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Full-time self-employed and part-time employed

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There are self-employed people who want to increase their income by doing a part-time job as an employee. There are also employees who work commercially or as a freelancer alongside their job. The motives for part-time dependent employment or self-employment in addition to the job can be diverse and range from creating a second pillar to avoiding unemployment.


Gradation for compulsory insurance is often difficult

For a long time, the health insurance companies tended to regard self-employed work as the main occupation. In the meantime, however, a number of new recommendations for assessing the main occupation have been issued and self-employed employees can benefit from relief.

Regardless of whether the predominant activity is self-employed or employed - both groups of people often have difficulties with their health insurance. It is often not easy to distinguish whether the insurance company evaluates you as an employee or self-employed person or not. For the health insurance companies, however, this delimitation is important in order to determine whether self-employed persons are required to take out insurance or whether they are allowed to take out private health insurance. The gradation is particularly difficult because social insurance law does not provide a legal definition for the criteria for evaluating full-time self-employment. This decision is therefore up to the health insurance companies, which each have their own criteria for assessing compulsory insurance.


Self-employed and employed: What are the advantages of full-time self-employment?

The exact classification of whether a self-employed person is subject to compulsory insurance or not is often difficult for the insurance carriers. The health insurance companies consider, among other things, the "time required" and the "share of income from employment". The focus of working life and the economic relevance are decisive for the assignment to main or secondary employment: According to this, people whose self-employed activity represents the center of their working life, i.e. the earned income and the expenses of the self-employed activity clearly outweigh those of the dependent employment, are self-employed. Part-time dependent employment is therefore not as economically relevant for the person as self-employment. If the self-employed activity exceeds the salaried employee by at least 20 percent per criterion, then - according to the AOK - one can generally assume full-time self-employment. However, these 20 percent are not a rigid value, but are only used as a guide.

Self-employed with employees

As soon as at least a marginally employed person is hired and the self-employed person acts as an employer, it cannot and must not generally be assumed that a full-time self-employed activity is independent of personal work. However, the employment of one or more employees is an indication of the scope of full-time self-employment. If there are several employees, earnings are added up as a factor for the scope of self-employment.

For self-employed without employees, the scope and income are primarily used to more precisely assess whether they are full-time self-employed.

Government grants for the self-employed

Who is considered to be full-time self-employed?

In order for people to be considered full-time self-employed, they must meet one of the following criteria:

  • As a freelancer or business person, you dedicate more than 30 hours a week to self-employed work and thus earn at least 50 percent of your income.
  • You are self-employed for more than 20 but less than 30 hours per week and thus achieve more than half of the monthly reference figure for social insurance: in 2021 the value will be 1,557.50 euros (new federal states) or 1,645 euros (old federal states)
  • The time required for self-employment is a maximum of 20 hours per week and the income from self-employment is 75 percent of the monthly reference value.

If one of the above criteria applies, the person concerned is considered self-employed by the health insurance companies and is therefore not subject to compulsory insurance. For marginal part-time employees, the health insurance companies have an orientation limit of 20 hours per week, up to which they are still considered full-time self-employed. Part-time self-employment is only possible for the health insurance companies if none of the above criteria apply.

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Presumption rule: assumption of full-time self-employment

For self-employed who have part-time, dependent employment, the so-called has been in effect since 2015 Presumption rule: The following rebuttable presumption applies to freelancers and tradespeople who spend at least 20 hours a week on their part-time work and whose work income corresponds to at least 50 percent of the monthly reference figure: Full-time self-employment is excluded on the assumption that there is simply no more time for full-time self-employed activity remains.

Conversely, employees who work less than 18 hours a week and whose income is more than half the monthly reference figure is assumed to be full-time self-employment.

Self-employed persons can (successfully) contradict the presumption that they are full-time self-employed if they can prove the opposite.

If full-time self-employment cannot be clearly determined using the above-mentioned basic assumptions or the presumption rule, a so-called overall view must take place. As part of an overall view, the economic importance and the time required of gainful employment are compared in order to determine whether self-employment clearly predominates. In order to test the economic significance, income from work and pay are also compared with one another.

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Full-time self-employed, part-time employed: compulsory insurance or not?

Anyone who, in addition to their full-time self-employment, has another part-time activity is generally exempt from social insurance. Full-time self-employed are not subject to social security insurance, but are not necessarily excluded from pension insurance: some self-employed persons may be required to take out a pension.

For full-time self-employed It is not possible to switch from private health insurance to statutory health insurance due to the part-time employment.

Likewise can part-time self-employedwhose salaried activity predominates, do not switch to private health insurance. This has the advantage that you only have to pay social security contributions as an employee.

Full-time self-employed, part-time employed: social insurance

Since health insurance for the self-employed can be more expensive than the statutory health insurance for employees, particularly frugal self-employed people have taken up a midi job (at least 450.01 and a maximum of 1,300 euros per month) or a similar activity just above the marginal earnings threshold in the past. The purpose of the midi job was to benefit from inexpensive insurance coverage. With the new regulation of the criteria for the classification of full-time self-employment, the legislature wants to prevent self-employed persons from unjustifiably gaining discounted insurance coverage. Today they benefit from the exemption from social security contributions by being self-employed full-time.


Full-time self-employed and mini-job

If you do a mini job in addition to your full-time self-employment, you should note that a mini job that is carried out at the previous full-time employer can raise suspicion of bogus self-employment. This should be avoided as a self-employed person, as bogus self-employment is not legal.

With a mini job alongside self-employment, tradespeople and freelancers benefit from the fact that the mini jobber's employer pays the flat-rate income tax, including church tax and the solidarity surcharge. The self-employed state the income from the mini-job on their personal income tax return. For the self-employed, the mini-job can still be exempt from social security contributions by declaring the waiver of the compulsory pension insurance. The mini job is also exempt from health, long-term care and unemployment insurance. This enables a simple increase in independently generated income. This can be particularly beneficial at the beginning of self-employment.

The information published on our site is all written and checked by experts with the greatest care. However, we cannot guarantee the correctness, as laws and regulations are subject to constant change. Therefore, always consult a technical expert in a specific case - we will be happy to put you in touch. assumes no liability for damage caused by errors in the texts.