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IMMIGRATION

Germany puts refugees to work … for one euro

The one-euro job scheme aims to help newcomers into the job market. But is it effective?

Germany puts refugees to work ... for one euro
File photo of refugees serving food at emergency accommodation. Photo: Britta Pederson/picture alliance/DPA

With a spoon and spatula in hand, Zaid, a 23-year-old Iraqi refugee, lifts the lid on a large pot filled with goulash and potatoes as he begins his shift.

From 6:30 to 8 pm, he is employed by the city of Berlin to dish out dinner to 152 other Syrian, Iraqi, Afghan and Moldovan refugees in a sports hall, which had been turned into an emergency shelter for the newcomers.

Zaid is one of thousands of refugees who have taken on tasks ranging from repairing bicycles to pruning plants to cleaning sidewalks for pay of just over one euro ($1.1) an hour.

The so-called “one-euro jobs” have been touted as a springboard for the newcomers into Germany's job market, but experts remain unconvinced of their effectiveness.

At the sports gym, Zaid tries to explain to the sceptical faces crowded in front of him what went into the beef stew that he described as “so German”.

For the work – which includes setting the table, cutting bread, serving food and then cleaning up – he is paid 1.05 euros an hour. Restricted to working no more than 20 hours a week, Zaid gets a monthly income of 84 euros at best, a small extra on top of the 143 euros he receives as pocket money while he waits for the official decision on his asylum application.

His monthly intake may be a tiny fraction of an average German wage, but Zaid takes on his job with a big smile.

“It allows me to have contact with the German volunteers who come here to distribute meals, and gives me a chance to speak the language,” said Zaid who fled the city of Hilla, about 100 kilometres (62 miles) south of Baghdad, along with his father and sister six months ago.

“And I don't have to stand around in the centre not knowing what to do,” he said.

'Subsidizing exclusion?'

With authorities often taking weeks, if not months, to process asylum applications, many refugees are bored out of their minds as they are not allowed to take on regular employment during that time. To get around the problem, authorities have decided to make use of the one-euro job solution.

Conceived a decade ago with the aim of nudging the long-term unemployed back to work, it is now being used to help integrate a record influx of refugees, which topped 1.1 million last year.

The city of Berlin currently employs 3,925 refugees who are lodged in 75 centres, and wants to widen the offer to associations that offer public service such as charities helping the homeless or rehabilitative shelters for alcoholics.

In Bavaria, the main gateway for thousands of refugees in southern Germany, 9,000 refugees have taken up such jobs.

The city of Hanover also offers newcomers the possibility of working in bicycle repair, or sorting donated clothes, or accompanying kindergarten children in exchange for German language classes.

Labour Minister Andrea Nahles has promised to create 100,000 such posts for refugees, describing them as a “trampoline” into the job market.

“In the short term, it makes sense because the refugees can't otherwise work,” Ronald Bachmann, economist at the RWI institute told AFP.

“Having them at work also sends a good political signal,” he said, as anti-migrant populism surges in tandem with Germany's record refugee influx.

Nevertheless, Bachmann noted that the one-euro jobs had not proven particularly successful in their original task of getting the long-term unemployed back to work.

“It was very, very rare that they helped to bring them back to a job market as one learns very little from such jobs,” said Bachmann.

The head of the German Federation of Unions, Reiner Hoffmann, also spoke out against placing refugees in such jobs as he believed that Germany needs a far more ambitious programme to integrate the newcomers into the economy.

Holger Schaefer, an expert in the job market at IW institute, similarly had harsh words for the programme, saying “we are in fact subsidizing the exclusion of refugees from the job market”.

In any case, Zaid has no intention of pursuing his budding career in the restaurant business. He has just signed up for a class in a Berlin high school which should help him to resume his studies in IT, which had been abruptly halted in Iraq.

For members

RESIDENCY PERMITS

What to do if you lose your residence permit in Germany

Third-country nationals with the right to live and work in Germany are generally issued a residence permit in their passport or in the form of an ID card. But what do you if you happen to lose this vital document - or if it gets stolen? Here's a step-by-step guide.

What to do if you lose your residence permit in Germany

Losing an important document can be a nightmare scenario for foreigners in Germany – especially if it’s the one you rely on to live and work in the country. So if you search for your residence permit one day and suddenly realise it’s missing, you may feel the urge to panic. 

