Minimum wage in Germany? What you need to know

TransferWise
07.23.18
4 minute read

Germany is so much more than sausages and beer. The country boasts incredibly low unemployment, a high quality of life, and a wonderful mix of history, culture and nature. It’s no wonder Germany is the destination of choice for many expats.

But if you decide to make a move to Germany, how will you support yourself once you’re there? You’ll have to have a job, and it’s entirely possible that the German minimum wage will be your new salary. Will it be enough to support you? How far can you stretch a minimum wage paycheck in Germany?

Read on to learn everything you need to know about Germany’s minimum wage.

What’s the minimum wage in Germany?

The current minimum wage in Germany is €8.84 per hour.

Who determines minimum wages? When was the last increase?

The official minimum wage in Germany is set by the country’s parliament, and it was last increased this year. However, collective bargaining agreements are common in Germany, and they often set their minimum wages higher than the national minimum. Union minimum wages are enforceable by law in Germany.

Does the minimum wage vary depending on the region in Germany?

Germany’s minimum wage applies across the entire country. There is no variance depending on the region.

Does the minimum wage differ by age in Germany?

Germany’s minimum wage law does not apply to underage people, so anyone under the age of 18 can still be paid less than the minimum wage.

Is there a different minimum wage for apprenticeships or internships?

Germany’s minimum wage law doesn’t apply to apprentices or interns. Apprentices can be paid less than minimum wage during their training periods, and interns don’t have to be paid at all. However, unpaid internships are only allowed if the intern is a current student. If he or she has finished school, internships must be paid. Unpaid internships are also limited to three months, after which time the employer must begin paying the intern at least the minimum wage.

Historically, how much has the minimum wage changed over time?

Germany’s minimum wage law is extremely new — it was only passed in 2015, when Prime Minister Angela Merkel made a power-sharing deal with the German Social Democratic Party that included the enactment of a national minimum wage. Before it was enacted, collective bargaining agreements were the main way wages were determined in Germany, and even though a minimum legal wage now exists, collective bargaining agreements are still very common. Germany was one of only seven countries in the European Union without a minimum wage when it adopted one.

When the minimum wage was adopted in Germany in 2015, it was set at €8.50 per hour. The law came with a stipulation that the minimum wage would be reviewed every two years, and it was raised for the first time this year to its current rate.

What’s the minimum per month you need to make to qualify for national healthcare or health insurance?

Germany has a universal healthcare system in place, so there’s no minimum amount that people need to make in order to qualify for national healthcare. Public health insurance in Germany costs, on average, 7.5 percent of an individual’s earned income, or 15 percent for those who are self-employed. However, there are a number of programs in place that can bring those costs down, especially for people who are self-employed in artistic fields, or for people who are unemployed or earn very little. Basically, everyone is guaranteed some sort of health coverage in Germany, without barriers depending on how much they earn.

What’s the living wage in Germany? How much can you really get by on?

Compared to many other cities in Europe and around the world, Germany’s cost of living is fairly low. However, its minimum wage is also lower than in many other places.

In Berlin or Munich, a one-bedroom flat can cost less than half what it would in London or New York City. Food and transportation are also on the cheaper side in German cities, compared to other major cities around the world. In fact, living expenses for a single person spending a year in Germany don’t even top €10,000 on average, not including rent, making Germany an extremely affordable place to call home.

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Compared to other countries, is the minimum wage in Germany good?

Whether the minimum wage is “good” really depends on the cost of living in any given country. But here’s how Germany’s minimum wage compares to other parts of the world.

CountryMinimum Wage (in US dollars)
Germany$10.48 per hour
Canada$7.93 - $10.68 per hour
United States$7.25 per hour
United Kingdom$9.93 per hour
Australia$508.88 per week
NorwayNo legal minimum wage
France$1,748.85 per month
SingaporeNo legal minimum wage
Dubai (UAE)No legal minimum wage
Belgium$1,846.11 per month

Is Oktoberfest still calling your name? If so, Germany may be a great place for you to visit or live in next. Regardless of where you decide to call home, best of luck with your move!

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