Blocking periods when receiving unemployment benefitsThe employment agency can cancel the unemployment benefits of an unemployed person. We explain here in which cases this is justified and how to protect oneself against it.
Blocking periods for unemployment benefits can be avoided.
The principle for blocking periods is: "If the employee has behaved in an uninsurable manner without having an important reason for doing so, the claim is suspended for the duration of the blocking period (Section 159 Para. 1 Social Security Code Volume III). This means that every employee. Every employee has various duties. Anyone who violates these obligations without having an important reason for doing so will not receive unemployment benefits – for a certain period of time.
Contributions to health and long-term care insurance as well as pension insurance are still paid. The duration of the unemployment benefit is then reduced by the blocking period. The law lists several possibilities for which a blocking period can be imposed:
1. Blocking period in the event of quitting work, § 159 para. 1 no. 1 SGB II
Such a blocking period can be imposed if the employee himself or herself has terminated the employment relationship – for example, by giving notice of termination or by concluding a termination agreement – or if he or she has caused the unemployment situation himself or herself by "conduct contrary to the employment contract".
1.1. Termination by the employee himself or herself or termination agreement
No employee is obliged to work for the same employer for the rest of his or her life, so he or she can always give notice or conclude a termination agreement. Whoever does this, however, should consider it carefully.
It is therefore advisable to only conclude a termination agreement or give notice of termination when the employee already has a new job, so that he or she can start a new employment relationship without interruption if possible.
Anyone who has to give up his or her job for health reasons should obtain a medical certificate stating that he or she can no longer reasonably be expected to do the work in question for health reasons. Then there is an "important reason" for the self-termination or the termination agreement. And thus a blocking period can be prevented.
1.2. Behavior contrary to the employment contract
In this case, the dismissals without notice are to be mentioned in particular, as z.B. by stealing the famous silver spoon. If you receive a notice of termination from your employer in due time, you usually do not have to fear a blocking period. However, anyone who receives a termination without notice (also called "extraordinary") must automatically expect a blocking period for unemployment benefits.
This is a frequent case in practice. Lawsuits are often filed with the primary goal of having a termination without notice reinterpreted as an ordinary termination. Although there is usually no protection against dismissal in small companies or during the probationary period, there is no protection against dismissal. But even in such cases, the employer must prove that it was unreasonable to expect him to observe the ordinary notice period.
If the court then determines that a termination without notice must be reinterpreted as a termination with notice, the blocking period for unemployment benefits can usually be averted. If you do not take legal action against your employer, you can still explain to the employment agency why the termination without notice was unlawful. Because the employment agency cannot oblige an unemployed person to file a lawsuit against his or her old employer – to do so, the agency would have to bear the costs of the lawsuit. However, it then becomes more difficult to convince the employment agency of the illegality of the termination without notice.
2. Blocking period in the event of refusal of employment, § 159 para. 1 no. 2 SGB III
If an unemployed person does not accept an offer of employment, or if he or she prevents the initiation of such an employment relationship, in particular the holding of an interview, the employment agency can also impose a blocking period.
The employees of the employment agency should send so-called "placement proposals" to each unemployed person. These then contain the obligation to apply for these jobs.
An unemployed person does not have to apply for the job if it is "unreasonable". For example, if the unemployed person does not have the necessary qualifications, cannot do the job for health reasons, cannot move for family reasons (bspw. (e.g., when caring for relatives), or the salary would be lower than the unemployment benefit (note: this list is not exhaustive)!) Whether someone finds the job as a garbage collector, cleaner or sewer worker unreasonable is irrelevant.
Also an important topic: behavior at job interviews. Those who are late for their job interviews, do not wash beforehand or behave in a snotty manner towards their potential employer must also reckon with a blocking period. Employers are also required to provide the employment agency with feedback on the applicant. So if you intentionally screw up a job interview, you have a problem here.
Similarly with written applications: Anyone who formulates written applications in such a way that he or she will not be taken on can run into problems.
