Merkel’s party mates push to end minimum wage for interns

Members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's party are trying to combat the decline of internships since the introduction of the minimum wage.

Merkel's party mates push to end minimum wage for interns
A job networking event for students in Potsdam. Photo: Hasso Plattner Institut/DPA.

The German minimum wage was just introduced for the first time at the start of last year, and government estimates say that the policy directly benefits 3.7 million workers.

But there’s one group of workers that it has apparently not helped so much: interns.

Interns in Germany must be paid the €8.50 per hour minimum wage under certain conditions, for example if they work more than three months at a non-required internship and have completed a university degree.

Since the introduction of the minimum wage, surveys have showed that the number of internship positions has dropped throughout the country.

To reverse this decline, members of Angela’s Merkel’s CDU (Christian Democratic Union) party and its sister party the CSU (Christian Social Union) have proposed abolishing the minimum wage

“All internships which are made during studies or training, regardless of whether it is a voluntary or required internship, should always be minimum wage-free,” wrote the CDU’s student group RCDS, the Young Union and the CDU small business association in a statement seen by Die Welt.

One survey by research group Ifo and HR group Randstad in May found that since the minimum wage was implemented, the number of companies willing to offer internship positions had nearly halved: 34 percent of firms said they would offer voluntary internships, compared to 70 percent before 2015.

“We do not have the intern generation, but rather in many ways the internship itself is being eliminated,” said Carsten Linnemann of the CDU’s pro-business wing in the Bundestag (German parliament).

The Union groups say that the requirement to pay interns after a certain point discourages employers from offering such positions altogether, and therefore offers young people fewer opportunities.

“The minimum wage is wiping out internship positions by the dozens,” said the chair of the CDU student group RCDS Jenovan Krishnan.

“Because of this, students are the ones who suffer more than others. We therefore call for the minimum wage to be abolished for interns who are studying.”

“We need laws that serve the people, not laws that hinder people’s educational development,” said Paul Ziemiak, head of the Young Union group.

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