Due to the lack of employees in social services, Germany has decided for to significantly raise in the minimum wage for social service workers, in a radical change that may endanger the Czech health care system
Starting next year, the basic hourly salary of a qualified carer will be at least €15 per hour in Germany. With the allure of higher wages, Czech health services may see a flight of employees looking to earn better salaries in Germany.
The German government is seeking to secure enough employees to take care of Germany’s disabled people and its growing elderly population. To do so, it has decided that increasing the minimum wage would be the most effective solution.
In the case of qualified carers, the increase in the minimum hourly wage from €9.35 to €15 means an improvement of about 60 percent in terms of earnings.
However, managers of many Czech social facilities are concerned that draw of a higher salary in Germany may pose an even greater threat to Czech health care and social services than the dreaded outflow of doctors.
While carers in Germany must be able to speak German, the demands on language skills and proficiency tests are lower than for nurses or doctors. Therefore, according to experts, it could be expected that a sharp increase in wages could attract even more Czech employees to Germany.
Hubertus Heil, the German Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, announced that the government has agreed with the German trade and workers’ unions on wage adjustments that would make caring as a profession a relatively decently-paid job in the future.
The minimum monthly salary of a carer in Germany will reach about €2,500 a month plus any surcharges.
Moreover, from April 2022, the hourly wage of qualified caregivers will rise further to €15.40 per hour.
Also, the minimum wage for auxiliary and non-professional workers will rise gradually, so that from spring 2022, every working carer would earn at least €12.55 per hour.
Czechs fear the German decision
The German measure has already raises concerns in many Czech retirement homes and other social facilities that face a shortage of employees.
Indeed, if the pay gap for carers in Germany and the Czech Republic becomes even deeper, it is likely to lead to an even greater outflow of Czech medics and carers to Germany or Austria, especially among young people.
Although the current Czech government has raised salaries in social services quite significantly, they are still far from equal to the German or Austrian levels.
For example, in the Karlovy Vary Region, hundreds of people are already leaving for Germany to work in social services today. As a result, local social facilities are facing enormous staff shortages.
The German government is thus sending a clear signal that changes in the care sector must take place, particularly given the demographic development of Europe whose population is aging.
The Czech government may be forced to follow suit and raise salaries if it seeks to keep employees in the social services in the country. The Czech Republic has already faced an “exodus” of Czech doctors, many who seek better earnings and work-life balance in other countries such as Germany.