Foreign nurses are entitled to the minimum wage

Worked seven days but only paid for a part-time job: foreign carers often work under precarious conditions. The Federal Labor Court has therefore made a far-reaching decision.

A foreign nurse measures the blood pressure of a senior citizen.

NAfter Germany, foreign nursing and domestic helpers who look after the elderly in their homes are entitled to a minimum wage. The Federal Labor Court decided on Thursday in a landmark judgment in Erfurt.

The highest German labor judge ruled that the minimum wage also applies to standby times during which the women, mostly from Eastern Europe, provided care on demand (file number 5 AZR 505/20). “Even on-call time is to be paid with the full minimum wage,” said the presiding judge Rüdiger Linck in the hearing.

Nursing specialists and trade unions assume that there are several hundred thousand foreign caregivers for people in need of care in German households. Their working conditions are often precarious.

A woman from Bulgaria set the precedent at the Federal Labor Court, who claims to have looked after a senior citizen over 90 years old in her Berlin apartment 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Her contract stipulated working hours of just 30 hours a week.

The federal judges decided the amount of the additional payment that the plaintiff must receive from her Bulgarian company is to be examined again by the Berlin-Brandenburg regional labor court. They referred the case of the woman, who had been employed as a “social assistant” in Bulgaria and placed in Germany in 2015, back to the regional labor court.