Germany: Some Employers Try to Evade Minimum Wage, Union Board Member Says

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By Andrea Barbara Schuessler

Feb. 26—Approximately 3.7 million German employees became eligible for the nationwide hourly minimum wage of 8.50 euros ($9.50) Jan. 1, but not all employers are honoring this new obligation, according to Stefan Koerzell, member of the Federal Board of the German Confederation of Trade Unions.

Some employers, for example, have cut shift allowances, eliminated the Christmas bonus or reduced work hours to offset the effects of the minimum wage, Koerzell said in a Feb. 18 statement published on the union's website.

This could be a dangerous strategy, since employers risk fines of up to 500,000 euros ($560,000) for attempting to evade the minimum wage requirement, and affected employees can sue their employers up to three years after the event. The staff of the Tax Enforcement Unit for Undeclared Work has been increased by 1,600 to monitor employer compliance, and approximately 400 employees are calling the German Confederation of Trade Unions' minimum wage hotline every day to inquire about the minimum wage.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Barbara Schuessler in Berlin at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

The full text of the minimum wage law is available in German at http://www.bgbl.de/banzxaver/bgbl/start.xav?startbk=Bundesanzeiger_BGBl#__bgbl__%2F%2F*%5B%40attr_id%3D%27bgbl114s1348.pdf%27%5D__1424282222921, additional information in English at

http://www.dgb.de/themen/++co++4ea17b70-ab01-11e4-b17d-52540023ef1a.

For more information on German HR law and regulation, see the Germany primer.