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Germany — 12.6% of temporary employees need social benefits to survive

10 September 2009

According to a new research report by the Institute for Labour and Qualifications (IAQ) of Duisberg-Essen University, the concept of 'Equal Pay for Equal Work' hardly ever applies for temporary workers in Germany.

In theory, temporary employees have the legal right to be paid just as much as their permanent counterparts. Differences in pay are only allowed when they are based on a bilateral agreement (Tarifvertrag) between unions and employers' organisations. Germany has no general minimum wage.

IAQ labour expert Achim Vanselow criticises that, "low wage agreements have been signed for temporary workers. Initial salary levels for temporary workers are 50% of the average salary in the (respective) industry. By international standards these can therefore be described as 'poverty salaries’."

"In the Federal State of North-Rhine-Westphalia average salaries of temporary employees have fallen by 7% between 1999 and 2006. Temporary employees are paid up to 45% less than permanent employees."

"Even before the economic crisis, 91,000 temporary employees or 12.6% relied on social benefits during the time they were working because they are paid so little."

"Temporary employment is an important element of the labour market," Vanselow says further. However he criticises the fact that temporary employees are often abused in order to avoid the payments agreed between unions and employers' organisations, which do not apply to temporary employees.



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