Inclusion contract – your rights and obligations

Once you have submitted your first application to the Job Center, the first appointment with your employment counselor usually follows quickly. Right at the first meeting you are often presented with a kind of contract: the so-called integration agreement (EGV). These are usually two narrowly printed pages with text that is difficult to understand. Do not sign the EGV right away, but take it home with you.

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What exactly is an integration agreement (EGV)??

The integration agreement (EGV) is a contract concluded with the job center. In this contract, you agree on the duties and services that you and the job center are to provide while you are receiving benefits. Ideally, these are actions that you and the job center will take to ensure your successful re-entry into employment. Once you sign the EGV, it is valid for six months. Revocation is usually not possible.

Exception: change of personal requirements

Your personal conditions change and you are demonstrably no longer able to fulfill the measures agreed upon in the EGV.

The following events can be a reason for a successful revocation:

  • Disability
  • Proven to be impossible for other people to care for children
  • Foreseeable long-term illness due to accident

Basically, if you receive your money from the job center, you will also receive an integration agreement. Depending on your personal situation, the EGV will contain different help from the job center and obligations for you. As a "normal" person on benefits without a job, your EGV will usually contain a fixed number of applications per month that you must write. Typical contents are also measures in which you must participate.

Do I have to sign the integration agreement?

Theoretically, you don’t have to sign an integration agreement. The good thing about the EGV is that it is usually a contract. And contracts are negotiable. Both parties must agree. Even though your employment agency may suggest it: If you do not sign the EGV, the job center may not impose sanctions. The signature is voluntary. And you will receive benefits even without a signed EGV.

Nevertheless, you should think carefully about whether you want to refuse a signature. Because the trick is: If you refuse to sign the EGV, the job center can issue your EGV as an administrative act – and it is then binding and valid immediately after issuance. It can happen, for example, that the job center issues a EGV on Friday, which specifies that you should appear on Monday for a measure. Such action is allowed by law.

So if you don’t want to sign voluntarily, the job center may end up forcing you to do what the EGV says after all. With the offence against the administrative act you threaten then already sanctions.

Note: No EGV without a personal meeting

According to professional instructions § 15 SGB II Abs. 3.1. the basic prerequisite for the conclusion of an EGV is always the personal interview!

The job center can force me to follow the EGV. Then why shouldn’t I just sign?

In theory, you and your employment agent have the same goal: to get you into living-wage work. Nevertheless, there may be things in the EGV that you do not like. Because in practice, your goals and those of your job mediator diverge: you probably want to find a long-term, good job rather than a new one. Your employment agency mainly wants its placement rates to be right. Whether you end up in seasonal work or a measure is sometimes of little interest. That can lead to the fact that things are prescribed to you in your EGV, which do not seem meaningful to you – because they do not help you, but only look good in the job center statistics.

Your signature on the EGV is voluntary, at least formally, and what that means for you is that before you sign, you can negotiate. Talk to your job center representative and try to change requirements that seem unnecessary or excessive to you. Maybe you can achieve that instead of 30 applications per month you only have to write 15 applications, maybe you can convincingly explain that a training for truck drivers will not help you because you are a single father of a small child and therefore cannot drive far away regularly.

Tip: Do not reject your EGV "without a reason

The integration agreement as an administrative act may only be decided if you reject the EGV ‘without reason’. In this case, "without any reason" means that you have said without any ifs and buts that you will not sign this EGV. If you only try to negotiate better conditions with your case worker, this is not considered a groundless refusal.

In addition: In a EGV not only you should have obligations, but also the job center. It should be binding what it wants to do to help you find work. If you want to do a specific training or have a career goal that you want help from the job center to achieve, you should try to have that accommodated in the EGV.

What should be included in an EGV?

