Heading Payment researching
One of the biggest issues in industry exploiting freelancers comes to payment. It could be that you are consistently paid late (of which there is a great deal of resources for freelancers) or that you are being ‘’lowballed’’, ‘’ripped off’’ or downright lied to about the financial status or capabilities of a company in order to receive the compensation you deserve. However, it is 2019 and the Internet does have some resources here to help. If you are concerned that a company or entity you are completing work for is trying to underpay or undermine you - you can research salaries and payments for roles equivalent across the board and present them to your client or contracting party to establish the validity of your fee.
Regardless, a client or contracting party can refuse to pay this fee but the reality is you then have created a paper trail of you establishing your value or worth when it is brought into question. Again, when you have the rights of an employee, you have many options for recourse. It could be that you are being paid less based on a discrimination based prejudice, and the German law is now quite clear on this for employees and there are some protections for freelancers pending the agreement or circumstances of your engagement.
It could also be that you are being incorrectly compensated for pensions and insurances - a highly illegal act in an employee or employer basis. But these parameters are a fantastic mile marker for understanding what you can expect when completing work. Often, a client or contractor unfamiliar with working with freelancers will questions you value or high-rate - but are the taking into consideration the burdens of pension and insurance when you engage with them?
Just because you are not a formal employee, does not mean they are not financially obliged (even not legally) to provide fair, industry-standard compensation for the work you do. So, research what is applicable to you when it comes to payments, and return to a problem client or contracting party with your evidence. Even if they have not broken the law by trying to ‘’rip you off’’, their response to your calling out of their exploitation could indeed be grounds for further recourse. If it all sounds a little brutal, I would refer you again to talk or research in support groups or networks - this is a widespread problem for freelancers.
Heading Industry Bodies and Associations
Depending on the industry or field in which you work there could be professional bodies and associations that can assist you. Problematically for freelancers in Germany, these resources and bodies are often only available to access with a knowledge of the German language. That said, it is always worth exploring. Many professions require a deep contextual understanding to comprehend the exploitation or abuse that can occur in the course of completing or handing over work.
Even if industry bodies or associations exist merely to provide a more vocational support, again, in a context of limited resources and recourse, it can be a great idea to check in and verify the nature of your complaints or experiences with those who are also working in their field. From artists to those in the food industry, there are many great options in the German professional landscape who might be able to assist you to understand your situation better.
It is a brave new world indeed for freelancers, and it will be interesting to see how occupational law and workplace law adjusts and evolves to consider freelancers in a more legitimate light and provide real, direct recourse options throughout their legal systems. But, for now, we hope it is good to at least have some starting points if you ever find yourself in a sticky situation.