“As if from nowhere”: a small publishing house from Bavaria fights for survival

Photo of author
Written By Maya Cantina

Viechtach – Lichtung Verlag from the Bavarian Forest would have to pay almost 40,000 euros to the German pension insurer – due to a reassessment of the employment relationship of the two directors. This news came at the beginning of this year “as if out of the blue,” says Eva Bauernfeind, one of the women at the head of the small publishing house in Viechtach, Lower Bavaria.

Since the company was founded, the pension insurer has carried out an on-site audit in Viechtach every four years. There have never been any complaints, says Bauernfeind. Or even a hint that something is wrong. The current audit for the period 2019 to 2022 was different: the directors must be uniformly employed as employees, according to the pension insurer. Until now they have been marginally employed as directors; they carried out project work for the magazine or books on a freelance basis and for a fee. “That’s how we’ve done it for the past thirty years,” says Bauernfeind. “We’ve always had that construction.”

Also with her predecessor, the founder of the publishing house, Hubert Ettl. He is indignant: “The pension insurer is reviewing a situation that it has accepted for thirty years and is then retroactively demanding an amount that is horrible for us.” That’s outrageous.

Pension insurance companies accuse Lichtung Verlag from Bavaria of “false self-employment”.

Why then this reassessment for the period between 2019 and 2022? Bauernfeind thinks that pension insurance has simply put a new focus. She has heard similar things from other cultural institutions, but no one wants to come forward. At AZ’s request, the German pension insurance company does not want to provide information about the specific case for data protection reasons. It only transmits information “for general classification”.

The pension insurance strives for so-called false self-employment. If the so-called independent part of the activity is carried out exclusively because of the dependent employment relationship, this is the case according to the information. Whether this also applies to Lichtung Verlag remains unanswered. Just like the question why this sudden recalibration came about and whether other cultural companies could be affected by this.

Self-employment must be reduced, says a social law specialist

Albrecht Philipp has more answers. These kinds of things actually happen relatively often, says the specialized social law lawyer in Munich. He attributes these cases to the stricter case law of the Federal Social Court. This is driven by a desire to largely suppress independence, he says. Since then, editors and cultural companies have had much less room to maneuver when it comes to freelance work.

A reassessment would usually take place if the pension insurance discovered that freelancers, for example, used the work equipment of the employer where they worked, worked at the same location or worked according to publication dates. Then they were ‘integrated’.

“A huge wave of solidarity,” says the general manager

At the end of March, the small publishing house from the Bavarian Forest celebrated its new book “Kafka’s journey through the hunchbacked world” big at the Leipzig Book Fair – Kristina Pöschl, one of the two directors, had to hand in her last book reserves – now they are busy packing rescue packages. Because the publisher didn’t want to just give up. The surprise packages are intended to raise money: poetry, prose and illustrated books are offered.

The publishing house is currently experiencing “an enormous wave of solidarity,” says Bauernfeind. You’re not out of the woods yet. “But it helps to climb the mountain.” They would get an extra helper at the publishing house who would put together the rescue packages because they could no longer keep up with the packing. Artists offered benefit concerts and donations came in.

They said the additional payment would be made within a month. The publisher could now negotiate payment in installments over two years. An objection has also been filed against the decision. “We certainly want to continue,” says Bauernfeind. There are currently discussions about how this could be implemented. In the future, the two directors will no longer be allowed to do their project work on a freelance basis. “We have to get ourselves in order first.”


Please note: You can order the rescue book packages at 09942/2711, the email addresslichtung-verlag@t-online.de or on the publisher’s website:lichtung-verlag.de



Source link

Leave a Comment

ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT