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Minimum wage FAQ for interns

Do I get a minimum wage during my internship?

Yes and no - whether you will receive a minimum wage during your internship depends on different factors. If you do a compulsory internship as part of your study regulations, you unfortunately have no right to a minimum wage, no matter how long the internship lasts. You also have no right to a minimum wage during an internship if the internship is not related to your studies.

The situation is different with voluntary internships during your studies. Because as soon as this lasts longer than three months, you will be paid the minimum wage. If the internship is shorter than three months, you will unfortunately get nothing again. But: If you want to do an internship in the same company again, you have to be paid the minimum wage right from the start.
Graduates are entitled to the minimum wage without restriction if the internship is related to the course they have completed.

What kind of internships does the minimum wage in Germany apply to?

The minimum wage in Germany applies to voluntary, study-related internships that last longer than three months. If you have already completed your studies, you are even entitled to the minimum wage without any time restrictions.

Compulsory internships and voluntary internships with a duration of less than three months are therefore excluded. Orientation internships before studies or internships that are not related to studies or training do not have to be remunerated with a minimum wage in Germany. However, there is an exception for voluntary internships of less than three months. If you return to the company as an intern for another internship, this is officially your fourth month of the internship and you are now entitled to the minimum wage in Germany.

In addition to the internship, I have a mini-job. Do I get a minimum wage?

Of course you get the minimum wage in your mini job. If you already had the mini-job before the minimum wage law, you now have to check whether you are exceeding the limit of 450 euros with the current working hours. Because then your mini job is no longer a mini job, but an employment relationship subject to social insurance. The simplest solution in this case is to reduce and adjust the number of hours.

For your internship, on the other hand, the minimum wage depends on whether you are doing a compulsory or voluntary internship. Because while voluntary internships of a duration of more than three months must be remunerated with the minimum wage, this is not the case with compulsory internships - regardless of the duration.

Statutory minimum wage during internship. Who is entitled to it?

In fact, a statutory minimum wage does not apply to every type of internship. Whether you are eligible or not depends primarily on the type of internship. Compulsory internships are excluded, as these are part of the course and legally not an employment relationship. A statutory minimum wage, on the other hand, applies to voluntary, study-related internships that last longer than three months. Shorter internships are subject to a special rule and are excluded from the minimum wage. But as soon as you complete a second internship in the same company and thus exceed the three months, you are entitled to the statutory minimum wage of 9.19 euros per hour.

University graduates also have the right to a minimum wage during their internship, without any time restrictions.

Minimum wage: pros and cons after the introduction of the minimum wage

There have been many discussions about minimum wages for / against since the law was introduced. The strongest pro argument is that unpaid or underpaid work is combated as far as possible. Interns in particular often do full work and receive no wages for it; this is now prevented, at least to a limited extent.

On the other hand, it is feared that internships of more than three months will only be offered in exceptional cases, as the minimum wage only has to be paid for three months or more. Internships between three and six months, however, offer the greatest learning effect.

It remains to be seen which positive forecasts and fears from the minimum wage pro / contra discussion will come true.

For whom is there a minimum wage?

Since the introduction of the minimum wage in 2015, it actually does not apply without restrictions to every intern. University graduates who complete an internship after completing their studies have unrestricted rights.

Course-related, voluntary internships are only paid for with a duration of more than three months with the current statutory minimum wage of 9.19 euros. Shorter internships and compulsory internships are exempt from the minimum wage, which has been paid since 2015. Of course, that doesn't mean that your employer doesn't pay you compensation anyway. Have a look at our internship exchange, here you will find many paid internship positions.

If you are doing a mini-job in addition to your (compulsory) internship, then of course you also have the right to a payment that at least corresponds to the minimum wage. If you already benefit from the minimum wage in your mini-job, then you should only note that you are still not allowed to exceed the limit of 450 euros per month.

What hourly wage do I get during the internship?

So far, the statutory minimum wage for internships was 8.84 euros. According to the current minimum wage law, you are now entitled to 9.19 euros an hour - at least if it is a voluntary internship that lasts longer than three months. From a legal point of view, no remuneration is required for compulsory internships, but if you are paid one, the hourly wage can differ significantly from the minimum wage. As a rule, however, instead of an hourly wage, a monthly lump sum is paid. If you work 40 hours a week in your internship, the gross monthly amount should not be less than 1470 euros, because this corresponds to the hourly wage of 9.19 euros.

Are the 9.19 euros gross or net minimum wage?

It is easy to answer whether the minimum wage is gross or net. This is the gross wage. If you work 40 hours a week, you will earn a gross monthly salary of 1470 euros. Your net wage is around 1104 euros if you are in tax class 1 and subject to church tax.

If, on the other hand, you have a mini job, the minimum wage does not change anything, here the minimum wage is still your net income. However, you should be careful about your total earnings in the mini job. If you earn more than 450 euros with the same number of hours, your job is no longer considered a mini job. You should adjust the number of hours accordingly.

Where does my pay slip say whether I get the minimum wage?

If you get a fixed monthly salary for your internship, you can easily work out with the help of your pay slip whether your salary corresponds to the minimum wage of 9.19 euros per hour.

The easiest way to do this is with an online salary calculator. Here you only have to take your gross salary and your weekly working hours from your pay slip and enter them and you will get the hourly wage calculated.

You can also calculate your hourly wage manually. For this you use the simple calculation: Gross salary divided by the number of hours in the month.

So there are two calculation steps necessary, since the hours per month have to be calculated first.

Step 1: (weekly working hours times 13) divided by 3 = average working hours

Step 2: Average hours worked through gross monthly wages

An example calculation, assuming a weekly working time of 35 hours and a gross wage of 1414 euros, looks like this:

Step 1: (35 X 13): 3 = 151.66

Step 2: 1414: 151.66 = 9.32

The hourly wage is therefore above the statutory minimum wage of 9.19 euros!

By the way, if you are paid by the hour, as is customary for working student activities, for example, the hourly wage should also be shown on the pay slip.

Is there such a thing as a collective agreement for interns?

Yes, there is something like a collective agreement for interns, but collective agreements only apply to internships that are completed as part of training in the public service, such as alternative practitioners, social workers or pharmaceutical-technical assistants. These collective agreements not only show salary and working hours, but also working conditions and other details such as vacation entitlement and sick pay.

There are currently no collective agreements for internships that are completed voluntarily or as compulsory internships as part of a degree.

Which minimum wage exceptions are there? Am I one of them?

There are some exceptions to the minimum wage, especially with regard to interns. These primarily affect all mandatory interns. If your internship is stipulated by the study regulations, there is an exception to the minimum wage for you. In this case, unfortunately, you are not entitled to any salary at all, as the internship is not an employment relationship, but part of your studies.

Another minimum wage exception concerns voluntary internships that do not exceed three months. Because as an intern, you are only entitled to a minimum wage if you have a duration of more than three months. Incidentally, this also applies if you do another internship in the same company after a three-month internship. The relation to your studies can also affect your right to a minimum wage. If the internship has no relation to your studies, the employer is also not obliged to pay you the minimum wage of 9.19 euros per hour.

I'm doing a compulsory internship. Do I get a minimum wage?

You have to be very strong now, because unfortunately no minimum wage has to be paid in the compulsory internship. This is because a compulsory internship is part of your studies and is therefore not considered an employment relationship. Unfortunately, it gets even worse because, strictly speaking, you are not entitled to any internship remuneration at all. Of course, that doesn't mean that you can't be paid a salary. So your employer can of course pay you the minimum wage for the compulsory internship or a freely negotiated amount. You can of course also find more information on internship remuneration in our guide.