Luckily, there’s a process to follow to get a replacement and ensure nobody else can misuse your residence permit in the meantime. This being Germany, it may take a little time, but rest assured you will be able to replace the document. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

Different types of permit

If you’re a non-EU national in Germany, you’re likely to have one of two documents proving your rights and status in the country: 

  • a residence permit that’s placed on a page in your passport (Zusatzblatt zum Aufenthaltstitel), or
  • an electronic ID, or eID, card (electronischer Aufenthaltstitel) for permanent residents. 

Some third-country nationals who’ve been in Germany for less than five years on a visa will have their residence permit in their passport, while others will have been issued an eID card. Permanent residents will generally have an eID card. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to prove you’re a resident in Germany

Brits who lived in Germany before the Brexit cut-off date are likely to have a special type of electronic ID card known as an Aufenthaltstitel-GB. This looks pretty similar to a permanent residence card and basically signifies that the holder is entitled to the same rights as EU citizens living in Germany. 

You’ll need to do things slightly differently depending on which type of residence permit you have, so we’ll cover each in turn. 

In either case, if you suspect you’ve been a victim of theft, it’s a good idea to file a police report so they can be on the lookout for any potential fraud. 

What to do you if you lose your electronic ID card

1. Call the cancellation hotline 

If you’ve mislaid your eID card or it’s been stolen, the first thing to do is call up a national hotline on 01801 33 33 33 and put a block on the card.

To do this, you’ll need to have your Sperrkennwort (blocking passport) handy. The way you’ll have received this can differ from state to state, but usually it is sent out in a letter along with the PIN and PUK for your electronic ID card around the time that the eID was issued. 

This will block anyone from using your eID function. If you find your card again, you can unblock it by visiting the Ausländerbehörde. 

If you haven’t activated the eID function or happen to have mislaid your blocking password as well, then move straight to the second step below. 

READ ALSO: What is Germany’s electronic ID card and how do you use it?

2. Get in touch with the Ausländerbehörde (Foreigner’s Office)

Once you’ve put a block on your card, you’ll need to get in touch with the Ausländerbehörde to let them know what’s happened and arrange a replacement card.

You can do this via email or telephone but may also have to book an in-person appointment if they need to see certain documents for issuing the replacement. If you need to block the eID function and don’t have your Sperrkennwort, you’ll need to take your passport to the Ausländerbehörde to do this.

Bear in mind that you won’t get your new ID card straight away. Depending on the state, it can take a up to three months to be issued. You’ll also need to pay a fee for the replacement card, which can vary from state to state and is normally paid with cash or EC card at the Ausländerbehörde. 

Also, once an order for a new card has been sent off, you’ll no longer be able to reactivate your old card should you find it again. 

Ausländerbehörde Berlin

People go in and out of the Ausländerbehörde in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance / Kay Nietfeld/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

What to do if you lose your passport and visa 

1. Order a new passport 

It probably goes without saying, but if you lose your passport with your residence permit in it, the first thing you’ll need to do is get hold of a new passport. This should be done via the government of your home country. 

2. Book an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde

Once you’ve got your new passport, make an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde to get a replacement printed out. If you’re unsure what documentation to bring with you to the appointment, check on their website or send them an email beforehand.

Once again, you’ll need to pay a fee for the replacement, which is normally done on-site with cash or an EC card. 

What if I’m travelling out of the country soon? 

If you’re leaving Germany and don’t have time to get a replacement eID card or residence permit, contact the Ausländerbehörde straight away. They should be able to assist you with emergency proof of residence, which is normally done in the form of a Fiktionsbescheinigung (a certificate confirming your status and rights before the official proof has been issued).

Obviously, if you’ve lost your passport, your first port of call will be your home country’s embassy, who can normally issue emergency travel documents within a matter of days. 

For Brits covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, bringing other proof of residence in Germany such as your registration (Anmeldung) with you or a work contract should suffice to avoid getting a stamp in your passport when you re-enter. But even if you do, it won’t affect your rights.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that there are no hard borders in Schengen, so if you’re travelling around the EU, you’ll generally be fine without your visa. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: How can I re-enter Germany without my post-Brexit residence card?

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