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ensemble speakersupdated in October 2022 Many of us permanently employed dancers experience tension at some point during our employment between the way we wish our company would work and the way it actually operates. Whether it's wishing for a cleaner studio, a larger dance shoe supply, a day off after tours, or compliance with legal working hours -- ensemble speakers are the people who have the responsibility to pass on these requests to the responsible authorities, which could range from the company manager to theatre director. Who are the speakers and how do they get elected? The ensemble speakers are members of the company who volunteered and were elected by the ensemble to advocate for the needs of the dancers and answer their questions. Dancers who would like to run for the Ensemble speaker positions must have been a member of the ensemble for at least 1 season and filed a nomination not less than one week before the election day. The members of the previous ensemble speaker board (Tanzgruppenvorstand) should choose an election committee. This committee is responsible for holding the election at the beginning of the season, recording the process, and informing the company of the election results. The board should consist of 3 members: the chairperson, a deputy chairperson and one other member. The election of the chairperson should take place with a maximum of two secret voting rounds. In the first ballot, the candidate with the highest number of votes will be elected as the chairman. A second ballot is held only in the case of two candidates receiving the same amount of votes and then a re-vote should take place to determine who will be elected deputy chairman. The deputy chairperson and other board members are then decided based on who received the 2nd and 3rd highest number of votes. Once elected, the speakers usually stay in their position for 2 full seasons. However they can leave early if they decide to resign from the role prematurely, leave the company, or are removed by the ensemble. The request for removal of a board member can be submitted in writing. Then the board has two weeks to schedule an ensemble meeting where a new vote should be taken with a secret ballot.. If at least two-thirds of the ensemble supports the removal of that member then they must step down from their position. If a member leaves the board then an election is held for a replacement to take their place for the remainder of their two seasons. What do speakers do? Speakers are the middlemen between the ensemble and the higher authorities of the theatre. Rather than taking care of requests from individual dancers, the speaker's board is there to improve and increase the flow of communication between the ensemble as a whole and the company/theatre direction. The ensemble speakers gather all the topics that are brought to their attention, discuss them with the dancers and separately with higher authorities. This helps to make the administration of the ensemble and theatre aware of the dancers’ needs. Frequent company meetings are the main tool to discuss ensemble issues and keep the dancers informed of the speakers’ actions. These company meetings are for members of the ensemble only (unless someone else is intentionally invited). The company meetings occur in a private space within working hours. The employer should only be present in meetings that have been arranged by them or meetings that the board has invited them to join. A protocol should be made and signed by the leading board members for every meeting. These records should be kept in a safe and organized way so that only the board members have access to them. Who should the speakers turn to when there is a topic that needs to be issued? First, the speakers should try to address the problem to the company director/manager (please see below tips on how to do that). If the director is not responsive or supportive, they should try talking with the work council (please see ‘’work council’’ section), and if that is fruitless too, they should approach the theatre director (CEO). At any point of the process it is possible and even vital to get in touch with the trade union (please see ‘’trade unions’’ section). Recommendations from us to you If you are a speaker in a company’s board, we at dancersconnect would like to recommend you the following when approaching your director, regarding a specific issue or in a general meeting: Meet with one other beforehand to discuss what you are going to say and what “stance” you take. It is important to be all in agreement before and to never contradict or disagree with each other in front of the direction/management. The key is to always appear as a united front and show support for each other. Try to find a way to express the requests and needs of the ensemble in a constructive way that does not appear to be complaining. Avoid talking about the ensemble as individual dancers. Always refer to the group as a whole. Do not disclose voting percentages from company decisions. This is not the business of the direction/management and they should only be informed of the majority outcome of the vote. Make a protocol of the discussion, underlining the outcome and conclusions of the meeting. Share this outcome with the ensemble so they remain informed. Always keep the ensemble updated with what is happening through the regular meetings or by giving quick updates via email. Make sure that the ensemble is always agreeing with and supporting the actions of the board. The ensemble as a whole should stand together and remain united, especially when it comes to group decisions and requests. dancersconnect recommends passing on the knowledge, important documents and working routine from one board to the next one. The new speakers should be able to continue working on any projects in progress and maintain the working relationships already established by previous board members. What kind of protection exists for the members of the speakers board? Members of the board should not suffer any employment disadvantages because of any of the work they do as speakers. Any violation of the working contract done by a director due to tension with the speakers is a legal base for prosecution. One member of the board is eligible for a half free day every month, in agreement with the direction/management and the rest of the board.
