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Minimum decent wage

0 czk*

in Prague 0 CZK

* sallary before the taxation, 2019

What is a Minimum Decent Wage?

A minimum decent wage is the reward for a standard eight-hour work day which provides workers and their households with adequate financial means to live a life that is perceived by the majority of society as the basic standard.

With such a wage, people should be able to cover expenses for

food and housing, clothing, transportation, health care, education, and free-time activities, but also be able to pay for other important expenses, including savings for unexpected circumstances.

bydlení - minimální důstojná mzda
doprava - auto - minimální důstojná mzda
potraviny - čínské nudle - minimální důstojná mzda
pojištění - požár - minimální důstojná mzda

A minimum decent wage should allow for an ordinary, albeit materially-decent life so that a person can feel like a full member of society.

Why is it important?

Inadequate financial resources may cause people to:

brašna - minimální důstojná mzda

fall into a cycle of debt as a consequence of little or no savings;

domácnost - monstera, pokojová rostlina - minimální důstojná mzda

work in their free time, which has a negative effect on their health and family life;

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As a society we all end up paying for this.

nepokoje - minimální důstojná mzda

Frustration stemming from uncertainty and the feeling that no one cares or that no one is addressing these problems can lead to a loss of trust in the current political system.

nepokoje - minimální důstojná mzda

Economic uncertainty disproportionately impacts inhabitants from various regions. The weaker purchasing power of a region’s inhabitants has negatives impacts on the entire development of the local economy.

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How did we calculate the MDW?

čínské nudle v čínské restauraci - minimální důstojná mzda

Groceries

This category concerns expenses from buying groceries according to nutritional recommendations. Additionally, a working adult should have the possibility to eat (lunch) at a company cafeteria or a public restaurant.

0 CZK monthly
domeček - minimální důstojná mzda

Housing

Included here are costs for rent in an average-sized apartment, including services and utilities. The two amounts reflect the differences in prices in Prague and other cities in the Czech Republic. The same price for utilities and services is included for payers of mortgages or property owners.

0 CZK monthly
0 in Prague
obuv a oblečení, mokré prádlo na sušáku - minimální důstojná mzda

Clothing and footwear

This category concerns the cost of clothing and shoes.

0 CZK monthly
auto - minimální důstojná mzda

Transportation

Included here are costs associated with commuting to work or school or with running errands (shopping, seeing a doctor); it also includes costs from obtaining and using different modes of transportation (car, motorcycle, bike). Telecommunications

0 CZK monthly
laptop - minimální důstojná mzda

Telecommunications

This category concerns expenses associated with a phone plan, home internet, and licensing fees (e.g., TV or radio).

0 CZK monthly
sešit a tužka, školní potřeby - minimální důstojná mzda

Free time and education

This includes expenses related to continuous education, free time activities (cultural events, sports, after school groups for kids), and an in-country vacation.

0 CZK monthly
dentální hygiena, úsměv - minimální důstojná mzda

Health and hygiene

This category concerns costs associated with both hygiene products and health.

0 CZK monthly
nehoda, pojištění - minimální důstojná mzda

Savings

This is the average amount of a person’s income which should be set aside in the case of unexpected expenses or wage loss, as well as for retirement and other types of insurance.

0 CZK monthly

Stories

"At the most, I save a little from what my partner contributes to our studio apartment rental."

government civil servant Milan P, in a childless relationship (Prague, 34)

  • Read the whole story
  • Milan is a civil servant for four years now. He is amongst the best paid in his field, yet he takes home 28 000 Kč (approx. 1 085 €) per month after taxes. He is not in financial distress per se, as he and his girlfriend are able to afford the occasional weekend trip around Europe. Nevertheless, he has a desperate lack of savings: “At the most, I save a little from what my partner contributes to our studio apartment rental.” In fact, their most pressing problem has to do with housing. “Moving to a bigger apartment in Prague is out of the picture for us now. I don’t know what we would do if Janča were to get pregnant.”

    "My second job is the only thing that gets me by. But what kind of a person cannot get by on one job?"

    divorced teacher Naděžda K. (Zlín, 52)

  • Read the whole story
  • Naděžda is a teacher at a private hospitality high school in Zlín, where she makes approx. 21 000 Kč (approx. 824 €) after taxes. Her financial stability comes from working a second job – on the weekends she tutors adults who want to complete high school and sometimes she helps out her son with his company’s accounting. From her divorce she inherited an apartment in a housing cooperative, which ends up eating up a lot of her funds. The necessity of a second and even at times a third job has affected how Naděžda sees herself. “I don’t seem middle class to me – my second job is the only thing that gets me by. But what kind of person cannot get by on one job?”

