A number of federal statutes govern employment relations, including the Employees Act, Contract Law Adjustment Act, and the Labor Constitution Act. Labor regulations are also found in the General Civil Code. Many Austrian employees are covered by through collective bargaining agreements, which will often provide greater employee benefits than the minimum required by law.
Hours & Pay Regulations
The Working Time Act sets standard working hours at 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. By means of a collective agreement, maximum daily working time (including overtime) can be increased from 10 hours to 12 hours. Consequently, the maximum weekly working time can also be increased from 50 hours to 60 hours. The average working time for each 17-week (4-month) period, including overtime, is capped at 48 hours a week by the EU Working Time Directive. Working Time Act, 1969, §§ 2 – 4, Working Time Law, Amendment, 2018.
Any work beyond 40 hours per week is considered overtime. Working time may be extended beyond 40 hours at times of greater demand by 5 hours of overtime in any single week and in addition by no more than 60 hours of overtime within any single calendar year. However, no more than 10 hours of overtime are admissible within any single week. Daily working time may not exceed ten hours.
Work in excess of 40 hours in a week must be compensated at a 50 percent premium of the employee’s regular rate. For overtime on Sundays, public holidays, or between 12:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m is to be paid at 200 percent premium. Employees cannot be required to work more than 2 overtime hours in a day and 10 hours a week.
Collective agreements may determine whether, in the absence of any different agreement, overtime compensation shall take the form of cash payment or time in lieu. Collective bargaining agreements generally provide for premium pay under certain other conditions, including night work, noisy workplaces, and heavy work. The rate for premium pay varies from 50 percent to 200 percent of regular pay depending upon when the work is performed (workdays, weekends, Sundays or holidays). Working Time Act, 1969, §§ 6, 9, 10; Working Time Law, Amendment, 2018.
Night work shall mean the time between 10.00 p.m. and 05.00 a.m. Unless otherwise defined through a collective agreement, night work includes any employee regularly working at night for at least 48 nights within any calendar year at least 3 hours during night-time. Working Time Act, 1969, §§ 2 – 4, Working Time Law, Amendment, 2018.
If a work shift exceeds 6 hours, employers must allow for an unpaid rest period of at least 30 minutes.
Employers must provide employees with 11 hours of rest between work shifts.
Employers must provide employees with a weekly uninterrupted resting period of 36 hours which starts on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the latest and includes Sunday. Rest Periods Act, 1983, § 2, Working Time Law, Amendment, 2018.
Employees working during any period of weekend rest under the organization of working time applicable to them shall be entitled to a rest period of 36 consecutive hours each calendar week (weekly rest) in lieu of weekend rest. Such weekly rest shall include one whole weekday.
Austria has 13 statutory public holidays, for which employees are entitled to paid leave. Public holiday rest shall mean a rest period of 24 consecutive hours beginning at 0.00 a.m. of the public holiday at the earliest and at 6.00 a.m. of the public holiday at the latest. The holidays are:
- Jan. 1: New Year’s Day
- Jan. 6: Epiphany
- Easter Monday
- May 1: International Workers’ Day
- Whit Monday
- Corpus Christi
- Aug. 15: Assumption
- Oct. 26: Austrian National Holiday
- Nov. 1: All Saints’ Day
- Dec. 8: Immaculate Conception
- Dec. 25: Christmas
- Dec. 26: St. Stephen’s Day
Employees who work on public holidays are entitled to a 100 percent premium (double time). Rest Periods Act, 1983, § 7.
Under the Holidays Act, all employees are entitled to uninterrupted paid vacation of at least 30 working days (five weeks) annually. Employees with 25 years of service or more receive 36 working days of annual vacation (six weeks). For purposes of the act, Saturdays are considered part of a workweek. During the first six months of employment, holiday accrues in a proportional share of the annual statutory holiday (approximately two days per month). After the first six months of the first year of service, the employee is entitled to the whole entitlement. From the start of the second (and any subsequent) year, the entire annual holiday entitlement is due with the beginning of the new year of service. Unused leave can be carried over, but the leave is forfeited if not used within two years from the year in which the entitlement arose.
