The Bayerische Bühnenversorgung (supplementary retirement institution for German stage workers) – protection for theatre artists in old age and in the event of occupational disability
Artists and cultural workers (over the age of 17) who are employed by a theatre in Germany and work (predominantly) in an artistic capacity receive old-age insurance – in addition to pension insurance – as well as insurance coverage against occupational disability and survivors' insurance through the Versorgungsanstalt der Deutschen Bühnen (VddB).
It is important to note that this insurance is compulsory and binding for salaried employees – artistic employees have no choice about taking out such insurance. This also applies to artists residing abroad who are working as guest performers at a German theatre, for example.
The insurance relationship is established automatically when the artist starts working for a theatre and is required by law. It ends when the stage employee leaves the employment relationship. Continued insurance coverage is possible for periods between engagements (for a minimum monthly amount of 12.50 euros) (Leaflet 20 - Continued Insurance). Otherwise you are considered to be covered under a non-contributory plan, which means that you are not entitled to all benefits (Leaflet 21 - Non-contributory Insurance).
The monthly contribution for insured parties is 9% of the monthly income that is subject to contributions (the income is subject to contributions up to a fixed monthly income threshold). Half of the contributions are paid by the theatre (employer's contribution) and half by the insured party (employee's contribution), with the employer withholding the employee's contribution from the wages paid and transferring the total contribution to the Bayerische Versorgungskammer.
Theatres are obligated to inform their salaried employees about the insurance and register them with the VddB (electronic registration via the employer portal of the pension institution). They are also responsible for calculating, paying and settling the contributions.
The Bayerische Versorgungskammer provides extensive information – information sheets, FAQs – on questions concerning insurance, contributions, guest performances, voluntary insurance, etc. on its website, some of which is available in English.
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As of 2017 self-employed artists have been able to take out voluntary insurance if certain conditions are met:
Voluntarily insured parties are entitled to old-age, occupational disability and survivors' benefits; they are not entitled to any reimbursement of contributions or compensation.
You can apply for insurance coverage using the relevant forms, which can be found here. You will need to pay a monthly basic contribution of 12.50 euros and may also pay an additional optional contribution (up to 16% of the income threshold).
Detailed information can be found here: information sheet Freiwillige Versicherung selbstständiger freier Künstler (voluntary insurance for self-employed freelance artists, in German only).
No. Artists from abroad who are employed by a theatre in Germany are also subject to the obligation to take out this compulsory insurance, even if the employment is only temporary.
Under certain conditions, it is possible to have contributions reimbursed in full or on a pro rata basis. See the Leaflet 22 - Reimbursement of contributions and severance pay for more details
If you reside abroad and work regularly at theatres in Germany, you can choose to continue insuring yourself between engagement, paying a minimum contribution of EUR12.50. You can then receive what is known as "Ruhegeld" (pension) from the retirement institution in old age. These benefits can also be paid out abroad.
Voluntary continued insurance between engagements is recommended, even though the "Ruhegeld" (pension) is usually not very high. The amount of the pension is determined by a percentage of the contributions paid. The rates vary depending on the period for which a contribution has been paid and on the year of birth and the age at which the contributions were paid.
You must submit an application for the old age pension and the reimbursement of contributions.
Detailed information, application forms, etc. can be found in the download centre on the website.
Special regulations known as "Tänzerabfindung" (dancers' compensation) apply to dancers. You can find information on the Tänzerabfindung and how to apply for it here.