The legal minimum wage from 01.01.2019 is € 9,19 per hour. What impact does this have on workers?
As early as 2015, a statutory minimum wage of € 8.50 per hour was introduced in Germany, which was increased to € 8.84 per hour in 2017.
On 31.10.2018, the Federal Cabinet approved an ordinance of the Federal Minister of Labour according to which the minimum wage will be raised to € 9.19 per hour from 01.01.2019.
According to the law regulating a general minimum wage (Minimum Wage Act – MiLoG), every employee is entitled to payment of a wage at least equal to the minimum wage by the employer. This entitlement exists irrespective of whether the employer is domiciled in Germany or abroad, as long as the employee is employed in Germany.
In principle, all employees are entitled to this right to a minimum wage. There are only exceptions, for example, for certain traineeships or in connection with the integration of the long-term unemployed.
According to the statutory provisions, the minimum wage is to be paid on the last bank working day of the month following the month in which the work was performed at the latest.
Although the MiLoG regulations are relatively simple, many employees do not receive the minimum wage even after it has been introduced.
As reported by Zeit-online on 31.10.2018, 800,000 people in Germany earned less than the minimum wage in 2017, even though they basically fell under the minimum wage law.
The fines provided for in the law and the so-called „Financial Control of Undeclared Work“ obviously do not prevent many employers from paying their employees less than they are entitled to.
Employees who earn less than the minimum wage are therefore advised to seek legal assistance. Nor does any provision in the employment contract which undercuts the minimum wage or limits or excludes its enforcement prevent the employees concerned from doing so. Such agreements are generally ineffective.
Although the statutory provisions of MiLoG stipulate that the minimum wage entitlement is secured before any preclusion periods under the employment contract or any waivers, it is nevertheless subject to the statute of limitations.
However, the limitation period for claims to overdue wages is three years from the end of the year in which the claim to wages arose.
Employees who currently or in the past have received less than the minimum wage should therefore seek legal advice. In this case, there is a good chance that the underpaid wage can still be claimed for a period over the last three years.
All information about the minimum wage in Germany can be found on our overview page.