As the EU economy advanced its recovery following the pandemic, the high rate of inflation throughout 2022 meant that wage setting actors made their decisions under a cloud of uncertainty. While nominal increases in statutory minimum wages reached an all-time high, minimum wage workers in most countries saw their purchasing power decline or just about compensated at the beginning of 2023, based on preliminary harmonised inflation figures. With inflation expected to persist, a further depreciation of minimum wages in real terms can be expected in most Member States, as only a few foresee additional increases in 2023.
Minimum wages in the EU
- Published between
- 2 Feabhra 2015 - 23 Eanáir 2023
This series reports on developments in minimum wage rates across the EU, including how they are set and how they have developed over time in nominal and real terms. The series explores where there are statutory minimum wages or collectively agreed minimum wages in the Member States, as well as minimum wage coverage rates by gender.
- Report30 Samhain 2022
This report is carried out in the context of the three-year pilot project (2021–2023), ‘Role of the minimum wage in establishing the Universal Labour Guarantee’, mandated to Eurofound by the European Commission. Its focus is module 3 of the project, investigating minimum wages and other forms of pay for the self-employed. Out of concern for the challenging conditions faced by certain groups of self-employed workers, some Member States have established or are in discussions about proposing some statutory forms of minimum pay for selected categories of the self-employed.
- Blog15 Meitheamh 2022
Minimum wages have risen significantly in 2022, as the EU Member States leave behind the cautious mood of the pandemic. However, rising inflation is eating up these wage increases, and only flexibility in the regular minimum wage setting processes may avoid generalised losses in purchasing power among minimum wage earners. On 6 June 2022, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament reached a political agreement on the Directive on adequate minimum wages proposed by the Commission in October 2020. Once formally approved, EU Member States will have to transpose it into national law within two years.
- Report15 Meitheamh 2022
After a cautious round of minimum wage setting for 2021, nominal rates rose significantly for 2022 as the negative consequences of the pandemic eased and economies and labour markets improved. In this context, 20 of the 21 EU Member States with statutory minimum wages raised their rates. Substantial growth was apparent in the central and eastern European Member States compared with the pre-enlargement Member States, while the largest increase occurred in Germany. When inflation is taken into account, however, the minimum wage increased in real terms in only six Member States.
- Article27 Eanáir 2022
The first overview of minimum wage setting for 2022 shows that, while some negotiations are still ongoing, virtually all EU Member States have increased their nominal statutory rates. Compared to last year, when most countries settled for cautious increases against a background of deep uncertainty caused by the pandemic, growth in statutory rates for 2022 was stronger, reflecting an easing of the situation. This was especially the case in central and eastern European countries, where some increases were in double digits. Nevertheless, inflation is back in the picture and should be monitored in the coming months to get an insight into how the increases in nominal minimum wage rates translate into actual changes in the purchasing power of minimum wage earners.
- Blog26 Deireadh Fómhair 2021
While the number of employees earning the minimum wage has increased across Europe over the last decade, spurred by significant minimum wage hikes, a clear gender divide emerges, with minimum wage earners more likely to be women. Minimum wage earners are also more likely to live in materially deprived households.
- Report10 Meitheamh 2021
This report summarises how minimum wage rates for 2021 were set during 2020 – the year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. It reviews the difficulties faced by national decision-makers and how they reacted to the challenges of the economic and social fall-out of the pandemic when making decisions regarding the minimum wage. It maps the extent to which minimum wages were referred to in COVID-19-related support measures. It discusses advances made on the EU initiative on adequate minimum wages and maps the reactions of the EU-level social partners and national decision-makers.
- Blog8 Meitheamh 2021
Decision-makers approached minimum wage setting for 2021 cautiously due to the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Despite this, nominal statutory minimum wages rose in most Member States and the UK, although at lower rates than in recent years.
- Article3 Feabhra 2021
Despite the unusually tough economic and labour market conditions, most EU Member States made nominal and real increases to their minimum wages in 2020. This is what a first overview of recent minimum wage developments reveals. Some countries lived up to earlier promises or pre-agreements, while other countries strayed somewhat off their original path but still maintained the overall trend of increasing minimum wages in line with other wages. Although most countries were cautious in the level of increase granted, low inflation rates meant that the value of minimum wages still went up beyond rises in consumer prices. For the time being, at least, it can be concluded that the policy response in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic is distinct from the approach taken during the global financial crisis, when a greater number of countries moved quickly to freeze nominal minimum wages.
- Blog7 Iúil 2020
Minimum wages, one of the cornerstone issues for Ursula von der Leyen’s Commission, were a hot topic in the EU at the beginning of the year. Then the COVID-19 public health crisis struck. Now, with an economic crisis and recession looming, the question is not only what impact the crisis has had on minimum wage earners, but also what is the impact on the debate itself. How can the European Commission and Member States ensure minimum wages that are fair and provide a decent standard of living during and following a ‘black swan’ such as the Coronacrisis?
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- Preliminary framework for a Eurofound Collective Agreements Database on collectively bargained minimum pay ratesWorking paper30 Samhain 2022
- Besamusca, Janna; Guzi, Martin; Tijdens, Kea; Caminha Barros, Ludmila; Medas, Gabriele; Osse, Paulien; Szüdi, Gabor
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- Summary of national databases and archives for the Eurofound Collective Agreements DatabaseWorking paper30 Samhain 2022
- Medas, Gabriele; Szüdi, Gabor; Besamusca, Janna; Caminha Barros, Ludmila; Tijdens, Kea; Osse, Paulien
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- Minimum wage developments in the last decade, low-paid employees and minimum wage earnersWorking paper10 Meitheamh 2021