FAQ + Tips

Basics for Beginners

Basics for Beginners

New at Deutsche Welle - freelance?

You should know your rights. Here are the 10 basics:


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Freelance = Delivering work, collecting remuneration and Ciao?

No! Anyone who regularly works for DW acquires rights. These include leave, sickness benefit, maternity benefit, childcare allowance and, where applicable, payments upon termination. The prerequisite is to have an "employee-like legal relationship" with DW and thus fall under the TVAP (collective agreement for employee-like persons).


When do I fall under the TVAP?

The following conditions must be met within the last 6 calendar months:

  1. Economic dependency
    This means that you earn more than half of your total gross remuneration at DW or other ARD institutions (or one third for artistic, journalistic or literary services).

  2. Need for social security
    This means that you were contractually bound for at least 42 days (including holidays) for Deutsche Welle and other ARD institutions during this period and did not earn more than € 88,000 in the calendar year before.

  3. You are
    ...neither a permanent employee of DW, nor (co-) owner of a business that works for DW, nor a temporary worker, nor a student who is exempt from social insurance, nor an employee permanently resident abroad and working there, nor a pensioner: In all these cases, the "TVAP" does NOT apply.


At https://dw.verdi.de/tarif/freie  you can find all collective agreements and service agreements for the free, including the TVAP. (Yet in German. We think that an international broadcaster like DW should provide its staff with an English translation and have asked DW to publish it.) 

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Holiday money

From half a year - if the conditions mentioned under 1. are fulfilled - you are entitled to holidays. For the first half of the year, DW does not take into account either the collective agreement entitlement of 31/2 or the statutory minimum entitlement of 10 days. We recommend that you claim this holiday entitlement from DW in good time, in order not to lose any possible legal entitlement to it. For more information, see https://dw.verdi.de/service/faq/   "Holiday Money" and "Holiday entitlement after long illness".  


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Payments In Case of Pregnancy

Those who fall under the TVAP and are pregnant are entitled to additional payments. In addition, 72 employment days must be available in the current or previous calendar year. More a https://dw.verdi.de/service/faq  "Payments In Case of Pregnancy".



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Sick Benefit Supplement

Those who fall under the TVAP and fall ill are entitled to a sick pay allowance. In addition, 72 employment days must be available in the current or previous calendar year. The catch: You must have a sick leave of at least 8 days in order to receive the sick pay supplement, which is then paid from the first day of illness. More under https://dw.verdi.de/service/faq/  "Sick Benefit Supplement" and Holiday entitlement after long illness .



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Childcare Subsidy

Whoever falls under the TVAP receives a subsidy for the accommodation of children not (yet) of school age in kindergartens or similar institutions. You must have worked on 85 days of employment in the current or previous calendar year. More at https://dw.verdi.de/service/faq "Childcare Subsidy".



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Rundfunk Pension Fund

At the Rundfunk pension fund, employees and employers each pay 4% of the gross salary. DW also participates in the payment of contributions to Presseversorgungswerk. Registration and information on these recommended supplementary pension options is available at http://www.pensionskasse-rundfunk.de und https://www.presse-versorgung.de .




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In order to provide you as a freelancer with a minimum of security, DW and the unions negotiated regulations to alleviate the consequences of job losses.

a) Curtailment (Einschränkung)
If DW intends to reduce your future work assignments so that the total remuneration falls below 80% of the previous year's total, it can send you a notice of restriction ("Einschränkungsmitteilung"). This is followed by a notification period that depends on the length of employment (see below). If the total fees fall below 80% within this period, you will receive a compensation payment, thereafter no more.

A significant restriction is also possible without notice of restriction: If, after one year, you find that your total remuneration has fallen below 80% of the previous year's total, you can have this checked by applying to the personnel department / fees in the first quarter of the following year and are entitled to a compensation payment depending on the length of employment.

If you have less than 72 calendar days in a calendar year, you can ask DW to either keep you busy or quit. Find more at https://dw.verdi.de/service/faq "Too Few Shifts: What Now?"

