A minimum wage (Mindestlohn) has already existed in many European countries for quite a while. Despite this, its introduction in Germany only happened very recently. In 2015, negotiations between the CDU, CSU and SPD saw a minimum wage of €8.50 introduced to Germany in accordance with the Act Regulating a General Minimum Wage. Over the following years, it increased gradually. Right now, it is 9.19 EUR per hour. As of 1 January 2020, it will increase to €9.35 per hour. Some industries have been given a transition period before becoming compliant.
By law, the minimum wage must be reviewed every two years. Any adjustments to it are determined by an independent committee (the Mindestlohnkommission). According to the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the decision about minimum wage is made with employee protection and fair competition in mind. Good news for lots of people, but like most laws there are exceptions.
So, who are the lucky ones?
You are entitled to a minimum wage if you are above 18 and in
- part-time employment
- full-time employment
- a minijob (max. 12 hours per week)
- an internship (if you have a degree or training).
Who misses out?
Of course, there are exceptions and not everyone is eligible for a minimum wage. Excluded are
- freelancers and self-employed people
- interns (if the intern has not completed a degree programme/training or they are in the course of studying)
- voluntary internships lasting fewer than 3 months
- compulsory internships during studies
- volunteer work
- people under 18 who have not yet completed vocational training
- home workers in accordance with the Home Work Act
- long-term unemployed people (Langzeitarbeitslose) – they are not eligible for minimum wage within the first 6 months of returning to work. This is to encourage companies to employ people who have been out of work for a long time.
The Financial Control of Illicit Employment (Finanzkontrolle Schwarzarbeit) controls minimum wage regulations. Their staff numbers increased when the new law came into effect to deal with violations. If you have information or concerns about violations regarding the minimum wage regulations you can contact the Mindestlohn-Hotline on 030 60 28 00 28.
If your German isn’t too bad, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales) has a helpful tool to get your head around minimum wage.
Now that you know your rights, make sure you are being paid correctly! In the meantime, if you need any help to understand your payslips or to communicate with your employer or other offices, get in touch with one of our expert coaches.