Majority of Full-Time Jobs in Czech Republic Don’t Meet Minimum Decent Wage, Experts Warn

Last year, the minimum wage for full-time work in the Czech Republic was 40,912 crowns. In Prague, it was 42,776 crowns, mainly due to higher housing costs in the capital city. Representatives of the platform for a decent minimum wage stated this at a press conference on Tuesday. They warned that 63% of full-time jobs do not reach this amount.

The platform for a decent minimum wage has dealt with the concept of a decent minimum wage in the Czech Republic for several years. Its experts work with the idea that the income from a full-time job should cover not only the basic needs of an adult with a child but also expenses for leisure, education, and the possibility of regular savings.

This is different from the traditional definition of the minimum wage, as the minimum wage is only the result of political negotiations between unions, employers, and the state and does not reflect the expenses above that make up the primary material standard. The current minimum wage in the Czech Republic is 17,300 crowns, 1,100 crowns lower than last year.

According to the expert platform, the decent minimum wage in the regions was 31,146 crowns, and in Prague, 36,717 crowns in 2021. However, last year, according to the platform’s calculations, it increased significantly and reached the level of the average wage, which was 40,353 crowns in the Czech Republic last year.

The main reason for the significant increase is high inflation, with nominal wages growing more slowly than consumer prices. Thus, more than 800,000 jobs were below the minimum decent wage level last year.

“High price growth is concentrated in the area of basic needs, which has a greater impact on low-income employees,” said economist Jan Bittner. He noted that nominal wages do not cover inflation. “We are watching political pressure to prevent wages from continuing to rise at such a high rate because there is allegedly a risk of a wage-inflation spiral,” he added.

Women are worse off than men, with more women than men earning less than a decent minimum wage. This applies to 68% of women’s and 53% of men’s jobs. “The reason is the wage gap between men and women, which is above average in Europe,” said Bittner.

According to experts from the platform, one of the reasons why wages in the Czech Republic are below the minimum decent wage level is the weaker position of employees.