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Minimum decent wage

0 czk*

in Prague 0 CZK

* salary before the taxation, 2022

 

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;

Read more

 

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.

Read More

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
0 in Prague
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

“We made it through, but it was like the kids didn’t even have a mother.”

Martina, nurse

  • Read the whole story
  • When Martina ended up alone with her children, she was unable to support them on just one salary, even though their father paid alimony – it was too low. So she had to work three jobs and there was no money for trips or vacations, but at least she was able to cover the basics and the household. However, if her children wanted to go to a summer camp or something broke down in the house, it was her mother who had to help out financially. When she had a tooth pulled, she went for six years without a replacement because there was no spare money, and she was not eligible for any social welfare benefits. “We made it through, but it was like the kids didn't even have a mother. She was either at work, being busy with household chores or sleeping,” she says with her children now grown.

    "Still at zero at the end of the month even with two jobs"

    Jan, theatre director

  • Read the whole story
  • Jan works as a core director of a large regional theatre and as an artistic director of an independent theatre in Prague – two full-time jobs with two half-time job equivalent salaries. With his two jobs, he makes a total of roughly the average monthly salary. But since each of his jobs is in a different city, he also has double the expenses for accommodation and travel. So at the end of the month, he’s usually broke anyway. “If I have an unexpected financial circumstance, such as going on sick leave due to an injury or having a broken electrical appliance, I simply don’t have the means,” he says.

    “I may have to go into debt, even though I know how risky it is”

    Luboš, food industry worker

  • Read the whole story
  • Luboš and his wife are blue-collar workers in Prague – both in top ranking positions in their field. The job involves night shifts, high responsibility, handling money, continuous operation, and stress. They have negotiated a pay increase for this year and therefore have a total gross income of CZK 80,000. Still, it is quite difficult for them to make ends meet in Prague. Luboš supports his mother, so he cannot manage to put a single crown aside, even though he does not pay a mortgage or rent, only the fees in his own home. He commutes to work in his 22-year-old car and every quarter of a year he has it serviced because a part has worn out. “I don’t feel safe in my old car anymore, I drive my whole family in it. So I guess I’ll have to go into debt, even though I know how risky that is these days,” he admits.

    A university-educated professional with experience – and existential problems

    Vendula, public servant

  • Read the whole story
  • Vendula works in public administration in a senior position with fifteen years of experience, yet at the end of the month she regularly has to consider whether she can afford to fill up her car’s gas tank, or whether she will have enough money left for her last weekend grocery shopping before payday. “The economic situation doesn’t allow me to deal with my health issues in peace, because even the shortest period of sick leave is a significant hit to my income, and with the ban on private business for government employees, I don’t have much chance to make up for it with another source of income,” she says. She has set her regular heat and electricity bills high enough so there is no risk of arrears, and has used the overpayments each year to pay for her holidays. This year, she fears she won't be able to afford it. She is afraid of emergencies, such as not being able to work for an extended period of time. “I have insurance, but if I happen to get sick for a reason other than what the insurance company recognizes, I’m ruined.” She does realise that, compared to the worsening situation of more and more people, she is still relatively well off with her own home. “But at the same time, I really don’t think that as a university-educated professional with many years of experience and a high level of work commitment, I should devote my energy and drive to solving existential problems”, she states.

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

    Anna M., caregiver

  • 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.

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

    Naděžda, divorced teacher

  • 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?”

    What to do about it?

    We are presenting nine concrete steps that can help improve the income situation in the Czech Republic:

    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
  • Not only people with low qualifications, but even those with higher education cannot reach a minimum decent wage – for example ordinary civil servants and clerks in town halls, social service workers, but also university teachers, theatre actors and philharmonic musicians.

  • Seznam Zprávy
  • The worst-case scenario is that you get an energy bill and you can’t afford to pay it. That’s the main risk. Costs are rising out of proportion to your income, putting pressure particularly on people who are below the minimum decent wage. For them, it’s an existential risk which, if not addressed with some help, they just can’t cope with

  • The Kolaps Podcast
  • We often hear about the importance of so-called financial literacy, which should prevent people from taking unfavourable loans or, in the worst case, ending up with asset seizures. It is certainly a useful thing to do, but before all the helpful lessons, it is essential to mention the fact that first you need to have a sufficient amount of money, which can then be subject to wise management

  • 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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