If DW pronounces a termination, the freelance work ends after expiry of the notification period (see below). You are then entitled to a transitional allowance, which depends on your age and length of employment. This requires at least 5 consecutive years of employment.

Calculation + further information under https://dw.verdi.de/service/faq "Termination".


The notification period is

  • two calendar months after two consecutive years of employment,
  • three calendar months after three consecutive years of employment,
  • six calendar months after six consecutive years of employment and
  • twelve calendar months after ten consecutive years of employment.


Unfortunately, it happens time and again that freelancers are neither restricted nor terminated, but are slowly "sneaked out" by continuous reduction. This is cheaper for DW and makes less noise. At the end of the day, freelancers pay for this through losses in pay and pensions. At the latest then it is worth thinking about a status suit and claiming the right to a permanent position (in particular as an employee who does not work for the program): ver.di members receive advice and enjoy legal protection.

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Forecast ("Prognose") / Fee Framework Agreement ("Honorar-Rahmenvertrag")

Without an outline fee agreement, freelance work is limited to a maximum of 96 working days per year. The restriction is designed to deter status lawsuits and is called "Prognose". In the case of framework fee agreements, this restriction is lifted. In purely employment law, however, there is no difference between working at "Prognose" or with a fee framework agreement.


 Temporary fee framework contracts can be awarded

  • to those who have influence on the content of the programme ("Programm Gestaltende"). The fact of influencing the content serves as the reason for time limitation.
  • to those who do not engage in any kind of programme planning and indeed hardly have any influence at all on content  ("Nicht Programm Gestaltende = NPG") . DW must give a reason for setting a time limit here ("Befristungsgrund")

"Programm Gestaltende", usually active as an editor, are entitled to an unlimited fee framework agreement with a fee guarantee of 50% of the total fee from the last limited framework agreement from the 10th year onwards. NPG - Free do not receive an unlimited contract.

The non-renewal of a limited fee framework contract must be announced in due time. Unlimited fee framework agreements can also be terminated after expiry of this period. The deadlines depend on the length of uninterrupted work on the basis of framework fee agreements. Find more at https://dw.verdi.de/service/faq "Time Limitation
of framework fee agreements"
and https://dw.verdi.de/service/international "programmgestaltend" / "nicht programmgestaltend".

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Inactive Employment Relationship

With the number of uninterrupted membership of the "Collective Agreement Employee-like" TVAP, rights grow which have a financial impact and - to a limited extent - secure the job. An interruption should therefore be avoided if possible. In the case of compelling personal requirements, the employee-like relationship may therefore be suspended, in certain cases - e.g. in the case of longer illness or parental leave - also retroactively! For more information, see https://dw.verdi.de/service/faq "Freelancers: What To Do in Case of Prolonged Illness?" 

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ver.di - Membership right from the start




There are many good reasons for this:

  • Minimum fees, holiday entitlement, sick pay, childcare allowance, etc. are the result of collective bargaining and negotiations with us, the trade unions. They are regulated in collective agreements that are not carved in stone. Where unions are weak, long-fought rights can quickly be lost. This then applies to both the unionised and free riders who enjoy protection under collective bargaining agreements without lifting a finger.
  • Conversely, strong unions can achieve improvements especially if members are active. Freelancers as well as permanent employees are allowed to strike: https://dw.verdi.de/service/international "Strike"
  • As a member of ver.di you are part of a large trade union network. We are represented on the ground by committed members, but we also always set our eyes on the political environment.
  • We are transparent: You will not only be informed about what concerns us and you internally via our website dw.verdi.de but also via EMail and at regular member meetings. There you can bring in vice versa what moves you.
  • We are the union for all employees at DW: Justice must apply to everyone, not only to selected interest groups or professional groups!
  • In many cases good advice is precious and possibly disputed matters have to be settled in court. ver.di offers legal protection and competent advice. As with any legal insurance: close the stable door before the horse has escaped!