Minimum Working Conditions
The terms and conditions of an employment relationship are regulated by law, CBAs, works council agreements and individual employment contracts. Mandatory provisions cannot be waived by individual agreement.
Employees who only work in Austria temporarily can remain subject to foreign law. Nevertheless, there are “overriding mandatory provisions” of Austrian law which apply for the duration of the employee’s work performance in Austria. Such overriding mandatory provisions include, for example, the Working Hours Act (AZG), the Vacation Act (UrlG), the Work Rest Act (ARG) and the Insolvency Remuneration Protection Act (IESG) as well as the provisions on minimum wage according to the applicable CBA.
CBAs contain mandatory regulations concerning minimum remuneration of employees depending on the works performed, experience and years of service of the employee. A remuneration beyond the respective CBA minimum wage is wage dumping and not allowed. Minimum salaries are usually increased on a yearly basis (similar to the inflation rate).
Maximum Working Week
The statutory normal working hours are 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week. CBAs often contain reductions to 38.5 hours.
The maximum working hours are up to 12 hours per day (but not every day!) and up to 60 hours per week (but not every week!). The maximum working time may not exceed an average of 48 hours per week in an average period of 17 weeks, whereby a CBA may extend the average period to 26 weeks under certain conditions.
After the end of the daily working time, an uninterrupted rest period of 11 hours must be granted. CBAs may reduce the uninterrupted rest period to 8 hours. Furthermore, an uninterrupted rest period of at least 36 hours must be ensured weekly. This rest must, in principle, cover the whole Sunday. Exceptions exist under certain conditions.
Under Austrian employment law, each employer must keep records of working hours of his employees (with some exceptions). Failing to keep records of working hours leads to high administrative penalties, court claims and social security claims.
Generally, employers have to compensate overtime with a surcharge to the usual hourly rate. Usually this amounts to 50% but can be higher e.g. if the work is done on a Sunday, a public holiday or at night (+ 100%).
An overtime lump sum or an all-in salary can be agreed between employer and employee. Such agreements are only valid and enforceable in so far as the actual hourly salary of the employee is not lower than the minimum hourly salary under the applicable CBA. Overtime lump sum or all-in-salary clauses must be drafted carefully and are not permissible in any case. Regular (at least yearly) coverage checks are important.
Employer’s Obligation to Provide a Healthy and Safe Workplace
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (ASchG) and the numerous related ordinances comprehensively regulate and specify the entire work-related safety and health protection. Employers are obliged to ensure the safety and health of employees in all aspects of their work. Therefore, employers must identify and assess the dangers to the safety and health of employees and take appropriate measures.
E.g. the Occupational Health and Safety Act (ASchG) and the Display Screen Equipment Ordinance (BS-V) contain regulations on the installation of display screen workstations and the design of display screen work. These contain regulations on screens, keyboards, worktables and work surfaces, work chairs, exposure and lighting as well as radiation. In particular, workstations must be ergonomically correct. Please note: An inspection of the home office workplace is only possible with the consent of the employee.
The information of the employees about the occupational health and safety regulations must be provided at the latest before the start of the activity. Where oral information is not sufficient or not appropriate, suitable documents must be provided. This applies in any case to operating instructions, package inserts, instructions for use and safety data sheets. If appropriate, the documents may be posted in the workplace.
A one-time information is not sufficient. This information must be repeated regularly and needs to be provided in an understandable language. In addition, the employer must make sure that the employee has understood the information.
If safety representatives are appointed or a works council has been set up and they have been informed accordingly or if information to them is sufficient for effective risk prevention, the information of the employees can be omitted.
Administrative penalties may be imposed if the employer/the responsible management does not take the necessary precautions. The labour inspectorate is competent for visits to check compliance with health and safety rules and does carry out such visits on regular and spontaneous basis.
Employees have to apply the protective measures in accordance with the employer’s instructions and have to properly use work equipment, the protective devices and protective equipment. Violation of these employee duties not only entitle the employer to take the appropriate measures under employment law (e.g. a formal warning) but may also result in an administrative penalty for the employee after prior clarification and demonstrable written demand by the employer or by the labour inspectorate.