Dispute over the pension obligation for the self-employed

The labor minister demands that the self-employed should have to provide for old age in future. And they are particularly hard hit by the crisis. But the criticism also comes for other reasons.

Federal Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil

SSelf-employed are particularly hard hit by the Corona crisis. Many who are no longer allowed to provide their services and who no longer receive orders are threatened in their existence. In view of this, the plans of Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) meet with resistance to decide on an obligation to provide for old age for the self-employed before the federal election – even if the Union and the SPD have agreed this in the coalition agreement.

“Many self-employed people are struggling to survive economically. That is why the obligation to provide for old age can only come into force in a few years, “said CDU social politician Peter Weiß of the FAZ.” The self-employed need an attractive offer to provide security in old age with real options. You must not be forced into the statutory pension insurance. “

White also demands a larger serve. “If we really tackle the issue of pensions again before the federal election, everything has to be on the table, including the reform of the Riester pension,” he said.

According to Heil’s plans, the self-employed should either pay into the statutory pension insurance from 2024 or into other pension contracts that cover the same range of benefits – i.e. protection in old age, in the event of reduced earning capacity and for surviving dependents. Self-employed and freelancers who are younger than 35 years of age at the time of entry into force and who are currently not subject to compulsory insurance are to be recorded. The CDU Economic Council warned against a “disguised obligation” to pay a statutory pension.

This is based on the assumption that the protection desired by Heil for old age, reduced earning capacity and surviving dependents is only provided by the statutory pension insurance. “The criteria for this must under no circumstances be so narrow that the self-employed are de facto forced into statutory pension insurance,” said Economic Council Secretary General Wolfgang Steiger of the FAZ. Exceptions are also necessary for start-ups.

“Hubertus Heil threatens a pension corset for the self-employed”

The trade association HDE spoke of a “law at an inopportune time”. “Under the given pandemic circumstances and the massive financial struggle for survival, especially in small and medium-sized businesses, such a law would be extremely counterproductive,” said the HDE managing director for labor and social policy, Steven Haarke. A compulsory insurance for all self-employed in the statutory pension insurance is unacceptable. “A precautionary obligation would be conceivable at best with a comprehensive freedom of choice regarding the implementation method.”

The liberals, too, are calling for “real freedom of choice”. “Hubertus Heil is threatening a pension corset for the self-employed”, said the FDP social politician Johannes Vogel of the FAZ “Self-employed people make so many business decisions every day that they can also determine the type and manner of their pension themselves. To want to force everyone into the statutory pension insurance is the completely wrong way – but that is what Salvation’s plans actually boil down to! ”According to the FDP, the obligation to provide for provision should be limited to basic security in old age.

The Bonn Institute for SME Research even considers an obligation to provide for old age to be superfluous. In a study that the FAZ has received in advance, it is said that six out of ten self-employed people achieved earnings of less than 10,000 euros a year. However, many could draw on additional income of their own or that of their partner. “Building up adequate retirement provision is therefore quite realistic, even for self-employed people with low earnings.”

Most of them, even if some remained permanently in precarious financial circumstances, could save for old age. “The introduction of a compulsory old-age provision for the self-employed does not seem necessary.” Another argument against this is that it would be associated with difficult delimitation problems and additional bureaucracy.