What must be considered when one takes up work abroad and the status of an artist there generally differs from that in the home country?
touring artists collects questions that may arise in the course of cross-border activities. By way of introduction to the subject, we will examine one example of the different statuses in Germany and France. Additional examples will follow and we are grateful for feedback from artists and persons engaged in the cultural sector (please send an e-mail to the touring artists editorial team: firstname.lastname@example.org).
A dancer from Toulouse accepts a three-month engagement at a theatre in Stuttgart. The theatre wants to conclude a fixed-fee contract with her. What factors must be considered?
According to French law, performing artists (‘artistes du spectacle’) are considered employees in France. They receive employment contracts even for short-term engagements at a theatre, with festival organisers etc. Their status as employees is stipulated by law and cannot be chosen freely - provided that the activity is not listed in the commercial register. Actors, choreographers, vaudevillians, musicians, extras, conductors, arrangers, directors etc. are considered ‘artistes du spectacle’.
This compulsory employee status allows performing artists and stage technicians in France to benefit from a special unemployment insurance scheme, which applies in the period between two engagements (‘intermittent du spectacle’). It presupposes that an artist is employed for a certain number of working days per year: they must demonstrate that they have worked 507 hours within a period of 12 months. The number of employment contracts is irrelevant. Any periods of work can be added up and employment contracts abroad (for engagements as an employee) are partly recognized. However, the system does not take into account fixed-fee contracts (for self-employed people).
If the dancer in the example pertaining to Germany receives a fixed-fee contract as a self-employed person and not an employment contract, she cannot claim the days she works in Germany in France. Depending on the number of days she works in Germany, she may lose her entitlement to unemployment insurance between two engagements and thus her planning security and social security.
Organisers in Germany should be aware of this situation. Short-term employment for a performing artist may indeed be more complex but could act as a remedy to the loss of benefits.
Additional information: If the French dancer receives an employment contract in Germany, France will credit her a certain number of working hours per working day. After completing the engagement, she will need the U1 form for the French authorities (Pôle emploi). This form serves to certify any periods of coverage in another country within the EU and plays a role in the calculation of unemployment benefits. Information on the U1 form and its use can be found here.
The assumed employee status also applies in part to performing artists from abroad who are working temporarily in France:
It applies unreservedly to artists from countries outside the European Economic Area.
Performing artists from countries within the EU (regardless of their nationality) who are freelancers in their home countries can also be freelancers in France, provided certain conditions are met. (The European Court of Justice ruled in 2006 that the assumed employee status limits the freedom of movement of workers.) Accordingly, a German freelance performing artist can work temporarily in France and issue an invoice for his/her work. In practice, however, French organisers are often not aware of this rule or invoices are rejected for other reasons. In such situations, they insist on engaging the artist as an employee.
If they have questions regarding this topic, performing artists and theatre organisers in Germany may contact MobiCulture, for example.
Additional points of contact include ARTCENA (in the areas of theatre, street art and circus), IRMA (in the area of music) and CN D (in the area of dance).