Domestic helpers are still rarely registered in Germany. The German Economic Institute (IW) came to this conclusion in an analysis published on Saturday. “For years, according to our estimates, the number of household helpers who are not registered and work illegally without insurance or accident insurance protection has been over 90 percent,” says study author Dominik Enste.

For the current estimate, the IW evaluated recently published results from the “Socio-Economic Panel” (SOEP), a representative long-term survey of private households. According to the company’s own information, around 4.3 million households employed help regularly or occasionally in 2021, i.e. around one in ten households. If the reporting households (end of June: 290,000), the employees subject to social security contributions and the self-employed are deducted, there is a gap of a good 3.9 million households, according to IW. In them, “black” cleaning, mowing or help in dealing with everyday life are carried out.

Private individuals often shy away from contracts

Both sides often shy away from registering with the mini-job center, explained Enste. “Even though household helpers often work in the household for many years and a good relationship of trust is built up, households often do not want to enter into contractual obligations.” For many people, a private household is not a place of work like any other. “Continued payment of wages in the event of illness or while the household helper is on vacation is an unusual and unwanted obligation.”

Conversely, according to Enste, it is unattractive for many people to pay social security contributions because they do not receive any additional benefits. They have health insurance through family insurance or are unlikely to be able to achieve a pension above the minimum level. They also shied away from bureaucratic hurdles. “The shadow economy continues to boom in and around private households.”

Domestic helpers often in need of care

The analysis also showed that households in which relatives are cared for are much more likely to employ domestic helpers. While 8.6 percent of households without someone in need of care employ someone, the proportion of households in need of care is 37.4 percent.

“In view of the continued rise in the number of people in need of care and the resulting increasing need for support in everyday life beyond the actual care, simple voucher models should finally be tested in Germany,” demanded the expert in behavioral economics and business ethics. In such models, the state provides stronger incentives for people to register for help through subsidies. According to Enste, such models could help in a targeted and efficient manner.