Availability (employment promotion law)

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In German social law, availability is an element of the definition of unemployment and thus a prerequisite for entitlement to unemployment benefit , Section 138 (5) SGB III (until March 31, 2012: Section 119 (5) SGB III old version).

In terms of this provision, who is available

  • reasonable employment subject to compulsory insurance under the usual conditions of the labor market in question can and may exercise at least 15 hours per week,
  • Can follow suggestions from the Employment Agency for vocational integration promptly and locally ("accessibility"),
  • is willing to accept and exercise any reasonable job (“willingness to work”) and
  • is willing to take part in measures for professional integration into working life (“willingness to integrate”).

Activity subject to compulsory insurance

Only those who strive for an activity subject to compulsory insurance (§ § 24 ff. SGB III) are entitled to unemployment benefit. This means that anyone who strives to work as a civil servant or judge is excluded as a pupil, student or pensioner. Even those who only want to work part-time in accordance with Section 8 SGB ​​IV (“450.00 € job”, “mini job”) are not considered available.

Reasonable employment

The law regulates in § 140 SGB ​​III (until March 31, 2012: § 121 SGB III old version) in more detail which activities are reasonable.

In principle, an unemployed person can be expected to do all of the jobs that correspond to his / her ability to work , unless there are general or personal reasons to the contrary.

As general reasons for unreasonableness, the law recognizes that the employment violates statutory, collective bargaining or company agreements or provisions of occupational health and safety.

For personal reasons, employment is unreasonable if the remuneration is significantly lower than the previous remuneration. The law provides graduated grandfathering: a reduction of up to 20% in the first three months and up to 30% in the following three months is reasonable. From the seventh month of unemployment onwards, all activities that promise a net income above the unemployment benefit are reasonable.

A disproportionately long daily commute between home and work is also considered a personal reason. The law considers commuting times of up to two hours to be reasonable with working hours of up to six hours. In the case of longer working hours, the limit of reasonableness shifts to a commuting time of two and a half hours. These limits will be expanded when longer commuting times are common among comparable workers in the region.

From the fourth month of unemployment onwards, the unemployed person can reasonably be expected to move, before that if a new job is not expected within the commuting range in the first three months. However, the law recognizes that there may be important reasons against moving, in particular family ties.


The administrative board of the Federal Employment Agency (now the Federal Employment Agency) has issued its own administrative regulation with the accessibility order on the conditions under which the unemployed person can promptly and locally comply with suggestions from the employment agency ("accessibility") .

Willingness to work

Only those who are subjectively willing to take up employment are considered unemployed.

Willingness to integrate

Correspondingly, willingness to integrate, i.e. the willingness to take part in offers of the employment agency for professional integration, is a subjective prerequisite for availability and thus for entitlement to unemployment benefit.

The Federal Employment Agency has the option of not only determining a blocking period, but also generally rejecting the right to unemployment benefit, in the event of a lack of willingness to work or a lack of willingness to integrate.

Special cases of availability

Under the heading Special cases of availability, § 139 SGB ​​III (until March 31, 2012: § 120 SGB III old version) regulates exceptions.

These are regulations for the case that someone does charitable work, complies with legal work requirements, takes part in measures to determine aptitude or training.

Schoolchildren and students are presumed to be able to only pursue insurance-free jobs. This presumption can be refuted if the unemployed person can prove that, despite having studied properly, it is possible to work for at least fifteen hours per week subject to compulsory insurance.

However, this does not apply to the normal case of students, as an entitlement to unemployment benefit is only given if appropriate qualifying periods are proven, § 142 SGB ​​III (until March 31, 2012: § 123 SGB III old version).

Further vocational training measures do not prevent availability if the employment agency has agreed to participate and the unemployed person is ready to cancel the measure at any time.