According to the Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht, BAG) the employment contract of an actor in a crime series can be fixed-term according to Section 14 para 1 sentence 2 no. 4 of the German Part-Time Employment Act given the factual reason of the specific characteristics of the work as an actor (dated 30 August 2017, docket number: 7 AZR 864/15).
The plaintiff, an actor, worked for a production firm in a crime series in the role of a police officer in the homicide division for almost 18 years. During this period he had both framework agreements for periods of one year as well as individual agreements for individual episodes with the production firm. The last agreement terminated 18 November 2014. The production firm informed the actor that the contractual relationship ended that day. The actor however, took action against the production firm, claiming the contractual relationship did not end as the contract with the production firm was an employment contract and, thus, subject to the German Part-Time Employment Act and the time limitation was not justified.
While the Federal Labour Court agreed that the contract constituted an employment contract and was subject to the German Part-Time Employment Act, the court also ruled that the fixed-term employment contract was justified according to Section 14 para 1 sentence 2 no. 4 of the German Part-Time Employment Act due to the specific characteristics of the work performance.
According to the Federal Labour Court in the context of interpretation of the provision in questions all constitutional specialties resulting from the freedom of art according to Article 5 para 3 of the German Constitution must be taken into account. The time limitation for actors can be justified by the artistic freedom of the producer to choose and change the actors according to his artistic ideas. This also applies to television companies and their production firms. Therefore the production firm could justify the time limitation with the freedom of art. However, the court also stressed that the minimum protection of the temporary employee guaranteed by Article 12 of the German Constitution also has to be taken into account. Therefore, a weighing of the constitutional interests is necessary in order to bring about a settlement of the conflicting constitutional guarantees. In this specific case the court came to the conclusion that the interest of the employer, protected by the freedom of art, outweighs the interest of the employee, in particular if the employee plays a significant part in the realization of the artistic work. Thus, the fixed term of the employment contract was therefore justified.