Freelancers want more security in bogus self-employment exams

Self-employed associations are calling for more clarity in the so-called status determination procedure, which the German Pension Insurance (DRV) carries out on request or in suspected cases of bogus self-employment. The VGSD represents many IT self-employed people in Germany – CEO Andreas Lutz gives tips and makes demands.

c’t: With regard to the status determination procedure, what is your most important advice to the self-employed?

dr Andrew Lutz: No false modesty! I would advise the self-employed to appear a little bigger than they are: even as a sole proprietorship with an additional fantasy name and corresponding email address. Stationery with a logo is recommended, because the pension insurance uses the invoices to check whether you are appearing entrepreneurial. It is also worth investing in checking the framework agreement and order procedure with a social law expert.

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c’t: What pitfalls are there for IT people?

Lutz: IT professionals in particular tend to provide very precise information on the individual services provided, sometimes even to the minute, when invoicing, for example. The pension insurance regularly concludes from such precise time information that the client monitors the self-employed particularly closely – which in turn is taken as an indication of dependent employment.

dr  Andreas Lutz is Chairman of the Board of the Association of Founders and Self-Employed Germany e.  V.., VGSD e.  V

dr  Andreas Lutz is Chairman of the Board of the Association of Founders and Self-Employed Germany e.  V.., VGSD e.  V

dr Andreas Lutz is Chairman of the Board of the Association of Founders and Self-Employed Germany e. v.

c’t: Do you advise applying for a status determination procedure voluntarily?

Lutz: no At least not without consulting a lawyer, not even without consulting the client, otherwise you lose the job.

“I wish I had more respect for this life choice.”

c’t: How much security does a positive decision give?

Lutz: The problem is that a notice stating self-employment does not refer to the person or their activity, but only to an individual order. So they don’t give you any security for future orders. That’s what we would wish for: For example, that a SAP consultant would receive a statement for all his activities as an SAP consultant. But the DRV reserves the right to judge differently again and again and also retrospectively.

c’t: Isn’t it right when the DRV attaches great importance to social security?

Lutz: On the one hand: The self-employed want to make their own decisions, pass on their knowledge and work for different clients. I wish I had more respect for this life choice.

On the other hand, the self-employed, especially in IT, are very important for the entire economy. They bring new knowledge into companies and alleviate the shortage of skilled workers. If there is a lack of know-how, say knowledge of a programming language, then a company would first have to send employees for further training – but the skill is needed immediately. The self-employed fill such gaps.

IT job market: Good opportunities for freelancers

The leading intermediaries of IT professionals expect strong sales growth. According to Bitkom, there were 86,000 vacancies for IT specialists at the end of 2020.

c’t: What are your demands on politicians?

Lutz: From our point of view, the DRV should not decide, but a party without conflicts of interest. In terms of content, we would like clear criteria for independence. The amount of the fee is still not used as a criterion – we think that is wrong. The procedure itself should be carried out digitally, preferably with an online quick test. Decisions should provide legal certainty and be valid until a review is carried out.

Very important: As long as the legal situation is so uncertain, the sanctions must not be so drastic. This practice sometimes leads to insolvencies and to the fact that large companies can only commission the self-employed in Germany to a limited extent. This endangers the urgently needed transformation of our economy.

c’t 17/22


In c’t 17/2022 we examine what artificial intelligence actually achieves today. We present apps and gadgets for the holiday and test bicycle navigation systems so that you never take detours again. Also in the test: energy cost measuring devices, with which you can track down energy guzzlers in the household, web whiteboards for digital meetings and inverters for balcony power plants. You can also find out how the James Web space telescope works in the current c’t.


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