Why a minimum wage for interns may not be a reason to celebrate

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This week the German Parliament will start the debate on whether to vote into law a minimum wage that would apply to interns who have joined their position voluntarily or for more than six weeks. The draft law in question would set the minimum wage at €8.50 per hour. This means that interns in the startup scene who are accustomed to earning between €400 to €600 per month – or who are unpaid – will now make a gross salary of €1,400 in the case of working 40 hours a week.

The German Government’s motivation for the minimum wage is to encourage companies to hire full-time employees instead of using interns for cheap labor. For the startup scene, however, this means a likely drop in the amount of internships available in 2015 due to the fact that startups simply cannot afford to pay more. In a talk with eDarling, Gründerszene found out that less than 10 percent of its workforce are interns which the co-founder David Khalil says will only decrease if a minimum wage is put into place.

Startups, however, may not be the only ones disappointed with a minimum wage. Less internship options means bad news for job seekers who value a chance to gain experience in the startup scene over a bigger salary. Yesterday, we spoke with two interns from expat agency GLOBALS who told us about their work which they do without pay. “It’s not about the money. It’s about the experience,” both agreed.

According to others in the startup scene, internship spots are not the only factor at stake. Constanze Buchheim, founder of the HR consultancy i-Potentials, says that “the laws will put a stop to the flourishing startup scene and poses a threat to innovation and growth in Germany.” Whether or not these voices on the subject will help sway the debate one way or the other will be seen in the coming weeks.

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Image Credit: Some rights reserved by Kārlis Dambrāns