Part-time employees receive vacation on a pro rata basis. Years of service include employment with all employers, periods of self-employment, and some periods of higher education. The act forbids payment in lieu of leave, and agreements between employers and employees to the contrary are invalid. Holidays Act, 1976, §§ 2 – 6.
In Austria, the minimum wage is set by collective agreement rather than by law and at the industry rather than the individual enterprise level.
Depending on their length of service, employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid sick leave during an illness or following an injury and an additional four weeks at half-pay. When paid sick leave from the employer is exhausted, the Health Insurance System provides partial pay for a maximum of 52 weeks. The principal of continued remuneration ensures that an employee will continue to be paid in the event of sickness, industrial accident or occupational illness. Salaried Employees Act, 1921, § 8.
From 1 January 2020, employees will be able to take unpaid time off or work part-time to care for their sick relatives without needing the consent of their employer. During care leave, employees are entitled to a state-funded care leave allowance. The most important details about the new care leave, are as follows:
- Care leave can only be taken to care for close relatives, e.g. spouse or children.
- The new rules only apply to businesses with more than five employees.
- Employees must have been employed for at least three months before they become eligible for care leave.
An employee must notify their employer when they want to start their care leave, once they know the start date of the intended care leave. No formal notification requirements are stipulated by the law. An employer can request proof of the necessity of the care leave and evidence of the relationship to the person who the employee wants to take care of.
Initially, the employee can request up to two weeks of’ care leave/part-time care leave. This can be unilaterally extended to up to four weeks. With the consent of the employer, care leave and part-time care leave can be extended up to a maximum of six months.
Care leave or part-time care leave does not give the employee special protection against termination. However, if an employee can credibly show that they were given notice of dismissal because of their request for care leave, the dismissal may be challenged on the grounds of bad motive.
The Maternity Protection Act forbids pregnant employees from working during the eight weeks preceding the expected date of delivery and the eight weeks following childbirth, during which time the employee receives maternity pay from the social insurance system. A pregnant woman whose doctor certifies that she is experiencing medical complications that endanger her or the child’s life or health may not work even before the eight-week mark.
In the case of cesarean or multiple births, the work restrictions after delivery are extended to at least 12 weeks. If maternity leave was reduced before delivery, the work restriction after work extends according to that reduction after delivery (16 weeks at the longest). Maternity Protection Act, 1979 (as amended), §§ 2-8.
Mothers may reduce their working hours from full-time to part-time until their child’s seventh birthday or until the child starts school, whichever is later, as long as they have been continuously employed by a business with more than 20 employees for at least 3 years.
Fathers may take unpaid paternity leave until a child reaches age 2, provided they live in the same household as the child, but cannot take leave at the same time the mother is on maternity leave. Fathers may reduce their working hours from full-time to part-time until their child’s seventh birthday or until the child starts school, whichever is later, provided that:
- The employee has been employed at the employer for at least three years, and
- The employer employs more than 20 employees.
Paternity Leave Act, 2016, §§ 2-4.
Austrian law allows parents to take at least 3 months unpaid parental leave between the birth of a child and his or her second birthday. Parents may take up to one month at the same time, and either parent may take the remaining leave. Parents who earn less than a certain yearly salary may receive a childcare allowance paid by the government. Maternity Protection Act, 1979 (as amended), § 15(a), (b).
Employees have the right to work reduced hours or to take paid family care leave to care for a dying relative or partner or a seriously ill child. Maternity Protection Act, 1979, § 15, Holidays Act, 1976, § 16.
After completing six months of service with an employer, an employee may apply for education leave, which may be granted at the employer’s discretion. A total of one year’s leave may be taken over the four calendar years following the employer’s agreement. The employee will not receive a salary during this time but will receive a training allowance from the employment service equivalent to the level of unemployment benefit to which the employee is entitled. Maternity Protection Act, 1979, § 15, Holidays Act, 1976, § 16.
Last updated on: February 5th, 2020