Note: we are constantly updating this section as we get more information, receive translations and as things change. Things have not been accepted by the international community and, for example, the European Commission has initiated an infringement procedure with Germany on this topic.
Germany’s Bundestag approved on 3rd July 2014 the first ever minimum wage in the country and the law, Mindestlohngesetz, or MiLoG for short, implemented a minimum wage on German territory with effect from 1st January 2015. The wage level has been set initially at €8.50 per hour and will be reviewed annually from 1st January 2018 (several exceptions have been specified for a transitional period until 31st December 2016).
This move leaves just Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden without a minimum wage in the European Union.
The European Commission launched an infringement procedure against Germany regarding the application of the Minimum Wage Law in the transport sector. On 19th May a Letter of Formal Notice was sent to German authorities, which is the first step in the process. The aGerman side now has two months to reply to the Commission's conserns.
The minimum wage law is not only applicable to those employed in Germany but also to those employed abroad and temporarily working on German territory, e.g. truck drivers, locomotive drivers etc. The logic behind this is that the place of employment of a driver is the truck itself and that while it is on German roads the German minimum wage applies. As a result transport companies that provide services to/from/through Germany are affected.
However, following some strong initial reactions, the German government has announced that transit traffic will be excluded for now and that just transport to, from or within (cabotage) Germany will be covered. The German Customs Administration’s webpage notes the following: ‘This transitional arrangement for transit operations encompass all transports and/or modes of transport that originate or terminate out of Germany, or that transit Germany without loading or unloading goods, or picking up or setting down passengers within Germany. Interruptions of journeys for other purposes, such as filling the fuel tank, or breaks and rest periods for drivers or passengers, do not preclude the assumption of transit. The suspension of controls and sanctioning of administrative offences shall not apply to so-called cabotage operations (where a foreign-domiciled undertaking performs transportation services that originate or end in Germany) or to cross-border transports with loading or unloading in Germany.’
If a driver from a foreign company enters Germany, he is entitled to receive a minimum wage according to the German law for the time frame he performs this activity in Germany. The payment of the German minimum wage of €8,5/hour covers the working time (driving plus other activities, but not breaks).
The main reaction comes from the IRU as truck drivers are most affected but rail and inland waterways transport is equally impacted by the new German rules.
One of the major issues affecting companies operating from other countries into Germany is that driver remuneration often includes various allowances which are excluded in the calculation applied under the German law.
A consequence of this is that companies will in many cases have contractual obligations with prices based on their existing lower national wage rates and they will now be forced to increase these to the minimum €8.50/hour. It remains to be seen how these situations will be resolved.
The enforcement agency for this legislation is the German Customs FKS Financial Monitoring Unit to Control Unreported or Illicit Employment (Zollverwaltung Finanzkontrolle Schwarzarbeit).
Our understanding is that the following information should be submitted by foreign transport operators to the Bundesfinanzdirektion West in Cologne before starting a transport operation on German territory (by using form 033037, see below). (There are five Bundesfinanzdirektionen in Germany and they are the supreme authority for the main customs offices.)
- Last name, first name and date of birth of the employee
- Start and estimated duration of the operation on German territory
- Address where documents are stored
- A confirmation certifying that, upon request, employers will provide the proof that the minimum wage was paid to the driver.
The notification is to be sent in writing and in German language to the following fax number of the Bundesfinanzdirektion West: + 49 (0) 221 / 964870
Forms to fill in
The forms can be found here: http://www.zoll.de/DE/Service/Formulare-Merkblaetter/formulare-merkblaetter_node.html
Under 'Subject area' choose 'Businesses' then under 'Topic' choose 'Work'. Here you will find the forms 033035, 033036, 033037 and 033038. However, there is no precise information available on what exactly needs to be submitted. Please know that these forms have for the moment been removed from the Authority's website.
Documents must to be sent to the Bundesfinanzdirektion West before the truck arrives on German territory. This can be done even on the same day but definitively before the truck enters the country. Note that after you have sent the notification you will receive no official reply or confirmation from the Bundesfinanzdirektion.
Where can you find more information?
Official information on which evidence needs to be kept at the employer company's premises: http://www.zoll.de/EN/Businesses/Work/Foreign-domiciled-employers-posting/Minimum-conditions-of-employment/Other-obligations/other-obligations_node.html
The German Customs Authority's webpage information regarding allowances, wage components and other practical details: http://www.zoll.de/EN/Businesses/Work/Foreign-domiciled-employers-posting/Minimum-conditions-of-employment/minimum-conditions-of-employment_node.html
The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) has set up an information website in German: http://www.der-mindestlohn-gilt.de/ml/DE/Startseite/start.html
For general information in English, the German Customs Administration can provide you more information. Mail them here: email@example.com
Members can find more information here
Download the compliance documents in English
Frequently Asked Questions