Cultural workers, including most of the cultural professionals employed in publicly owned or publicly supported cultural service systems – including the performing arts – are covered by the compulsory social security and pension systems. This is also the case for those who are more permanently employed by enterprises of the culture industries and by professional / trade associations in the fields of the arts and culture. This overall social security protection does not, however, cover free (self-employed) artists and free-lance cultural workers.
There have been attempts to improve the pension and social security system of self-employed artists and non-taxable grant receivers. The general Pension Law, the Act on the Pensions of Artists and Some Particular Groups of Short-Time Workers, has standardised the situation for freelance artists and professionals who are employed and working in the premises of an employer. The position of self-employed artists and free-lancers and persons whose work has been financed for long periods by non-taxable grants has remained weak. There have been demands for reforms in three issue areas:
- to include unemployment insurance and pension payments as part of the social security costs, even in the accumulation of shorter-term grants;
- to make the tax-deductions, pension and social security system of artists and freelancers relate better to the uneven and varied flow of artists’ income; and
- to improve the rights of artists as freelance entrepreneurs.
Some planning progress has been made in all of these issue areas but only one reform crossed the threshold of legislation. The government presented to Parliament a Bill where self-employed artists and those on short-time grants are given an opportunity to enrol in the pension and social security systems of agricultural entrepreneurs. Parliament passed the Bill and the amended Act entered into force on 1 January 2009. There is not yet information about how well the target groups have used this opportunity.