An integration agreement should consist exclusively of meaningful measures that facilitate your entry into employment. Use your personal negotiating leeway, which you are legally entitled to when concluding the agreement, and design the measures included as sensibly as possible. Your EGV should:

  • Take your personal situation into account (for example, do you have to care for a child?)
  • contain educational measures that correspond to your skills and interests
  • Require applications that match your job skills and abilities

These are only a few examples of sensible measures in the EGV. As a general rule, any measure should build on skills you already have and competencies you have acquired on the job. If you are in a special situation, your integration agreement will also look different. You can expect the following:

  • Self-employed: The integration agreement accompanies the support services granted as part of the start-up process. Make absolutely sure that the jointly negotiated and agreed measures and goals are demonstrably sensibly oriented towards the overall goal of successfully founding a company.
  • Aufstocker: As a supplementary recipient, you will receive the difference between your income and your individual Hartz 4 rate in addition to the income you have earned yourself. The aim of the integration agreement is to enable you to cover your living expenses without a top-up payment in the future by means of targeted measures.
  • Single parents: The integration agreement is intended to increase your chances of earning your own living in the future, despite your situation as a single parent. Special measures for single parents are possible. Ask for help in finding a childcare place.
  • student: The integration agreement for students should be treated with particular caution. If the student signs the agreement, the signature is not valid. As a parent, you should not sign the agreement under any circumstances.

What should not be included in an EGV?

There may be good reasons not to agree to a job center agreement. This is most obvious if, for example, you are not able to participate in a planned measure at all. In cases like these, it may be worthwhile to file an objection against the integration agreement:

  • You are an experienced secretary with very good computer skills. Now you are supposed to take a beginner’s computer course.
  • You have a disability and are therefore not allowed to sit for long periods of time. Now you are supposed to work at the checkout in the supermarket.
  • You have a three-year-old child and a childcare place from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Your intended measure is on the other side of town, starts at 10 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m.

I work. Why should I conclude an integration agreement??

If you are working, you rightly assume that you do not have to negotiate an integration agreement with the job center. You are obviously already integrated into the labor market. But even though you are working, § 15 SGB II allows in some cases that the job center presents you with an integration agreement. This can happen especially in the following situations:

  • your life partner receives Hartz IV: In the integration agreement, the job center asks you to take action to increase your own income. Then you should be able to fully meet your maintenance obligations to your life partner. In return, you will receive supportive measures according to the EGV. In most cases, the job center points out that your partner’s benefits will be reduced if you do not take the proposed measures.
  • Mini-job and financial benefits from Hartz IV: If you work in a mini-job and receive cash benefits in the form of Hartz IV, the submission of an integration agreement is the rule to raise their income above the limit of financial need.
  • Follow-up after a longer period of unemployment: Even after a successful start to your working life, you may still be presented with an integration agreement by the job center. This is the case when a case worker is of the opinion that, after the need for assistance has ceased, sustained support is required in order to gain a long-term foothold in the labor market.

My EGV was issued as an administrative act. What can I do now?

Even an administrative act has its limits. The content of the unilaterally imposed duties must be appropriate and serve to integrate you into the labor market. An excessive number of blind applications is thereby z.B. inadmissible. Also, 1-Euro jobs may be inadmissible, as they rarely help to be reintegrated into the labor market.

If you already have good application documents, there is no point in forcing you to take part in application training again. The administrative act must therefore – just like the EGV – be tailored to the individual case.

If the administrative act is not appropriate and requires disproportionate measures, you can file an objection against it. If you do this, you should explain exactly why you did not sign the integration agreement. You must make it clear here why the integration agreement is of no use to you or why you cannot take the measure. In any case, you must have a good reason for doing so.

An EGV, which was issued as an administrative act, must contain, for example, an appropriate legal remedy instruction. You should definitely seek advice from specialized lawyers and have the decision checked for errors. After one month, the administrative act is final and the content can no longer be challenged by an objection.

I have lodged an objection against my EGV – What now??

Your case worker has therefore "prescribed" an integration agreement for you and issued an administrative act for this purpose. You can file an objection against it. This also applies to any other administrative act that affects you. In case you object to your EGV, it is important to know: The objection has no suspensive effect. This means in plain language that you have to follow the EGV despite objection or accept sanctions.

Even if you do not follow the EGV for a good reason, you are threatened with sanctions until you are proven right in the appeal procedure and the EGV is cancelled. However, since the sanctions are issued when you do not comply with the EGV, the sanctions are also unlawful if the EGV is unlawful.

Attention: Do not let the objection period expire

You have one month to object to a EGV as an administrative act (VA). If you let the deadline pass, you can only file a request for review according to §44 SGB X, for which the job center has six months to process.

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