security system of treating applicants equally, if applications are directly or indirectly rejected because of their level of speaking German.

Under these circumstances applicants are likely to seek help from family members or friends. But few know that there are social counselling centres available to guide them through the process, leaving all non-German applicants further disadvantaged. “Migrants from EU countries should be better informed about their rights, responsibilities and the particulars of German bureaucracy,” Dr Sabrina Zajak of the DeZIM institute told MiGAZIN.

Of course, stretched staff working conditions and a reluctance to reform job centre processes don’t just disadvantage EU applicants, but all non-German people who interact with the services in their adopted home country.

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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PepeFlores2 11:42 | 17 December 2022

Very interesting. So how can we contact those social counselling centres mentioned in the article?

AlisonCuff2 14:17 | 22 December 2022

So why is the study concentrating only on EU citizens? Is it only EU citizens that dont deserve to be discriminated against?