When does a project employee become an employee?

The problem

Often enough, I have preached to clients and also here on the blog that one should not underestimate how quickly courts view a project employee/free employee as an employee. With all the disadvantages for the employer from labour law and, of course, from social security law. See more information in this post.

Of course, this also applies to esports teams, streamers, agencies and many young and smaller startups. An interesting verdict on this has recently been delivered by the Regional Labour Court of Cologne:

If a project service provider works in the premises of the company with the work equipment provided by the employer (PC, telephone, e-mail address, business card) in the premises of the undertaking with the usual weekly working time of a full-time employee, without: that projects that can be delimited from permanent tasks are recognizable, is an employment relationship.


This can apply to esport players and many more people

This situation can easily be transferred to an esport player, a graphic designer for a startup and the like. It should always be borne in mind that in labour and social security law you can write what you want into the contracts. Courts and social security institutions will apply the specific situation, which is why I always advise that a lawyer not only draws up the contracts, but above all also takes a look at the actual working methods, the communication, the field of responsibility, the use of materials and much more.

The Regional Labour Court of Cologne also stated as follows:


The fact that, according to the defendant, the subjective ideas of the parties were directed towards an independent activity of the applicant does not play a decisive role, even if that is the case.

For the massive risk, see this article.

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