German job centre questionnaire: intrusive, offensive and illegal

A job centre in Germany had single mothers fill out the above sheet before it helped them with any kind of public assistance. The questionnaire asks who the father is, presumably so that he can be hit up for child support before the public-welfare authorities step in to support the woman and her child(ren). Sounds reasonable? Not quite. For one thing, the questions are downright privacy-invading:

The job centre wanted to know it all exactly: first and last names and birth dates of the sexual partners of a pregnant welfare recipient. If she couldn’t provide those, she had to explain why in detail, according to the form.

Background: The job centre has to step in for family support in cases where one parent isn’t paying. The employees of the job centre in this case wanted to prevent that altogether.

The woman in question turned to Bremen attorney Jan Strasmann, who published the form on his office’s website. According to Strasmann, his client is pregnant and doesn’t know who the father is. “The questionnaire violates my client’s privacy rights,” he says. In addition, the job centre isn’t even required to determine who the father of the child is, but rather the youth authority.

Strasmann says his client received the letter in late August. Since she did not fill out the questionnaire, the job centre halted payments. The woman got no money in September; in her case, it is 700 euros.

The form unleashed outrage on social media. In the meantime, the job centre has responded and apologized. The questionnaire is unacceptable, says Friedhelm Keiser, the job centre’s office head.

“I am shocked that such a questionnaire has even left this building,” says Keiser. He apologized to the client; he has also seen to it that this form is never used again. An employee came up with it on his own, and used questions that only the youth authority may ask in order to pursue delinquent fathers.

Meanwhile, the employee in question has become aware of the effects of what he did. He regrets it greatly. According to a press release, the job centre asks about fathers in cases of family support. The mother doesn’t have to name him. Further questions may not be asked by job centres.

As of September, the job centre has restored payments after the woman revealed her situation in a tearful personal conversation, according to her attorney.

Translation mine.

So you can see what happens when the state starts trying to cut corners wherever it can, and lay responsibility on individuals for everything, even circumstances beyond an individual’s control. You get, in short, a panty-sniffing shitshow, complete with misogyny and slut-shaming.

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