Berlin • German lawmakers on Thursday approved the introduction of the country's first national minimum wage, a triumph for its main center-left party that a long-skeptical Chancellor Angela Merkel described as a "painful" political compromise.
Most workers in Europe's biggest economy will be guaranteed at least $11.60 per hour under the legislation, which takes effect Jan. 1. Some employers will have two years to phase in the minimum wage; under-18s will be exempted, as will the long-term unemployed for six months after they return to work.
Merkel's government took the step at the insistence of her coalition partners since last December, the center-left Social Democrats. They joined the government after Merkel's conservatives won elections last year but fell short of a parliamentary majority.