Currently I see a very worrying trend in the startup scene. A trend that circumvents everything workers fought for in Germany. We finally will get a minimum wage law in Germany on 1st of January 2015. But it looks like lots of startups don’t like that.

The proposed federal minimum wage of €8.50 per hour – which would also apply to interns, known in German as Praktikanten – would have fatal consequences for the startup scene. In nearly every startup, these Praktikanten are working for less money or are waiving part of a full salary, and mostly for longer periods than the proposed minimum wage exemption of six weeks.

This is a quote from Christoph Gerlinger of the German Startups Group.

And for me this is pretty disgusting. Basically he says that his business model is build on top of people that work for nearly nothing.

And it gets even worse. Why should you hire workers in the first place? Just create a platform where you are an intermediary between the customer and your workforce. Like Uber Pop, Helpling or others are doing right now.

This removes all sorts of problems:

  • Minimum wage laws? Don’t care. Those workers just have to take what we give them. Which translates to $3 per hour with Uber.
  • Social insurance contribution, health insurance? Those workers have to deal with those pesky things. Why do we need to deal with that? It’s their health, not ours.
  • Payed vacation? What? Don’t know that word.
  • Customers that have problems? Let them rate the worker and remove those with a rating worse that 4.6 out of 5 from the system. Job protection? Bwahahaha. Nope.
  • Insurances for car accidents and other stuff? Oh, sure. The workers will deal with all of that. For sure. Pinky promise.

And the best of it all: you only pay your workers if they actually work. You don’t need to have workers “in stock” for peak demands.

I don’t want this to be our future. The workers in Europe fought hard for their rights. I want that startups take responsibilities for their workforce. I want them to treat them as humans. As someone who earns respect. And out of respect for your workforce you should pay them a decent wage and give them all the things a worker can expect from a company.

The buzzword for this kind of startups is “the new sharing economy”. And sharing should also mean that you share your profits. And take responsibility.

Let’s build a “caring economy” instead.

Portrait photo of Bodo Tasche
Bodo Tasche
Polyglot Developer

I am a freelance polyglot developer and love HTML5, testing, TypeScript, Ruby and Elixir. In the last 20 years I have been in lots of different roles, from Java to Elixir, from backend developer at a 3 people team in an early phase startup to the CTO of a web agency. Some of my work can be seen on my projects page.

Need help developing your MVP or to add new features into your current app? Need a CTO or a front/backend developer for hire? Send me an email.