This article provides an analysis of regulatory approaches to sex work, the status of sex workers’ labour rights, and the conflation of sex work and human trafficking, with reference to the example of Germany. It assesses the strengths and weaknesses of Germany’s approach to the regulation of prostitution and the ways it has been influenced by international debates challenging the status of sex work as work, as well as concerns about human trafficking. It analyses the Prostitution Act 2002 (ProstG), and the Prostitute Protection Act 2017 (ProstSchG), and their effects on the rights and working conditions of sex workers, as well as their aim of improving the safety of vulnerable sex workers and reducing the level of human trafficking and exploitation in the German sex industry. In particular, the article considers the impact of this legislation on those working in the sex industry, especially migrant women and those at risk of exploitation. Through its analysis of the existing approach to sex work in Germany, the direction of reform and the absence of a labour-rights approach to the regulation of sex work and the prevention of trafficking, the article highlights the fact that even a country that is -in principle - willing to accept sex work as work, has failed to grant labour rights to sex workers. The article argues that the Prostitute Protection Act has in some ways increased the vulnerability of sex workers rather than promoting their safety. In addition, it is argued that legislators should consider labour protection and labour rights as an alternative means of protecting sex workers, rather than (re)criminalizing aspects of sex work in the name of ‘protecting’ women by means of prohibition or control. Adopting a labour-rights approach rather than paternalistic approach would have the potential to bring about far-reaching reform of the relevant legislation both in Germany and internationally.