"Is it so much to ask when we'd like to start a family in a town where we have people close to us and where we both work?"

Aleš, receptionist

  • Aleš is employed as a receptionist and at the same time is doing a combined degree. Because of his studies, he no longer has the energy or time to earn more money, but at least he donates blood plasma every two weeks. He already has scars on his hands from this, but he is glad to be able to help, and the reward for the donation - almost CZK 2,000 a month - would be missing from his household budget. Until recently, he shared a flat with several friends, but last year he moved into an apartment with his girlfriend and every penny counts. They'll improve professionally after finishing school, but if they have a child, they'll lose some of their partner's income during parenting time. "Now we can afford a small 2-bedroom flat on two salaries, I have no idea how we will manage living with children one day," reflects Aleš. "We are not tempted to move out of Prague. Is it so much to ask when we would like to start a family in a city where we have close people and where we both work?"

    "We'll pay for an unexpected expense, like the dentist, but we have to take it off our food or off new shoes."

    Anna, caregiver

  • Caregiver Anna lives with her two teenage children in Prague, her husband is a chemist. A significant part of their joint income is always handed over to the bank to pay off the mortgage, while thousands more are swallowed up by the children's clubs, school fees and the internet, leaving little left for food and other routine expenses. They don't have a car or smart phones, and they spend their holidays at their grandmother's cottage for free. She and her husband both bring their lunches to work from home, and at the end of the month they still save nothing from their paychecks. If the family has an unexpected expense, it's always a bit of a bummer. Like when they all need the dentist at the same time, it comes out to several thousand. "We'll pay for it, but we have to take it off food or shoes," Anna says. Her mother recently had to deny her children vaccinations against tick-borne encephalitis and meningococcal disease.

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

    Martina, nurse

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

    "I take leave when I'm sick. We can't afford another one now anyway."

    Zdenka, administrative assistant

  • Zdenka works in the office of a trading company. Her basic salary is only slightly above the minimum wage, the rest depends on how the company is currently doing, which Zdenka and many of her colleagues cannot practically influence from their position. Her commitment can be constantly huge every month, but the pay can vary by as much as ten thousand crowns in different months. If the variable part of the salary is at a lower level, the salary is barely enough to cover the rent and buy basic groceries. Most weekends and often even afternoons after her regular eight-hour shift at the office, Zdenka works part-time - cleaning or restocking the shelves at the supermarket. "Saving for a rainy day and planning my free time is almost impossible in my situation. I take my holidays when I'm sick. The children go to their grandparents for holidays, we can't afford more expensive holidays now anyway, maybe in a few years," says Zdenka.

    "We were shocked by the minimum wage entry pay."

    Tomáš, carpenter

  • 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 have a full-time professional job, but I have to apply for an allowance that we help arrange for our clients."

    Míla, social worker

  • Míla works in social services. She has a responsible and demanding job, she continues to educate herself and has even worked her way up to a managerial position. But the pay in this field is not commensurate with the demands. After the divorce, however, the financial situation became more complicated because Míla has sole custody of her school-age children. The sum of her wages and child support is simply not enough to run the family. She therefore had to apply for a housing allowance. "I have a full-time professional job, but I have to apply for the allowance that we help our clients in difficult social situations to arrange. I don't want to look for another job, this is the one that gives me the most meaning and joy, but when I see the salary I sometimes wonder if it would be better to go elsewhere and maybe finally give my children a little more."

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

    Agáta, marketing specialist and new mother

  • Agáta is a freelance marketing specialist. Before she got pregnant she contributed the same amount as her partner to the household. 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?”

    Minimální důstojná mzda © 2024 by Platforma pro minimální důstojnou mzdu is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0  |  The Web Provider  |  Code and Illustration Aneta Camova a Jakub Hanuš