The minimum wage is rising – a central promise of the government is implemented by a Bundestag resolution. But because of the price jumps, doubts are being raised in the debate as to whether the income limit is sufficient.

The statutory minimum wage in Germany will rise to 12 euros on October 1st. The Bundestag decided on Friday in Berlin. The minimum wage law by Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) was passed with the votes of the coalition and the left. The Union MPs and the AfD abstained. The gross minimum wage is currently EUR 9.82. On July 1, it will rise to EUR 10.45 as scheduled. At the same time, the limit for mini-jobs will rise from 450 to 520 euros in October.

The draft law assumes that there are currently around 6.2 million employees with an hourly wage of less than 12 euros. Women and people in East Germany should benefit disproportionately from the increase, as Heil said in the debate. For many, the wage increase is probably the biggest wage jump in their lives. Heil said that without Olaf Scholz as chancellor, the minimum wage would not be increased. The SPD politician had made raising the lower wage limit a core promise of the federal election campaign.

Traffic light deputies praise for minimum wage increase

Several speakers warned that the current price explosion is threatening the very existence of many people. Left-wing budget expert Gesine Lötzsch said: “Actually, it should be 13 euros by now.” Another relief package is needed. Heil referred to the relief for people with normal and low incomes that the coalition is launching. Green social expert Andreas Audretsch said people working full-time shouldn’t be at risk of poverty at the end of the day. The increase in the minimum wage also increases purchasing power.

The FDP social expert Pascal Kober praised the raising of the mini-job limit. Mini-jobbers would help when it comes to full shelves in the supermarket at any time of the day or service in the restaurant in the evening. With the increase in the mini-job limit, the shortage of skilled workers will also be counteracted to a small extent.

The SPD MP Dagmar Schmidt admitted: “Many have to ask themselves whether the money is still enough for fruit, the trip to grandma, the school trip.” The coalition will continue to fight inflation. In addition, Schmidt promoted the “social climate money”, a planned one-off payment per year that Heil had announced for 2023. Schmidt called the minimum wage increase an “act of self-defense against falling collective bargaining agreements”.

Inflation Germany products

Union and Afd abstain from voting

The CDU social expert Hermann Gröhe accused the coalition of chaotic voices when it came to curbing the enormous price increases. If further price jumps were allowed, a higher minimum wage would be of little use. Gröhe justified the non-approval of the Union by saying that she did not want to reach out to the “disenfranchisement of the social partners”.

AfD MP Norbert Kleinwaechter said that many foreign workers in Germany promoted competition on the job market and depressed wage levels. “A healthy market doesn’t need a minimum wage, because it has rules and it has limits.”

The employers’ association BDA had already criticized the minimum wage increase in advance. “We are not concerned with the amount of the minimum wage,” said employer president Rainer Dulger of “Welt” (Friday). “The federal government is not sticking to the agreements that we made in 2015 when the minimum wage commission was founded with the introduction of the statutory minimum wage.” The association rejects the idea that the increase step should now be passed once by the commission of employers and trade unions. The Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB) also criticized the raising of the mini-job limit.