Minimum wage – What freight forwarders must observe

Meanwhile it has been established: the minimum wage will apply as of January 1, 2015, and the minimum wage law will have a considerable impact on freight forwarders and carriers in particular. Overtime in freight forwarders, for example, will be considerable because of the minimum wage.

Particularly with regard to drivers used in cross-border traffic, there is still considerable legal uncertainty. In particular, the legislator has not clarified whether even very short-term domestic journeys are affected by the minimum wage. It remains unclear whether the minimum wage will also apply in cross-border transport. The forwarding industry is facing great problems here.

Minimum wage probably also applies to drivers from abroad

The special feature of the minimum wage is that it is to be applied in principle to every employee employed in Germany. Moreover, the minimum wage also applies to foreign employees in freight forwarding companies – this is completely unproblematic if the main focus of activity lies in Germany, which raises considerable questions, especially for salaried professional drivers. The logistics industry will therefore have to check carefully whether all minimum wage requirements are being met.

Professional drivers are usually not mainly employed in one country, but – provided they are deployed throughout Europe – in a large number of countries.

It can currently be assumed that professional drivers must receive the minimum wage for the time they spend in Germany. This will, however, involve difficult accounting issues, as it will then be necessary to determine how much time the driver has spent in Switzerland. It must also be possible to determine the exact time of leaving the Federal Republic of Germany.

It remains to be seen whether the courts will also apply the minimum wage law to drivers from abroad who travel only briefly or on domestic transit journeys. After all, one might well assume that a professional driver does not work at all in Switzerland if he is only on a transit journey.

Minimum wage creates great legal uncertainty for freight forwarders

In this respect, there is currently considerable legal uncertainty for carriers and forwarders who have employed professional drivers if you do not want to pay the minimum wage.

Companies are well advised to deal with this question of the minimum wage. If the minimum wage is not paid (even if only wrongly), there is a risk of substantial fines. In this respect, customs, which will be responsible for control, is already increasing its staff to carry out unannounced control visits to companies. In this respect, companies should also be able to provide proof of calculations showing that they have calculated the minimum wage correctly.

If you have any questions about the minimum wage for freight forwarders, or would like to discuss whether the minimum wage applies in your constellation, please do not hesitate to contact us
Lawyer Dr. Tristan Wegner

Your consultant

ABC-Straße 21
20354 Hamburg
T +49 (0) 40 / 36 96 15 0
F +49 (0) 40 / 36 96 15 15
E ow@owlaw.com