Legal status of people with disabilities in sheltered workshops 06.03.23
In Germany, people with disabilities in sheltered workshops are not employees but have an employee-like status, which grants them all the rights of an employee but not the duties. Therefore, workshop users don’t receive a wage but a remuneration. The average remuneration on federal level is about € 212 per month.

Additionally, people with disabilities receive financial support from the state for their livelihood, such as residential and care allowances, and basic security benefits to secure the subsistence level. The remuneration is credited against the basic security benefits, if it exceeds a certain amount.

It is estimated that, including the remuneration from the sheltered workshop, a workshop user has a net income of around € 1.119 per month, depending on the individual case. This does not include financial support for additional medical rehabilitation from health insurance, if needed, and costs for accommodation and heating. On the other hand, workers who obtain minimum wage have a net income of about € 1.345. Because the minimum wage is so low in Germany, they also often have to top up their income by government welfare aid such as housing allowance.

As soon as a workshop user has been working in a sheltered workshop for a total of twenty years, he or she is entitled to a so-called work incapacity pension. The pension is calculated on the basis of 80 % of the average income in Germany.

It is then – depending on how long the person has been working in a sheltered workshop, which corresponds to the period during which the premiums have been paid – usually higher than the retirement pension of a German average worker. However, as long as the workshop user has not reached retirement age, many factors (e.g. the housing situation, assistance need, other financial assets, etc.) determine whether the work incapacity pension is sufficient or if the person still needs additional financial support.

Altogether it can be said, that during their working life many workshop users have funds that are approximately equal to the minimum wage. The problem is, however, that the system is very complex, which is why BAG WfbM is calling for a simplification of the payment system.

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Who we are
Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Werkstätten für behinderte Menschen e. V. (BAG WfbM) is the political representative of sheltered workshops in Germany. We represent 93 % of all German workshops. All public welfare organisations and religious denominations work jointly in our organisation.

Our task is to give expert advice on questions related to employment, vocational training, financing and legal issues. Additionally, we are actively involved in the legislation process. BAG WfbM promotes for the participation of persons with disabilities in working life.
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