Many wage agreements contain opening clauses that allow company committees, often with the agreement of trade unions, to take into account the particular circumstances of their business. For example, in 2018, comparisons of the metallurgical industry, which employs 3.5 million people, have delayed, reduced or completely eliminated the cash payment due in 2019 in some companies facing serious difficulties. And the regime for the chemical industry in 2018 allowed companies to omit a lump sum payment of 280 euros when they were able to prove that they were facing particular economic difficulties. However, since the late 1990s, legislation has been put in place, which provides another way to set mandatory minimum rates for certain sectors. One reason was the treatment of low wages, often paid by non-German companies that employ their own nationals in Germany (detached workers). This Worker Detachment Act gives the Minister of Labour the power to extend collective agreements that do not cover 50% of employees in a sector, and to set minimum rates in sectors where there are no collective agreements when a specially created commission deems it appropriate. Nine branches, including construction, mail distribution, cleaning, garbage collection, meat safety and processing, have set minimum rates on the basis of collective agreements. In the area of social assistance, they are defined by the ministry on the basis of the recommendations of a commission. The government also sets minimum rates for temporary workers who use other laws. (This is in addition to the national minimum wage that was introduced in January 2015 – see below.) A collective agreement, a collective agreement (TC) or a collective agreement (CBA) is a written collective agreement negotiated by collective bargaining for workers by one or more unions with the management of a company (or with an employer organization) that regulates the commercial conditions of workers in the workplace. These include regulating workers` wages, benefits and obligations, as well as the obligations and responsibilities of the employer, and often includes rules for a dispute resolution process.
The IAB figures also contain information on the proportion of jobs and the proportion of employees covered by collective agreements. This shows that 25% of jobs are covered by industrial agreements and 2% by enterprise agreements. These figures are lower than those of employees, as collective bargaining is more likely to cover larger jobs than smaller ones.