    “We can pay for it, but then we have to use money for food or shoes.”

    caregiver Anna M., married mother of two (Prague)

  • Read the whole story
  • Anna is a caregiver who lives with two teenage kids in Prague and with her husband who is a chemist. Together their monthly income is 38 000 Kč (approx. 1490 €) after taxes. That money automatically goes each month to paying their mortgage (15 000 Kč, approx. 588 €) and another 5 000 Kč for the kids’ extracurricular activities, school expenses, and internet, meaning that the entire month’s expenses and food has to be covered with the remaining 18 000 Kč (approx. 706 €). They neither have a car nor smartphones, and they go on vacation to their grandmother’s cottage. Both husband and wife take their lunch to work every day and still there is nothing left to put into savings at the end of the month. Whenever there is an unplanned expense, it is always a bit of a problem. For instance, when all of them need to see the dentist at the same time, it adds up to several thousand crowns. “We can pay for it, but then we have to use money for food or shoes,” explains Anna. Recently, Anna had to put off getting her kids vaccinated against tick encephalitis and meningitis.

    “We were shocked by the minimum wage entry pay.”

    carpenter Tomáš K., father of three (Vsetínsko, 41)

  • Read the whole story
  • Tomáš is a carpenter who runs a small business in a little village in Vsetínsko with his friend. The work is seasonal so they have to take on bigger jobs in the nearby town to make up for the winter. Tomáš owns his own home, where he lives with his wife and three children. The construction and rennovating of his house takes a chunk out of his already limited income – at least their sheep and horse raising is partially covered by European subsidies. After a long parental leave, Tomáš’s wife is finishing up a basic teaching certification – she wants to work and, in fact, she needs to. As their kids get older, even covering the basics like preschool, extracurricular activities, transportation, and, at the very least, one vacation in the Czech Republic has become a problem. “My wife is working in a nursery as an assistant. We hoped that this would bring some financial stability to our lives, but instead we were shocked by the minimum wage entry pay.”

    “I didn’t have enough for a mortgage before and now it’s basically too late because of my age.”

    university associate professor Luboš H., single without children (Prague, 48)

  • Read the whole story
  • Luboš is an associate professor at a university in Prague. He doesn’t own a cottage nor a car, yet thanks to occasional side jobs or bonuses, he has enough for at least a vacation. His pay, 29 000 Kč (approx. 1 137 €) after taxes, is enough for him to live day-to-day in Prague. However, it is hard for him to make long-term plans. In spite of his prestigious social standing, the main obstacle he has to living a decent life is still something basic: housing. For ten years now, he lives on his own in a one-room apartment with a built-in bathroom and sees no chance for improvement. “I didn’t have enough for a mortgage before. And now even when I finally have a permanent employment contract, it is too late for one because of my age.“

    “Right now we’re just enjoying our baby and glad that the worst is behind us. The question is, what’s around the corner?”

    marketing specialist and new mother Agáta H. (Brno, 30)

  • Read the whole story
  • Agáta is a freelance marketing specialist. Before she got pregnant she contributed the same amount as her partner to the household. Her monthly income was 22-26 000 Kč (approx. 863-980 €). Pregnancy, however, changed this harmonious situation. A severe case of anemia forced Agáta to work less, although she was able to at least take on some jobs up until a month before the birth. To a large extent, the financial burden now lies on her partner’s shoulders. As if that weren’t enough, their landlord told them out of the blue that their apartment building would be sold. After much deliberation, they decided to get a mortgage, albeit slightly against their better judgement. Again, Jiří, her partner had to contribute more and, to make matters worse, the down payment ate up all of their savings. “Right now we’re just enjoying our baby and glad that the worst is behind us. The question is, what’s around the corner?”

    “I knew what I was getting into when I decided to study this – I don’t need to be rich, this is my calling. But after a few years a person gets burned out.”

    married social worker Jana M. (Liberec, 32)

  • Read the whole story
  • Jana is a social worker in Liberec. Her job is both extremely mentally demanding and time consuming, so she is not able to make money on the side. Regardless, as project manager she is making a mere 17 000Kč (approx. 667 €) after taxes. “I knew what I was getting into when I decided to study this – I don’t need to be rich, this is my calling. But after a few years a person gets burned out.” It is hard to make long-term plans living in the fifth largest city on an income under 20 000Kč (approx. 784 €). “Kuba doesn’t make much more than me. We got married recently, but so far kids are out of the picture – without savings we would run into serious problems by taking a chunk like that out of our income.”

    Who is behind it?