3. Blocking period in case of insufficient own efforts, § 159 para. 1 No. 3 SGB III
Those who receive unemployment benefits must try to find a job and prove this to the employment agency. That means: writing job applications. Attend job interviews.
Of course it costs money. But every unemployed person has a "placement budget" of 260,00 € per year at his/her disposal, and these costs will be reimbursed by the employment agency. The details must be discussed with the responsible employee of the employment agency.
Anyone who is out of practice with writing job applications or has never written one before should also mention this to the employment agency. These offer courses to train this.
4. Refusal of a vocational integration measure, § 159 para. 1 No. 4 SGB III
Anyone who refuses to participate in a measure "for activation and professional integration" or a "measure for participation in working life" can have a blocking period imposed on them.
These measures are training courses for job interviews or similar.
Here too, a blocking period is not imposed if the unemployed person has an important reason for not taking part. Here, for example, health reasons would be mentioned again.
Or the travel times to such a measure would be extremely long. However, this depends on the individual case. Should be discussed before the start of a measure…
5. Termination of a vocational integration measure, § 159 para. No. 5
This regulation also applies if an unemployed person initially starts such a measure, but then drops out again or gives cause for exclusion from this measure due to "behavior contrary to the measure. This could be, for example, being late too often, drunkenness during the measure, fights with other participants, etc.
Again, an unemployed person may only discontinue the measure if there are important reasons for doing so, such as health reasons. These should then be certified by a doctor. And, of course, such a measure may be discontinued if someone takes up a job.
6. Blocking period in the event of failure to report, § 159 para. 1 no. 6 SGB III
Anyone who applies for unemployment benefits will at some point receive notification to present themselves at the employment agency on a certain date. Such appointments should be kept at all costs! Whoever misses an appointment without sufficient excuse (e.g. illness, this would also have to be proven), must reckon with a blocking period.
The employment agency can also order someone to undergo a medical or psychological examination. There are several reasons for this:
The employment agency may only oblige an unemployed person to apply for a job that he or she can actually do for health reasons. There is also the question of whether someone is only ill for a short time or for a long time. If you are ill for a longer period of time, you are "not available to the labor market", which means that your entitlement to unemployment benefits is suspended for a longer period of time. Then a claim for sickness benefit comes into consideration if necessary. The receipt of unemployment benefits would be extended accordingly. By the way, doctors are subject to. The psychologists of the employment agency also of the duty of confidentiality. The employment agency is only informed about what is relevant for finding a job, i.e. whether someone is able to lift and carry weights of 10kg or more. The employment agency is not informed about the complete medical history.
Most investigations are carried out on the basis of files. This means that the medical service of the employment agency obtains reports of findings from the doctors of the unemployed person – provided that the unemployed person has given his or her consent.
Otherwise, if you are unable to keep an appointment and you know in advance that you will be unable to keep it, you should call the employment agency or the medical service and ask them to reschedule the appointment.
7. late job-seeker notification, § 38 para. 1 SGB III
People whose employment or training relationship is coming to an end must register with the employment agency at least three months before the end of the relationship.
In practice, this is a fairly common case: a trainee ames that he or she will be taken on by the company at the end of his or her training. Or an employee with a fixed-term contract ames that the contract will be extended. But then this does not happen, and unemployment benefits must be applied for. Anyone who has not registered with the employment agency at least three months in advance will be subject to a blocking period.
Important: Even if the employer has held out the prospect of continuing the employment relationship, the person concerned must report in beforehand. In this provision of § 38 para. 1 SGB III this is expressly clarified. The argument that the employer has expressly agreed to extend the contract does not stand a chance with the employment agency.
Practical tip: Anyone with a fixed-term employment contract or training relationship should make a note in their calendar that they must notify the employment agency in good time. If you fail to do so, you can expect a blocking period.
In all other cases, the following applies (i.e. in the case of a dismissal or something else): Report to the responsible employment agency no later than 3 days after becoming aware of it, and do so in person. So go there yourself. Bring the letter of dismissal with you. Then you should still take an identity card or something similar to confirm your identity.
