Minimum wage for holiday jobbers: fair wage or “disincentive”?

Minimum wage for holiday jobbers: fair wage or "disincentive"?

For many students in Germany, vacation time does not just mean vacation, sun, beach and sea. Many work during this time – for example as waiters in beer gardens, ice cream parlors or restaurants. However, minors are exempt from the minimum wage of twelve euros.

SPD General Secretary Kevin Kühnert wants to change that. “The exception to the minimum wage for under 18s is an unjustifiable distortion,” said the SPD politician. He also receives support from the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB). The minimum wage must apply to all working people, without exception, according to the DGB.

This attitude also seems to be widespread among restaurateurs. In the summer, half a dozen students under the age of 18 work in Henry’s ice cream factory in Saarbrücken, the capital of Saarland. Here minors already receive the minimum wage of twelve euros – depending on ability and skill even more.

“Performance counts, not age”

In the end, performance counts – and not age, says owner Dominik Heil. “During an inspection, I was even told that we don’t necessarily have to pay the minimum wage. But I think if a 16-year-old or a 17-year-old does the same job as an 18-year-old, why shouldn’t the person do the same get minimum wage?”

A similar picture can be seen a few kilometers further in the Quack guest house restaurant. It is respectful to pay the minimum wage to temporary students, says the head of the house, Anne Quack. For them it is also an “investment in young people”.

DEHOGA warns of false incentives

The German Hotel and Restaurant Association (DEHOGA) sees things differently. Paying the minimum wage to under-18s would create false incentives. There is a risk that young people will take unskilled jobs instead of completing vocational training.

In addition, the minimum wage was introduced at the time to secure earned income, said DEHOGA boss in Saarland, Frank Horath. This is not usually the case with students. It’s more about fulfilling personal wishes with the money you earn, such as a Playstation. “I don’t think you can equate that,” says Horath.

Chamber of Labor: “The work is the same”

The Saarland Chamber of Labor sees things differently. It’s about recognition. “If you look at how students walk around in a beer garden with beer mugs, of course this achievement must be recognised. Just like the achievement of someone who is of legal age. The work is basically the same,” says Torsten Brandt from the Arbeitskammer .

The statutory minimum wage in Germany is currently twelve euros per hour. From 2024, according to the proposal of the responsible commission, it should increase to 12.41 euros and from January 1, 2025 it will be 12.82 euros.


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