Workplace Report March 2021

European news

German elderly care agreement may set new minimum

Ver.di, Germany’s second largest union, and the employers’ organisation BVAP, representing care home companies, have reached agreement on new wage scales for staff providing care for older people which could result in a 25% increase by 2023 in the minimum wage paid to non-qualified staff.

However, although this agreement is certainly good news for employees in homes run by members of BVAP, its wider impact will depend on whether its rates are extended to become the minimum rates for all staff providing care for the elderly. And, while this is possible, it is not certain.

The German government has the power, in some industries, to fix industry-specific minimum rates either by extending an existing collective agreement across the industry or by adopting the recommendations of a specially appointed commission.

Up to now, the minimum rates in social care have been set based on commission recommendations, but the agreement between ver.di and the BVAP could be extended instead.

The SDP labour minister, Hubertus Heil, has said that he is considering extending the ver.di-BVAP deal, but other employers in the sector are opposed. They argue that the BVAP only represents a tiny number of homes and that ver.di has few members working in care for the elderly.

Whether the big charitable care providers, the catholic Caritas and its protestant counterpart, Diakonie, are willing to back the ver.di-BVAP agreement, is likely to decide the outcome.