With the beginning of the 21st century, globalization and digitalization of society, economy and work are decisive drivers in the adaptation of economic and labor relations. The so-called fourth industrial revolution is intensifying increasingly globalized competition. This development promotes and demands new innovative forms of cooperation within and outside companies. This requires adaptable legal relations between economic and labour actors. Adaptability and responsiveness are central building blocks for surviving in global and digital competition in the future.
New forms of self-employment
The design requirements are not limited to labour law. Cooperation in companies and businesses based on the division of labour will also give rise to new forms of self-employment and further develop existing forms. Agency, service and work contracts will follow this trend (as they have already done in recent years). It was therefore an understandable step that in the 18th legislative period a legal definition of the employment contract was created for the first time, which, with the central element of the employee's personal obligation to follow instructions and consequently his integration into the operational structures of his employer, created a robust basis for the demarcation of self-employment and dependent employment.
Strengthen specialisation and division of tasks
Due to the increasing digitalization of economic and life relationships, specialization and task sharing will increase in the coming years. They will enable companies to process orders quickly and flexibly in line with demand and thus meet the wishes of customers.
The decision to provide certain services or industrial subcomponents oneself or to have them provided by third parties is a core element of successful cooperation between different players in the economy. It strengthens Germany as an industrial location. Today, and even more so in the future, high-quality services and economic performance, which often have to be provided in response to short-term requirements, are inconceivable without the possibility of calling in external consultants and experts and embedding them in one's own structures.
The commissioning of third parties not only creates a reliable basis of income for them, it also secures industrial jobs and jobs created and existing in the service sector for the client. Specialisation and the division of tasks therefore do not mean a "zero-sum game"; they promote work and employment for the contractor and secure work and employment for the client. Old and new forms of independent service provision will therefore remain indispensable for Germany's success as a leading industrial nation in the world.
Statutory catalogue of criteria has already failed several times
Thus, the cooperation of employees from different employers is not an indication of dependent employment. It goes without saying that - especially in the case of larger projects - work must be coordinated and also combined with one another. This is already true in the classical world of work, in which, of course, the window builder can only and only then put in doors and windows when the bricklayer has completed the corresponding section. The person who is to install the windows and doors must therefore coordinate closely with the person who will previously create the masonry.
This is also predominantly true in the digital working world. Anyone who wants to feed in new software must wait for a time when the assembly lines come to a standstill for a manageable period of time. He is dependent on communicating with the plant management, updating the software at the request of the plant management and ensuring that the programs are adapted to individual work processes.
Therefore, the legislator is wisely advised not to prescribe the design of the corresponding contractual relationships down to the last detail, but to leave this to the contracting parties. Legislative actionism would not only be superfluous, it would even hinder the division of tasks and specialisation and thus call into question new forms of independence without there being any need for them.
Social security possible and designable
It is already possible today to be covered by the individual branches of social insurance. In order to check whether social insurance is compulsory, a status determination procedure can be carried out.
In the area of health and long-term care insurance, there is already an obligation to take out insurance. Depending on the requirements, self-employed persons are compulsorily insured by law or can take out voluntary statutory insurance.
In the area of pension insurance, the Pension Commission is currently working on solutions that can ensure long-term coverage for the self-employed as well. These developments in social security law can further strengthen the social security of contractors. Once the Pension Commission has made appropriate proposals, it will be necessary to examine how the social security of the self-employed can be further improved.