New rules for fair minimum wages in the EU
A new EU directive in the labor field is on the verge of being adopted.
The draft law aims to create new rules in order to ensure fair minimum wages in the EU, either by establishing a statutory wage (the lowest wage permitted by law), or by allowing workers to negotiate their wages with their employers.
The new legislation should apply to all workers in the EU who have an employment contract or employment relationship.
The draft directive addresses the following ideas/ principles:
- A minimum wage should ensure a decent standard of living. The right to an adequate minimum wage is mentioned in Principle 6 of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which was jointly agreed by the European Parliament, the Council on behalf of all member states, and the European Commission in November 2017.
- Collective bargaining should be strengthened in countries where it covers fewer than 80% of workers. It will be explicitly forbidden to undermine collective bargaining or collective agreements on wage setting.
- The powers of national authorities and social partners’ autonomy to determine wages must be fully respected. National authorities should ensure that workers have a right to redress if their rights are infringed. Workers must be adequately compensated and be able to recover any remuneration due. National authorities must also take the necessary measures to protect workers and trade union representatives from being treated unfairly by their employer because of a complaint that they have lodged or any other proceeding initiated to enforce their rights.
In the EU, 21 out of 27 countries have a statutory minimum wage, while in the other six (Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden) wage levels are determined through collective bargaining.
Expressed in euro, monthly minimum wages vary widely across the EU, ranging from €332 in Bulgaria to €2 202 in Luxembourg (2021 data from Eurostat).