The special provisions for people with severe disabilities contained in Part 2 of Book IX of the Social Code (Section 68 ff. SGB IX) are designed to compensate for the difficulties faced by people who are disabled. They apply for people who have a severe disability and people whose disability is classified as being equivalent to a severe disability. People with disabilities whose level of disability is between 30 and 50 percent and are unable to find or retain suitable employment as a result can apply to their local employment agency to have their disability classified as being equivalent to a severe disability.
Protection against dismissal, additional paid leave, and representatives for people with severe disabilities
Book IX of the Social Code provides a broad range of integration assistance for people with severe disabilities:
- Payments to employers to promote recruitment and employment of people with severe disabilities.
- Protection against dismissal: The local integration office must give prior approval in cases involving termination of or amendment to an employment relationship.
- One week's additional paid leave for people with severe disabilities (not for people whose disability is classified as equivalent to a severe disability).
- In any company or organisation that employs five or more people with severe disabilities on an ongoing basis, a representative for severely disabled employees must be elected alongside the usual works council representatives.
Work assistance (see Section 33 (8) No. 3, 102 (4) SGB IX) goes beyond an occasional helping hand by providing people with severe disabilities with support on a regular basis in their work at the times and with the tasks where such support is needed. This type of assistance is necessary where it is the only means by which a person with severe disabilities can fulfil job market requirements and competitively perform the duties required under the terms of an employment contract. Examples of work assistance include personal help for people with severe physical disabilities, reading assistants for the blind and people with impaired vision, and sign language interpreters for the deaf.
The costs of work assistance to help people with disabilities enter employment are borne by rehabilitation funds, while such costs incurred for the purpose of maintaining existing employment are the responsibility of integration offices. The assistance is normally administered by integration offices.
When filling vacancies, employers are required to check specifically whether people with severe disabilities currently registered with the employment agency, or people whose disability is classified as equivalent to a severe disability, could be employed in the jobs concerned (Section 81, SGB IX). SGB IX also requires work to be adapted to accommodate a disability. Among other things, this means that people with severe disabilities are entitled to employment in which they can use their skills and knowledge to the fullest possible extent and to be provided in the workplace with all necessary technical aids.
All public and private-sector employers with 20 or more positions are required to employ persons with severe disabilities in at least five percent of them (Section 71 SGB IX).
A compensatory levy must be paid for each mandatory place not assigned to a person with severe disabilities. The levy is scaled according to the number of mandatory places filled. It is designed to incentivise employers to recruit and employ more people with severe disabilities. The funds accrued from the levy are used to cover the costs of services provided by integration offices and employment agencies in the employment of people with severe disabilities.