FAQ fair practice

What is it exactly and how can you set up a fair practice? Fair practice is about fair compensation for work and the circumstances in which you do that work. Why is fair practice important? And what do you have to pay attention to if you want to establish sustainable labour practices?

Why fair practice?

After the financial crisis and the subsequent cuts to arts and culture budgets many organisations are relying on their own reserves, and on the drive and self-reliance of their employees and contractors. Concerns about the labor market have ignited discussion about fair practice, because fair practice is essential for a healthy sector and a long-lasting career. What can you do about that yourself?

Take responsibility

Whether you're self-employed, an employee or an employer: you are responsible, first and foremost, for your performance. What are your norms and values and have you clearly expressed these to your colleagues, client or project team? And perhaps even more important: act according to your principles. Do you think that ‘free’ work or overtime is not right? Don’t do it in that case and don’t ask others to do that either. Use the Fair Practice Quickscan (in Dutch) to see where you stand.

Weigh up the result

Take a critical look at how an assignment or job will benefit you. In any case, consider your (artistic) development, the development of your network and, of course, the financial aspect. For example: are you being paid little, but will the assignment provide you with a new network and can you develop artistically through this project? In that case, it might still be interesting to take on the project. The opposite might be the case also: you are offered a good sum of money, but the project will not expand your network or help you develop. Should you still do it in that instance? These considerations will change in the course of your career and may also depend on the party with whom you are working.

Know what you’re worth

What is reasonable payment for your experience and qualities? You can ask for information from professional associations about setting your price or refer to a collective labour agreement (‘cao’ in the Netherlands). You should also not forget to consult your network and colleagues. If you’re self-employed, make sure you can easily explain why you ask for a certain hourly rate. You also have to find a way to pay for health and invalidity insurance, a pension plan, and office and administration costs – an employee doesn’t have to do that. If you are an employee, you will want to make a salary proposal that ties in with your experience. If you know approximately what you need to live on, and can substantiate this, negotiating suddenly becomes a lot easier. What does not count as fair practice in any case? A self-employed person who is receiving the same hourly rate as someone who is employed.

Seek support from existing guidelines

Various organisations in the Netherlands and abroad are working on guidelines that aim to stimulate fair practice. In 2017, the guidelines for artists’ fees (richtlijn voor kunstenaarshonoraria) were published in the Netherlands. These guidelines are especially for visual artists who participate in exhibitions, which are not focused on selling the artists’ work. A similar initiative exists in England and the American organisation W.A.G.E. has developed a certification and ‘fee calculator’ for various disciplines. Check the links below for examples and guidelines.

In summary: ensure that you pay yourself and/or your employees well, that you don’t overburden yourself and/or your employees and that you create a pleasant working environment.

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