SOCIAL INSURANCE FOR ARTISTS IN AUSTRIA
Position Paper (PDF Download)
Vienna, May 24, 2023
We, the Kulturrat Österreich, the Dachverband der Österreichischen Filmschaffenden, IG Autorinnen Autoren, IG Freie Musikschaffende, IG Freie Theaterarbeit, Initiative Tanz und Bewegungskunst Österreich, WORKING CONDITIONS - Working Group of Wiener Perspektive as well as the trade union initiative vidaflex, have joined forces to form a solidary working group. We have set ourselves the goal of achieving a long overdue adjustment of social security benefits for artists and cultural workers in line with the actual working realities.
We are of the opinion that the applicable labor law must also be observed in the arts and culture sector, but would like to point out that in numerous cases it is not possible to clearly classify the activity as "self-employed" or "dependent".
Why do we so urgently need a fundamental reform of the social security systems?
The number of atypical or hybrid employees, new self-employed and especially solo self-employed in the arts and culture sector is growing steadily.
The classic constellation of "employer-employee" with continuous and, above all, permanent employment relationships exists in the arts and culture primarily for those employed in organization and administration in theaters and museums, festivals, publishing houses, and film production companies.
A great many artists work independently. For example, actors in the visual arts, authors, stage and costume designers, composers, choreographers, etc. mostly belong to the group of the new self-employed, with most of them working as solo self-employed. In addition to this group, there are also many atypical or hybrid employees with changing forms of employment and contracts, e.g. artists who work on individual projects for a short time or who are employed on a part-time basis several times.
For solo self-employed, new self-employed, atypical or hybrid employees and for project-based work, the current regulations of the social security systems, which date back to the last century, do not go far enough and do not offer sufficient protection - neither in case of illness nor in case of unemployment and regarding pension claims.
Since the number of precariously employed and poorly paid people in the arts and culture sector is above average, phases of unemployment and lack of insurance periods have even more severe effects here: often there is no or only a low entitlement to unemployment benefits, only low pension contributions or only a small number of contribution months; other AMS benefits such as further training and retraining offers are also not accessible to those affected, but at the same time cannot be afforded by the individual without AMS support due to the low earnings.
Paradoxically, benefits from the contributions paid are often also at risk. If there are too few contribution months in unemployment insurance, no entitlement arises for the time being - even though contributions have been paid. The same applies to pension entitlements, which are only paid out once 180 contribution months have been reached - fewer months currently result in no entitlement.
We have therefore developed a list of demands with measures that could be implemented quickly and offer simple and consistent social security benefits for atypical or hybrid and self-employed artists and cultural workers:
1. SOLO-INDEPENDENT IN ART AND CULTURE
Self-employed people who work entirely on their own and have no employees cannot be equated with the classic image of a "company" (with one or more owners and employees). In order to clearly define this group, which is increasingly represented in the arts and culture sector, we work with the term "solo self-employed".
We consider adjustments in social security benefits for this group - especially in health insurance - to be indispensable: Since solo self-employed workers are dependent on their own labor to generate their income, sick leave can lead to a 100 percent loss of income and thus to an immediate threat to their existence. Solo self-employed workers therefore urgently need sick pay from the 4th day.
We therefore demand:
- Sickness benefit from the 4th day for solo self-employed in the standard system - at least at the level of the at-risk-of-poverty threshold.
- In addition, as a first step in this direction, the abolition of the minimum contribution to the voluntary supplementary health insurance for self-employed persons of the SVS and/or the introduction of a social graduation, for example a contribution exemption up to the poverty risk threshold.
- In both cases, sickness benefits at least at a subsistence level even if income was low - even if actual earned income was lower.
2. ATYPICAL AND HYBRID EMPLOYMENT RELATIONSHIPS
Short-term employment and employment on a daily basis have become increasingly common in the arts and culture sector, especially since the abolition of the daily marginal earnings threshold, and bring numerous disadvantages to those affected.
We therefore demand:
- Inclusion of employees in all parts of the compulsory insurance (pension insurance, health insurance, accident insurance, unemployment insurance) if the monthly ASVG marginal earnings limit is exceeded - immediately at the time of employment and regardless of whether it is a single employment relationship, several daily jobs or other marginal jobs (with different employers).
3. UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Atypical or hybrid employees as well as self-employed artists and cultural workers need easier access to an unemployment insurance that guarantees fast and flexible financial security in times of non-employment, just as it does for traditional employees.
We therefore demand:
- Deletion of Section 12(1)(2) of the AlVG: Existing compulsory pension insurance alone should no longer be an obstacle to the definition of unemployment.
- Extending eligibility for unemployment benefits for short-term employment: Initial phases to count double.
- The possibility of the suspension of the self-employed activity should be made possible for all self-employed activities - also retroactively, but at least with possible effectiveness from the date of the notification
The entry periods into the voluntary unemployment insurance of the SVS for self-employed persons are currently not practicable with the only entry option "six months from the notification of the start of pension insurance according to GSVG or FSVG" and then only again after 8, 16, 24... years.
We therefore demand:
- Improve accessibility to voluntary unemployment insurance for SVS self-employed workers by providing more flexibility in the timing of entry points.
- Self-employed women aged 60 and over and men aged 63 and over should no longer be automatically excluded from voluntary unemployment insurance under the SVS if they have previously paid into it for a period to be determined.
- Expansion of the subsidy possibilities of the Artists' Social Insurance Fund (KSVF): The subsidy must also be available for voluntary extensions of insurance coverage (e.g. unemployment insurance, family insurance, supplementary health insurance, etc.). The maximum subsidy amount must be increased.
4. complicated employment relationships need CONSULTATION.
Working life in the arts and cultural sector is multifaceted and can rarely be categorized exclusively as a classic employment relationship. Information and advice provided by social security institutions are always complicated and ambiguous and do not do justice to the needs and, above all, the linguistic diversity of artists and cultural workers working in Austria.
We therefore demand:
- The establishment of a multilingual service or ombudsman office for arts and culture at the SVS, using the staff positions already available for this purpose.
As a meaningful next step, we propose an appointment of our working group with representatives of BMKÖS, BMAW, Ministry of Social Affairs, AMS, ÖGK, SVS and KSVF and ask for early feedback in this regard.
We look forward to a constructive exchange and good cooperation!
Cultural Council Austria
Umbrella organization of Austrian filmmakers
IG Authors Authors
IG Free Musicians
IG Independent Theater Work
Initiative Dance and Movement Art Austria
WORKING CONDITIONS - Working Group of Vienna Perspective
vidaflex, Association of One-Person Businesses Austria
Please send inquiries to:
Nadja Puttner - Industry Spokesperson for Arts and Culture at the trade union initiative vidaflex