Those who receive basic security must also fulfill obligations under the law. If you do not follow this, dimensional regulations are permissible. This is in paragraph 31 of the Second Social Code (SGB II), which forms the legal basis for the sanctions. Examples include benefit reductions, such as refusing to accept a reasonable job, or failing to take or cancel a work induction scheme. Also, cuts are possible if you can not prove that you have "sufficient" effort to find a new job.

It does not define what is considered "sufficient". As a rule, sanctions are imposed for three months. The duration can be shortened if the person concerned subsequently fulfills the obligations. If benefits are cut, many are in need. The job center can then grant benefits in kind or food vouchers. Whether it does that is discretionary.

Legislators make a distinction with young Hartz IV recipients: while benefit reductions for people over the age of 25 are in stages – only 30 percent are canceled, and 60 percent of regular rates are canceled – people under the age of 25 are already threatened first violation 100 percent sanctions. The statistics also show that the younger ones are punished more frequently and harder, almost every second total sanctioning affects a person under 25 years old. Often, the job center then only covers the costs of accommodation and heating, and the job center can even decide not to reimburse even the housing and heating costs.

Actually, the legislature wanted to ensure with this hardness that young people do not slip into a life in long-term unemployment, therefore, the obligation to mediate with them is particularly high. This is also the case in Clause 3 (2) of SGB II. A study by the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) shows that under-25s are in fact being taught faster, but hard sanctions often leave emotional consequences and lead to that young people become homeless faster. Critics argue that the harsher sanctions for younger people are likely to be unconstitutional, as discrimination based on age is discriminatory.

Most recently, the job centers have imposed fewer sanctions than in previous years. The sanction rate – ie the ratio of sanctions imposed to all employable beneficiaries – is 3.1 percent. In 2017, 957,000 sanctions were imposed and the figures for 2018 have not yet been published.

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