    Behind the minimum decent wage project is an independent and informal platform of experts who have been meeting to discuss the concept and various calculations since 2016. We started out first by defining the problems which are affecting the Czech Republic and also looked at how a minimum decent wage would react to such problems; furthermore, we familiarized ourselves with activities abroad associated this issue. Next, we further developed our definition and established the categories of expenses which are part of an ordinary life.

    Minimal Decent Wage in the Media

    An aspect which has yet to be stressed in the local debate is the fact that the Czech economy is built on the backs of low wage earners.

  • DVTV
  • Differentiating between frugality and poverty is key, as one is voluntary and the other is in no way a choice.

  • ČRo Plus
  • Employees, who are anxiously trying to make as much money as possible each month, are less likely to speak up when there is a problem at work.

  • Deník N
  • An even bigger blow to one’s dignity than not being able to buy something is knowing that it’s humanly impossible to work any more and yet wages are still not enough.

  • Respekt
  • Half of the population does not make a minimum decent wage, whereas the majority are women who make on average 1/5 less than men.

  • Česká televize
  • A person’s dignity is not merely defined by their income; however, one’s income is crucial as it can even indirectly affect other non-material aspects to a quality life.

  • Respekt
  • Will we simply look the other way as someone who works full-time or often even more needs a loan in order to cover expenses for things which are considered a basic standard?

  • Sondy
  • Long-term stress from potential financial troubles demonstrably worsens one’s mental health and also increases the risk of illness.

  • Deník Referendum
  • To decide whether to save on food or one’s health is an absurd notion. Nevertheless, this is the choice that half of us must make in one form or another.

  • Český rozhlas Plus
  • Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the difference between a decent wage and a minimum wage?

    A minimum wage is the result of political negotiations between unions, employees, and the state. A minimum decent wage, on the other hand, attempts to determine in numbers how much a worker needs to earn in order to be able cover expenses which will afford them a basic material standard.

    Is a decent wage being addressed abroad?

    Yes, a similar quantification of wage levels in relation to spending amounts is already being addressed abroad.

    Are you trying to dictate how people should live?

    In order to come up with a calculation, it was necessary to determine what the basic standard for each expense category was; however, our aim was not to dictate exactly what people should be able to acquire with such a wage. More so, the point was to determine the financial framework which an individual or family should have at their disposal. It’s then up to each household what they spend it on.

    How should employers deal with these demands, especially when they would like to pay their employees a minimum decent wage yet aren’t able to?

    We do not doubt that some employers have legitimate reasons for being unable to pay higher wages. Low wages are also afterall a consequence of how the entire economic system operates. The minimum decent wage instrument is thus also a contribution to the debate on how raising wages to a decent level will require structural reforms as well.   

    Can’t people live a decent life even with just a little bit of money?

    There is certainly more to living a quality and fulfilled life than merely a decent income – we also need, for example, healthy and quality relationships or satisfactory environments to live in.

    Nevertheless, the material aspect plays a central role in contemporary society and can also have even an indirect effect on those previously mentioned attributes of a quality life – when, for example, due to financial straits, there is no money left for healthy food or preventative healthcare or even when partners fight due to limited family funds.

    We are not trying to define what a decent life is with a minimum decent wage; rather, we are drawing attention to the amount of material security that is needed for a person to feel like they are on equal footing in society.

    Does it mean that without a decent wage, you don’t have a decent life?

    In practice, people have different possibilities and strategies for compensating for a lower income. Some own their own place, which lowers costs, or it could be that one person in the relationship, most often the man, has a higher income. In other cases, people have various self-sufficiency strategies. Other attempts to cope with a lower income can have negative effects, such as the necessity of multiple jobs or working overtime. Also problematic can be a dependency on a partner as a consequence of a lower wage.

    Would you like to introduce legislation?

    The goal is not to legislatively implement the calculated amount, for example, as a guarantee of a minimum decent wage. Rather, it should serve as a means to discuss wage and social benefit levels, or even seen as a long-term goal which Czech society can approach in various ways. It can also serve as a rationale for employees, unions, and employers when negotiating wages and salaries.

    Does it mean that the amount calculated for a minimum decent wage suffices and demands for higher wages are unnecessary?

    The calculated amount represents only the bare minimum for spending expenses and does not include any extras. It neither provides for individual special needs nor provisions for sustainable, quality or local goods. The amount in no way should serve as a ceiling for wage demands.

    Where will MDW go from here?

    Both the calculation and rationale behind a minimum decent wage are available to anyone who is concerned with wage levels in the Czech Republic and will allow MDW to become a widely used instrument and argument. The expert platform will update the amount each year according to actual costs associated with the included expense categories.

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