Minimum wage separates the wheat from the chaff

Minimum wage separates the wheat from the chaff

Erich weichlein is an innkeeper in body and soul. His world is his country inn in idyllic weingartsgreuth. It is run by the seventh generation of the family – since 1784.

"Every time is difficult and has its challenges. But compared to my ancestors, I can't say we have it harder.", says weichlein. The 52-year-old is preparing for the from 1. January introduces minimum wage. Kunftig earns his help 8,50 euro. That's 50 cents more than before: "that doesn't really hurt us much, we'll get it done." Also the price increases will not be too high. "There will be only a slight increase."

What worries him about the minimum wage, however, is the fact that the working hours of all employees are documented in detail. That means more office work and less time for the kitchen. In addition, weichlein must pay closer attention to the working hours of the temporary workers.

"The fact is that many of my employees still have another job. Coming from that, I have to ask you how long you have been working." Employees were not allowed to work longer than ten hours. When it comes to celebrations, weichlein will probably have to watch the clock more closely in the future.

"I can no longer allocate my staff as flexibly as before. Then I guess it's going to be harder to demand celebrations at an hour or two at night without a gross oversight", fears softly. This aspect is also causing headaches for the german hotel and restaurant association (dehoga). A spokesman for the association says that the minimum wage will make it more difficult to comply with the prescribed working hours, and adds: "but we need flexible working hours in the restaurant business." Weichlein recalls the relationship between employers and employees: with the minimum wage, it is becoming skewed.

He is certain: "the extensive documentation of the working hours of temporary workers, who are dependent on the additional income, can turn into a boomerang for them." But the host from weingartsgreuth also sees opportunities in the new minimum wage: "it might also separate the wheat from the chaff." Weichlein assumes that many low-cost suppliers in the catering industry will have to calculate differently in the future and will then have a harder time of it. "This helps the companies like ours, which put great emphasis on quality."

A dehoga spokeswoman stresses that she is currently unable to assess whether a wave of layoffs is heading for the low-cost catering sector. "This is the entrepreneurial responsibility", she says. The dehoga had tried in vain to push for the introduction of the minimum wage for its sector at 1. September 2016 to be postponed. Previously there should be only 7.50 euros per hour, from 1. September 2015 then eight euros. But that was not enough for the food and hospitality workers' union (NGG).

First results on the impact of the minimum wage on the labor market will be a long time coming. Apparently they won't be available for more than a year, a survey of leading german labor market researchers shows.

Long waiting time
"you can't go to 1.January bring in the minimum wage, and at the end of the year the results are already there", says holger bonin, senior labor market economist at the center for european economic research (ZEW). For three quarters of a year, the institute has been working on a comprehensive model that is intended to precisely record the consequences.

Only in "two to three years there will be final results, estimates bonin.

Other researchers, such as the chairman of the council of experts, christoph schmidt, are also steaming up expectations. But how does it go on in the landgasthof weichlein?

The eighth generation is already ready to take over there. Philipp weichlein has completed his apprenticeship, was crowned the best young chef in bavaria and is working for star chef alexander herrmann in wirsberg. "Now it should take its time to gain experience before it takes over the helm here", his father says proudly.

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