Germany: As of January 2015 a nationwide minimum wage will come into existence. What changes to expect?
Currently there is not one minimum wage in Germany but several minimum wages for particular industry sectors. This is going to change as it is political common sense that a nationwide minimum wage should come into existence starting from January 2015. A first draft law from the government is now available. Under the draft employers will have to pay a minimum hourly wage of 8.50 EUR (gross). Parties to collective agreements (labor unions and employers associations) may only differ from this if they agree on a higher minimum wage.
An important detail for the principal of a contract for services is that the principal is directly liable to the agent's employees if the agent does not pay the minimum wage. The principal is only released from liability if unaware nor should have been aware that no minimum wage was paid. This clause will raise important questions as it is always difficult to prove lack of knowledge. So the risk of liability will arise where the agreed remuneration under a service agreement is so low that it was clearly impossible to pay minimum wages at all. So one can assume that the less the principal has to pay the higher the principal's risk of liability.
For the time being we await further legislative proceedings and rely on the common principle that no draft law leaves the parliament as proposed.
Source: Gesetzentwurf der Bundesregierung, Tarifautonomiestärkungsgesetz