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Minimum wage after 100 days: the verdict

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Minimum wage after 100 days: the verdict
The magic number: €8.50 - Germany's new national minimum wage. Photo: DPA
09:59 CEST+02:00
Friday marks 100 days since the introduction of the national minimum wage in Germany, but politicians, economists and trade unions continue to debate the scheme.

Labour Minister Andrea Nahles lauded the achievements of the new minimum wage, which has been set at  €8.50 per hour, on Thursday.

"The minimum wage hasn’t brought about any considerable loss of jobs or price increases. Lots of people are better off as a result. It has been a success," she said.

The law has so far proved popular with the German public.

A survey carried out by the Trade Union Confederation (DGB) revealed that 86% of the population support the minimum wage, although only three percent of the people surveyed had been directly affected by it.

In discussions before the law's implementation, fears were voiced that it would lead to wide-scale job losses and price increases.

Ferdinand Fischer, an expert from the German Economic Institute, said: "The introduction of the national minimum wage has not caused any price increases in the wider sense, to the extent where people would be out of pocket."

But this week Oktoberfest organisers announced that they will have to raise their beer prices above €10 because of provisions in the minimum wage law.

Meanwhile, the director for the Institute of Employment Research, Joachim Möller, told Spiegel: "The job market meltdown that some economists were predicting simply hasn't happened."

Complaints over bureaucracy

Some employers and trade unions have criticized the law for being too bureaucratic.

The president of the Confederation of German Employers' Association, Ingo Kramer, suggested a possible reform to the law to the Passauer Neue Presse.

"Businesses that pay their employees much more than the minimum wage should not have to comply with all the bureaucratic rules," he said.

Holger Schwannecke, the general secretary of the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts, told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung that the compulsory documentation of the minimum wage puts thousands of family businesses under suspicion.

But Nahles said she couldn't see how the requirement of compulsory documentation would lead to too much bureaucracy, and maintained that any changes weren't an option.

She received support from Frank Bsirske, the head of Ver.di, the public services trade union, who said that "the requirement to document working hours is unavoidable in making sure that the minimum wage is adhered to."

Nonetheless the law already set to undergo reform. On April 23rd the coalition government will discuss possible changes, with Chancellor Angela Merkel announcing a desire to make it "more practical".

No figures have been released yet on the number of businesses which haven't complied.

by Matty Edwards

SEE ALSO: Merkel backs equal pay transparency law

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