Duration of the blocking periods:
The duration of the blocking periods depends on the reason for which they were imposed.
In case of termination of employment: 12 weeks. This is shortened to 6 weeks if the working relationship would have ended within 12 weeks anyway, and shortened to 3 weeks if the working relationship would have ended within 6 weeks anyway. It is also possible to reduce the blocking period from 12 weeks to 6 weeks if this would mean "particular hardship" for the unemployed person. This is then a decision on a case-by-case basis.
In case of termination or rejection of a measure or a job offer: This is staggered. 3 weeks for the first time, 6 weeks for the second time, 12 weeks from the third time onwards.
– In the event of insufficient personal efforts: 2 weeks – In the event of failure to register or late registration as a job seeker: 1 week
If you follow a few simple rules, you need not fear the imposition of a blocking period.
Who then but still a blocking period was imposed, should seek legal advice and apply for safety unemployment benefit II (Hartz IV) to bridge the blocking period financially.
Please also read our other articles on this subject:
§ 159 SGB III
§ Section 159 SGB III Suspension in the event of a blocking period (1) If the employee has behaved in an uninsurable manner without having an important reason for doing so, the claim shall be suspended for the duration of a blocking period. Uninsurable conduct is deemed to have occurred if
1. the unemployed person has terminated the employment relationship or has given cause for the termination of the employment relationship by conduct contrary to the terms of the employment contract and has thereby intentionally or grossly negligently caused the unemployment (blocking period in the case of termination of employment),
2. the person registered with the Employment Agency as a job seeker (Section 38 (1)) or the unemployed person, despite having been informed of the legal consequences, does not accept or does not take up employment offered by the Employment Agency naming the employer and the type of activity, or prevents the initiation of such employment, in particular the holding of an interview, through his or her conduct (blocking period in the event of refusal of employment), 3. the unemployed person, despite being informed of the legal consequences, fails to prove that he or she has made the personal efforts required by the Employment Agency (blocking period in the case of insufficient personal efforts), 4. the unemployed person refuses to participate in a measure for activation and vocational integration (Section 45) or a measure for vocational training or further training or a measure for participation in working life despite being informed of the legal consequences (blocking period in the case of refusal of a vocational integration measure), 5. the unemployed person discontinues participation in a measure referred to in No. 4 or gives cause for exclusion from one of these measures by conduct contrary to the measure (blocking period in the event of discontinuation of a vocational integration measure), 6. the unemployed person does not comply or has not complied with a request by the Employment Agency to report to work or to appear for a medical or psychological examination (Section 309), despite having been informed of the legal consequences (blocking period for failure to report), 7. The unemployed person has not complied with the obligation to register in accordance with Section 38 (1) (blocking period in the event of late registration as a job seeker). The person who has behaved in an uninsurable manner must present and prove the facts that are decisive for the assessment of an important reason, if these facts lie in his or her sphere or area of responsibility.
(2) The blocking period shall commence on the day following the event giving rise to the blocking period or, if this day falls during a blocking period, at the end of this blocking period. If several blocking periods are justified by the same event, they shall follow each other in the order of subsection (1) sentence 2 numbers 1 to 7.
(3) The duration of the blocking period in the event of the employee giving up work is twelve weeks. It shortens 1. to three weeks if the employment relationship would have ended within six weeks of the event giving rise to the blocking period without a blocking period, 2. to six weeks if a) the employment relationship would have ended within twelve weeks of the event giving rise to the suspension period without a suspension period, or b) a suspension period of twelve weeks would cause particular hardship to the unemployed person under the facts relevant to the occurrence of the suspension period.
(4) The duration of the blocking period in case of refusal of work, refusal of a vocational integration measure or termination of a vocational integration measure is 1. In the case of the first time of this type of uninsurable behavior, three weeks, 2. in the case of the second uninsurable behavior of this type six weeks, 3. in the remaining cases twelve weeks. In the case of refusal of work or refusal of a vocational integration measure after notification for early job search (§ 38 paragraph 1) in connection with the emergence of the claim, sentence 1 applies accordingly.