In the future, mini-jobbers should be able to increase their working hours and earnings without social security contributions wiping out their wage increase.

This is provided for in a new draft law by the Federal Ministry of Labor.

In addition to raising the mini-job earnings limit from the previous 450 to 520 euros per month, Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) also wants to make the transition to regular employment subject to contributions easier.

Politically, the project is linked to the recently presented bill to raise the general minimum wage to 12 euros per hour.

Higher contributions for employers

Dietrich Creutzburg

Business correspondent in Berlin.

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The new regulation above the mini-job limit should "help prevent mini-jobs from being misused as a substitute for regular employment," says the new draft, which is available to the FAZ.

So far, mini-jobbers have not had to pay their own social security contributions.

But from 451 euros onwards, a tax rate of initially around 10 percent on all earnings is suddenly due;

this then rises gradually in a zone up to 1300 euros to the regular employee share of around 20 percent.

"In this respect, according to the previous contribution law, the net wage falls by around 45 euros, so that a net wage of more than 450 euros is only achieved again from a gross wage of around 510 euros," explains the draft law.

In future, the employee share of social security contributions – at the then higher mini-job limit of 520 euros – will begin without such a jump;

moreover, its further increase is distributed over a zone extended up to 1600 euros.

In return, Heil plans higher contributions for employers above the earnings limit.

So far, they have had to pay an increased tax rate of 28 percent on mini jobs, but this immediately falls back to the regular 20 percent.

In future, on the other hand, their tax rate is to gradually fall to the standard rate – mirroring the gentler increase for employees.

Raising the mini-job limit as such is actually rejected by the unions, SPD and Greens.

In the coalition negotiations, however, the FDP had made its approval of the higher minimum wage dependent on this.

Otherwise, the maximum working time for mini-jobbers would have fallen from 10.5 to 8.6 hours per week without their account benefiting from the higher minimum wage.

However, many labor market economists take a fundamentally critical view of mini-jobs.

"The minimum wage increase would actually have been a good lever to at least push back this problematic form of employment a little further," says Holger Bonin, research director of the Bonn Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

He sees no effective solution in the new tax regulation to defuse the "part-time trap" for women, which has also been much criticized politically: the social security burden will continue to rise progressively in the lower earnings bracket - and for second earners this will continue to coincide with a very high tax progression.

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