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German employers get creative to skirt new minimum wage

Profile:German employers get creative to skirt new minimum wage

German employers get creative to skirt new minimum wage

From charging slaughterhouse workers for their knives to compensating staff with tanning salon vouchers, German employers are coming up with creative ways to avoid paying a new minimum wage, angering unios.

从对屠宰场的屠夫收取刀子使用费到用美黑沙龙(tanning salon)代金券做员工补贴,德国的雇主们为了不支付最低工资,想出了许多有创意的方式,这一行为也激怒了工会.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government introduced Germany's first nationwide wage floor of 8.50 euros per hour early this year. The law was the brainchild of the Social Democrats (SPD), who made it a condition of joining Merkel's coalition in 2013.

今年年初,德国总理安吉拉•默克尔(Angela Merkel)领导的政府出台首个全国最低工资标准,为每小时8.50欧元.这项法案由社会民主党在2013年提出,并以此作为与默克尔联合执政的条件.

The centre-left party argued that it was a necessary response to the sharp rise in low-wage jobs over the past decade. Some 3.7 million people were expected to benefit.


But in the months since it went into effect it has become clear that not everyone is taking home more pay. The NGG food and catering unio is fielding up to 400 calls a day from people who say their employers are finding ways to circumvent the law.


"We're seeing some employers display an awful lot of creativity to get round paying the minimum wage," Burkhard Siebert of the NGG said.

NGG的员工伯克哈特•西伯特(Burkhard Siebert)说:"我们发现,为了逃避给员工们支付最低工资,一些雇主真是创意无穷."

He said some workers were no longer getting paid for overtime. Others are being charged for drinks and clothing they are required to wear on the job.


German Labour Minister Andrea Nahles has admitted to implementation problems but said she had not yet heard anything to suggest the law may need to be changed. The far-left linke party say it was "botched" and contains too many loopholes.

德国劳工部长安德里亚•那勒斯(Andrea Nahles)承认,法律实施过程中出现了一些问题,但表示她并没听到任何关于需要改变这一法律的提议.极左党派"左派党"(linke)认为这项法律很糟糕,存在许多漏洞.

Butchers have complained that they must pay a fee of up to 100 euros per month to use knives they need to cut meat. Bakers say they are being paid in buns and bread instead of cash.


Bernd Bischoff, who runs an advice center for contractors in the city of Oldenburg, said the meat industry was especially affected. Workers from southeast Europe were being charged more for accommodation to offset the cost of higher wages.

贝德恩•毕肖夫(Bernd Bischoff)在奥尔登堡经营一家承包商咨询中心.据他所说,肉类工业受到了极大的影响.雇主们为了抵消支付高额工资的影响,欧洲东南部的工人们需要支付自己的住宿费用.

Last week a survey by pollster Infratest dimap showed 15 percent of Germans had heard about employers sidestepping the minimum wage from friends and family. Some 3 percent said they were directly affected.

上周,Infratest dimap的民意调查结果显示,15%的德国人都有从朋友和家人那里得知,雇主们会想尽各种方法避免支付最低工资.有3%的人表示他们正是"受害者".

Among them is 66-year-old Juergen Schluens, who used to earn around 6.30 euros per hour delivering papers in the village of Witzwort close to the North Sea.


once the new wage law took effect, he says his boss reduced the premium he received for starting work at 4.45 a.m. and demanded that he get the job done in half the time.


"The minimum wage of 8.50 euros per hour was paid on paper but my boss said I could only take 52 minutes to do my round," he told Reuters. "I needed about 94 minutes -- and I should know as I've been doing the job for nearly 11 years."


He wrote a note of complaint to his boss and says his contract was subsequently terminated without notice, prompting him to take his employer to court. Schluens' employer did not respond to a request for comment.


unios report cases of bakeries, a solarium and a gym giving staff coupons to use on site rather than paying the minimum wage. A baker who refused such an offer was told to give the vouchers to her husband, the NGG said.


Other workers have had their holiday entitlement reduced or premiums for working nights, holidays and Sundays slashed.


Firms breaking the law face fines of up to 500,000 euros.


But it's not bad news for everyone. Uwe Schlegel, a Cologne lawyer, advises small firms on how to get around the minimum wage legally. Demand for his services is "extremely high".


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