Germany Decides Online Sex Workers Have Rights By REUTERS

ASSEL, Germany View website -- A German court ruled on Thursday that people paid to talk dirty in the Internets swelling number of sex chatrooms should enjoy the same rights as other workers, regardless of whether their job is immoral.



The court rejected claims by a north German firm offering live online sex chats that the immorality of the work done by its staff should exempt the company from having to pay social security contributions for them.

A judge ruled that the morality of online sex services, which mostly employ women to meet a seemingly insatiable and largely male appetite for impersonal stimulation, was irrelevant and decided staff should be treated as they would in other jobs.

The company, which was not named in the hearing, is now liable for more than one million marks ($461,900) to cover contributions for staff it said were self-employed freelancers, but who the court decided were employees.

Workers were paid according to the frequency and length of their one-to-one erotic conversations, which the firm launched in the mid-1990s over a computerized teletext system that was a predecessor to the Internet in Germany.

Even mainstream Internet portals in Germany, where topless women are a nightly Homepage fixture on national television, are awash with links to subscription-based Web sites promising such delights as ``live chats with hundreds of the hottest girls.

Since most firms who run these sites -- along with countless premium-rate telephone sex lines offering similar services minus the accompanying porn pictures -- employ staff on a similar freelance basis, Thursdays ruling could spawn new claims.


Social security contributions in Germany are equivalent to about 41 percent of gross pay, though the center-left government has pledged to cut this back as part of a drive to make German job markets more flexible and the economy more competitive.