The ‘Artists Status’ is a generalistic container expression for 5 rules in the unemployment benefit system (UBS). Five rules out of 180 existing rules in the UBS that make a world of difference for artists. The Artists Status, a 'simple' step-by-step plan:
STEP 1 - Admissibility
- Everyone, artist or not, who wants to prove his admissibility must prove a number of working days (as an employee) depending on his age. KVR or independent activities do NOT count.
- If you are younger than 36, you must prove 312 days in a reference period of 21 months, between 36 and 50 you must proof 468 days in 33 months and older than 50 you have to proof 624 days in 42 months.
- You must prove those working days in that reference period of 21, 33 or 42 months before the date of your demand for an unemployment benefit fee. (For more info see also www.artistsunited.be/nl/content/statuut-uitkeringsaanhulp-vereiste-aanta...).
Artists can also prove this via a so called ‘salary per task’:
- You work for a salary per task if there is no link between the number of hours worked and the salary. So the contract does not state how many hours you worked. A working day is equal to 61.30 euros in the salary per task calculation (gross wage). So 312 days are equal to 19,125.60 euros.
- You can also prove a part in normal working days. For example, if you had a non-artistic job half-time during 1 year and also earned an additional 9,562.8 euro in salary per task (= 156 days), you also prove 312 days.
- A 1bis contract is always per task.
Amount of the unemployment benefit fee, 2 options:
- if you worked with salary per task, they will look at the quarter prior to the quarter of the unemployment benefit fee application.
- If you worked for at least 4 consecutive weeks with a regular contract (not salary per task), they will look at the gross salary of that contract (of at least 4 consecutive weeks of employment). The wage taken into consideration for the calculation of the unemployment benefit fee is limited. Currently this is 2,671.37 euros (2018)
- You may have worked with salary per task and then have a contract of 4 weeks consecutively. Then they will also look at this contract of 4 consecutive weeks to determine the amount of your benefit fee.
Please note: if you were working abroad, you must then work in Belgium for 13 weeks/3 months (this used to be 1 day, but this condition has been aggravated) before being able to apply for an unemployment benefit fee.
Except if you had retained your normal residence in Belgium. For example you were a ‘frontier worker’. (You come back daily or at least weekly).
No 3 months:
A. if you have worked (and were subject to) your employment in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, while maintaining your habitual residence (also known as the "center of your interests") in Belgium:
- or you are a frontier worker, meaning: you return daily, at least weekly;
- or you are temporarily staying in the other country; you return after your employment has ended; upon return you can still have your foreign periods taken into account immediately. If you choose to apply for benefits first and look for work there, you must first exhaust your entitlement to export benefits.
B. if you were employed abroad as a seconded wage earner (since this is Belgian work in the field of social security).
Vzw (ASBL)/non-profit organisation
Beware of being a board member of a non-profit organization: you are allowed to be a board member of a non-profit organization for your own limited artistic activity. However, there is a very restrictive interpretation. We therefore advise against being a board member of a non-profit organization and only a member of the General Assembly.
Artists United has pleaded for some time to abandon this restrictive interpretation and to make it possible for artists to sit on the board of directors a an artistic non-profit organization.
STEP 2 - Benefit rule (Neutralization rule)
- Prove the benefit rule (officially called Neutralization Rule, often referred to as the Artists Status).
- The unemployment benefit fee is organized in periods. The first period lasts 12 months. (This first period is subdivided into 3 subphases with a slight decrease in the amount).
- The unemployment benefit fee then descends to the second period, during which the decrease in the fee is greater. Because the legislator realized that artists work in a difficult labor market characterized by short commissions, projects and calm periods, the Benefit Rule was introduced.
- If at the end of your first 12-month period you can prove that you worked 156 days in the past 18 months (of which at least 104 were artistic - yes, you can also use 52 non-artistic days), your first period will be extended with 12 months. In other words, you do not descend into the second period and your benefit fee does not descend.
- 156 days or 9,562.8 euros via the salary per task calculation.
Have you descended to the second period? Return to the first period
you can return to the first period. The parameter is the same as for the Benefit Rule: Proving 156 days (of which at least 104 are artistic). Then you return to the first period. At the end of that first period you can try again to prove the Benefit Rule.
STEP 3 - Extension of the Benefit Rule
Extension of the Benefit Rule / Neutralization Rule: you can extend the Benefit Rule with 3 artistic performances / days. If at the end of the previously extended period (see step 2) you can prove that you have done at least 3 artistic days / performances, your period will be extended again by 12 months.
This can be extended year after year.
STEP 4 – NAJO
- Protection against NAJO, non-artistic job offer: The entire Unemployment Benefit fee system is aimed at redirecting people back to work. The only protection against a NAJO is to prove that at the moment that VDAB or Actiris offers you a non-artistic job, you have worked 156 days in the past 18 months (of which at least 104 are artistic).
- If, on average, you worked 8.6 days every month or earned 527 euro salary per task on average per month, you can never be obliged to accept a NAJO.
What if I also do non-artistic work?
- Suppose that you would only do artistic assignments, you should earn an average of 527 euros in salary per task/gross wage per month in order to never have to accept an NAJO.
- This corresponds to an average of 8.6 working days per month and x 18 is 156 days.
- You also do non-artistic jobs and can use a maximum of 52 days. That means that if you prove 52 non-artistic days, you still have to prove 104 artistic days. That is an average of 5.8 days a month or in a wage of € 356 gross wage + an average of 3 non-artistic days per month, which together gives 156 days (of which at least 104 artistic).
STEP 5 - income NOT wages & author’s rights
Beware with income not equal to wage such as income as an independent worker. That can cause your benefit fee to descend or even to have to pay back your benefit fee.
Questions? No problem, we are happy to help you further, contact us