Anyone working in Austria is legally entitled to time off for holidays, sickness and care, as well as following the birth of a child. The employees in Austria have a privilege to enjoy one of the most generous holiday entitlements in the world. The holiday entitlements including public holidays for employees in Austria amounts 43 days per year which is really great in comparison to the most of other countries.
Employees have a minimum entitlement to paid annual leave of five weeks in each year of work. When calculating leave according to working days (incl. Saturday) one is entitled to 30 days leave in each year of work. After 25 years of service this entitlement increases to six weeks. The working year commences on the date the employee started to work in the job. Minimally employed workers and part-time workers have the same entitlement as full-time employees.
In the first six months of the first year of employment, the leave entitlement is calculated in proportion to the time worked. From the start of the seventh month, employees receive the full leave entitlement; from the second year of employment, the full leave entitlement accrues from the beginning of the working year.
Employees must come to an agreement with their employer when they may take their leave; the employer must give his/her consent.
If one falls ill for more than three calendar days whilst on leave, these days do not count as leave. However, one must report the illness to the employer immediately after three days absence, and provide a medical certificate.
Employees are entitled to an uninterrupted rest period of at least 24 hours on public holidays. Public holidays must be provided and paid in full. Public holidays are not included in the annual leave entitlement. There are 13 public holidays in Austria.
Sickness and continued remuneration
The principle of continued remuneration ensures that in the event of sickness, industrial accident and occupational illness and during rest cure and convalescence leave, employees’ remuneration will continue to be paid. How long one continues to be paid mainly depends on the seniority, and different regulations may apply for white-collar workers and manual workers.
After continued remuneration, one receives sick pay from the health insurance provider. The amount of sick pay depends on the earnings in the last month before the illness and the amount of continued remuneration paid. As an employee one is obliged to inform the employer as soon as one becomes incapacitated for work.
Employees are entitled to receive full pay during sick leave for between six and 16 weeks, depending on length of service, and half pay for a further four weeks.
After employees have exhausted their statutory sick pay, they are entitled to sickness benefit from the statutory social insurance system, if insured. Benefit is set at 50% of the employee’s previous pay, up to a ceiling. The amount may be increased to as much as 75% of previous pay, if the employee has dependent family members.
The protection period (Mutterschutz) for pregnant employees normally begins eight weeks before birth and ends eight weeks thereafter (absolute employment prohibition: during this time the employee must not be employed at all). During the protection period the employment relationship continues to exist, and the employee receives a maternity allowance (Wochengeld) of about the same amount as the average remuneration during the last 13 weeks before the absolute employment prohibition. Since 1st January 2008, also freelance contractors receive maternity allowance.
Mothers and fathers are entitled to parental leave (= release from work in return for suspension of wages/salary) of until the child reaches the age of 24 months (maximum), provided the parent in parental leave lives in the same household as the child. The minimum period of the parental leave is two months. The dismissal and termination protection ends four weeks after the end of the parental leave.
After receiving maternity pay for a total of 16 weeks, the mother is entitled to maternity leave without pay until the child is two years old. During this period, the mother receives child care pay under the Child Care Payment Act from the social insurance carrier, either in the amount of EUR 12,366,20 in total (EUR 33,88 per day for 365 days) or as income-related pay (80% of the weekly maternity allowance), depending on her choice.
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Educational and study leave
Educational or study leave may be agreed upon with the employer after six months of uninterrupted employment. The minimum period is two months, the maximum period is one year. If education or study leave is taken in parts, each part has to last at least two months. It is possible to take study leave in individual periods spread over up to four years. Wages and salary will not be paid during this period, but the employee will receive a further training allowance (Weiterbildungsgeld) from the Employment Service (AMS) equivalent to the level of unemployment benefit to which they are entitled. The employee must participate in a further training measure of at least 20 hours per week.
Caring for a relative at home
If one has to care for a family member living in the same household, one may, under certain conditions, be given time off work and continue to receive pay. Time-off for care responsibilities is granted for one week. One further week per calendar year is possible if a child who is not yet 12 years old falls ill again and requires care.
Employees may take compassionate leave in order to care for severely ill children or to be with dying relatives or may reduce or rearrange their working hours in such cases.
Author: Sofia Ivanov is a blogger at AustrianCareer.at. She holds a MA in international business and also contributes photography to AustrianCareer.at.