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work council (betriebs-/personalrat)published in December 2021/ updated October 2022 If the members of the dance ensemble have problems that need to be addressed, and if turning to the dance/ballet director in person has not been fruitful, then the speakers of the ensemble should turn to the work council. what is the work council? The work council (Betriebs-/Personalrat) is a committee of people who represent the employees of a specific theatre in front of their employer (on a voluntary basis). The delegates of the council are most commonly employees of the theatre themselves, who get elected by the rest of the co-workers every 4 years. what is the job of the work council? The work council plays a role in many fields, and can be perceived as the co-workers committee of the theatre. The council’s role can be roughly summarized in: Making sure employees’ rights are being observed and respected. Keeping record of suggestions and complaints from employees, and urging heads of departments to look into them. Taking part in meetings with department directors and union representatives, where in-house agreements can be formulated. In-house agreements are sets of rules that apply for an individual ensemble/theatre and are not included in the working contract or the NV Bühne. These agreements help to easily overcome issues and difficulties that concern specific sectors or groups. Ensuring integration and promotion of severely disabled people in the working place. Engaging in discussions about safety and security in the workplace, reducing the frequency of working accidents. The council is granted with unique authority and rights in order to ensure fair conditions for the employees in a safe working space. why don’t we always know that the work council exists? Since we, the dancers, can have the council representing our needs and applying force on our employers, many times our employers would rather not have us knowing about this possibility. Our employers would rather have us complying with situations, without us acting on making change for the benefit of the dancers. It is altogether important to find out who the Betriebsrat in your theatre is and at least have the ensemble speakers in communication with it. This way we may more successfully promote dancers’ issues that are not being solved properly through conventional talk with the directors.
unemployment benefit (arbeitslosengeld I)updated in October 2022 If your contract with a German dance company has come to an end and you find yourself unemployed, the German unemployment system can support you financially. This financial support is called Arbeitslosengeld I, which is there to aid your search for a new job and/or if you have a break between contracts. The following information is for those who have been employed in a German theatre or private company, having contributed to the German Social Security System for at least 12 out of the past 30 months, and are still eligible to live and work in Germany. If this criteria does not apply to you, please view ‘’Unemployment benefit’’ in the freelancers section, or visit: https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/en/unemployment-benefitii For more information please visit the following sites: https://www.iamexpat.de/expat-info/social-security/unemployment-benefits-germany-arbeitslosengeld https://www.simplegermany.com/unemployment-benefits-germany/#1_Unemployment_Benefit_1_Arbeitslosengeld_1 What is the first step I need to take as soon as I'm notified of future unemployment? If you have a permanent position in a theatre (a twelve-month contract that renews itself automatically unless terminated) you should be notified of the end of your working contract no later than the last day of October. To claim unemployment benefits in the future, you first need to register yourself as a jobseeker in the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit). It is best to contact the job centre as soon as you are notified of the termination of your contract as they can assist you in looking for a new position and hopefully prevent you from becoming unemployed. If you are only given short notice before your unemployment you should contact your local employment agency within three days of being notified to register as a jobseeker. This process can be done on the Federal Employment Agency’s website, through their free hotline, or in person. Find your local employment agency here: https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/privatpersonen Free hotline: 0800 4 555500 We also recommend that you view our Q&A about transition. If you wish to find a new job in the dance field, an agency such as the ZAV can be of help (please view respective Q&A) When can I apply for Arbeitslosengeld I? If your employment ends and you have registered as a jobseeker (Arbeitsuchend), but have not found a new job, your next step is to register as unemployed. We recommend that you register as unemployed three months in advance of your projected unemployment. If you find a job within the following three months you can cancel your unemployment status. Notably, the latest you can register as unemployed is your first official day after your employment contract ends. Two ways to register for unemployment: Online - Registration for unemployment can be done using this link: https://web.arbeitsagentur.de/vermittlung/oalo-ui/arbeitslos-melden?pk_vid=e455873cc8012c9d1642366033b66224 In person - to register in person you will need your ID card or passport, visa or residence permit, and certificate of registration from a city hall. Once you are registered as unemployed, an application for unemployment benefit can be filed on the same occasion (in person, on the website, or over the phone). Your benefit will be transferred to your account at the end of each month. How much money will I receive and for how long? The amount of money you are eligible to receive, as well as the length of time you will receive the Arbeitslosengeld I depend on your contribution to the social security system and your salary prior to becoming unemployed. The amount of Arbeitslosengeld I you receive is based on your average netto salary in the 12 months before you became unemployed (known as the “assessment period”). Your benefit will be 60% of your previous average wage (or 67% if you have children), up to a maximum of 7.050 euros per month in West Germany and 6.750 euros in East Germany. Out of this amount, the employment agency will automatically deduct additional taxes and expenses such as statutory health insurance, pension insurance etc. The length of your entitlement for unemployment benefit depends on your age and the amount of time you have been employed in Germany (and therefore paid unemployment insurance). The maximum length you can receive unemployment benefit is 12 months if you are younger than 50 years and 24 months if you are older than 58 years. In case you get fired, you can start receiving unemployment benefits immediately after your employment ends. However, if you leave your job voluntarily, you will only be able to receive unemployment benefits from the fourth month after your employment ends. If the period of your entitlement has been finished and you have not found a new job, you may need to apply for Arbeitslosengeld II (view ‘’Unemployment Benefit’’ in the freelancers section). What is expected from me during my unemployment? The main thing required to maintain your unemployment benefit is to look for a new job. It is very likely that you will be called during your unemployment phase to physically attend a meeting in the employment agency where you are registered. These appointments are held in order for the agency to find out more about your current status and job search. You may need to show proof of applications and/or auditions you have taken part in. It is also expected from you to be in clear and direct communication with the employment agency regarding every temporary source of income and time spent outside of Germany during your unemployment. If communicated enough in advance, your unemployment benefit will be adjusted and can even be put on hold.
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