Cleaning staff in rhon clinics: systematically exploited for years

Rhon clinics are alleged to have circumvented the statutory minimum wage for cleaning staff – according to customs documents.

A Munich hospital belonging to Rhon-Kliniken. Image: imago / euroluftbild.de

The private Rhon Group is alleged to have systematically exploited cleaning staff in its hospitals for years. This is the result of investigations by the customs authorities, the Suddeutsche Zeitung reports from documents available to it.

According to the report, employees were put under pressure to work unpaid overtime. The group, which operates more than 40 hospitals with 17,000 beds nationwide, is said to have circumvented the statutory minimum wage in this way.

Rhon cleaning staff reported to customs that they had been threatened with warnings if they did not work longer hours. However, they were not allowed to charge for the extra work. Out of fear of losing their jobs, they had not fought back. Rhon AG rejects the accusations. The criticism is unjustified, and the collective bargaining agreements have been observed.

Rhon-Klinikum AG is one of Germany’s leading private hospital groups. It is headquartered in Bad Neustadt in northern Bavaria and operates six of its own cleaning companies with several thousand employees, almost all of whom are women. They clean patients’ rooms, operating theaters and all other wards. According to the report, the public prosecutor’s office in Wurzburg is investigating numerous managers at Rhon’s cleaning subsidiaries for withholding minimum wages from 2007 to 2011.

In addition, social security insurers are demanding back payments in the tens of millions for contributions not paid. Rhon AG rejects this as well and speaks of false calculations. At a meeting on Wednesday at the German Pension Insurance in Nuremberg with representatives of Rhon, an attempt was to be made to find a solution, the newspaper reports.

Subject to the approval of the Federal Cartel Office, a large part of the hospitals will be sold for three billion euros to Helios, the hospital subsidiary of the Fresenius medical group. This would create the largest private hospital group in Europe.

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