FFE Magazine

Foreign nurses overworked, underpaid in Germany


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German news site Deutsche Welle (DW) has revealed one dark secret about nurses who finally come to Germany thinking to fulfill their dreams: many end up being exploited by private nursing companies.


In their article entitled ‘Foreign nurses exploited by unfair private contracts,’ DW found out that many foreign nurses hired from southern Europe become unwittingly bound to unfair private contracts with the nursing companies. However, foreign nurses from other countries might as well fall into the same labour trap.



According to findings by DW, Spanish nurses experience the following types of exploitation in private nursing companies:

  • Contract penalties. Those wishing to leave their jobs are required to pay a penalty of 6,600 to €10,000.
  • Low wages. Foreign nurses earn 30–40% less compared to public sector or social service nurses.
  • Unpaid overtime. Foreign nurses are paid only a fraction of the total hours rendered daily.
  • Poor working conditions.
  • Contracts are unclear or aren’t explained properly due to language barrier.
  • No representation and protection from a worker’s council.



Secretary of German trade union Ver.di, Kalle Kunkel commented that this type of contract and working condition is ‘a political scandal’ and ‘exploitation of human resources.’


This expose also hurts Germany’s prospects of attracting more foreign workers in the medical field. According to industry experts, the country will face a deficit of 220,000 skilled health workers by the end of the decade if gaps in jobs are not filled.


Kunkel said ‘It cannot be that we, as German companies, tap into the know-how of other countries and then force costs on those workers.’






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