Unemployment benefits in Austria

Austria provides a comprehensive system of social security and welfare schemes. Unemployment insurance is managed by the public employment service (AMS), which is also responsible for measures of active labour market policy. In this article you will learn in when you have a right to receive unemployment benefits, how much you are receiving and how long as well as some other details about unemployment benefits in Austria.

In what situation can I claim?

You may be entitled to unemployment benefit (Arbeitslosengeld) if you lose your job or become unemployed.

You may claim unemployment assistance (Notstandshilfe) if you have exhausted your entitlement to unemployment benefit and you remain in a situation of need.

What is covered?

Unemployment benefit

The aim of unemployment benefit is to secure your livelihood while you are looking for work. To be entitled to an unemployment benefit, you must be unemployed, able and willing to work (to accept suitable employment), be at the disposal of the job office and may not have exhausted your entitlement.

Moreover, you must have completed a minimum period of insurance. This applies in case you have been covered by unemployment insurance for at least 52 weeks during the last 24 months, or 26 weeks within the last 12 months if you are below the age of 25 years.

Persons with earnings above the marginal earnings threshold (Geringfügigkeitsgrenze) of EUR 438.05 per month (in 2018) are covered by unemployment insurance.

There is no possibility of voluntary insurance for employees. However, since 1 January 2011, self-employed persons may join the unemployment insurance system on a voluntary basis.

Unemployment assistance

You may be entitled to unemployment assistance after you exhaust your entitlement to unemployment benefit if your disposable family income is not sufficient to provide for your essential needs.

What am I entitled to and how can I claim?

Unemployment benefit is calculated individually on the basis of average earnings of the second last (in case of application by 30 June) or last (in case of application from 1 July onwards) complete calendar year. Special payments (13th and 14th salary) are taken proportionally into account. The basic amount is 55% of daily net income (up to 80% in case of entitlement to family supplements). Minimum and maximum values of the daily rates result de facto from the marginal earnings threshold and the maximum assessment base.

The duration of unemployment benefit depends on the period of insurance and your age. It is paid for at least 20 weeks. The duration of unemployment benefit increases to longer than 20 weeks according to the following rules:

  • 30 weeks if the unemployed person was insured for 156 weeks (= 3 years) within the last 5 years,
  • 39 weeks if the unemployed person has been insured for 312 weeks (= 6 years) within the last 10 years and has reached the age of 40,
  • 52 weeks if the unemployed person was insured for 468 weeks (= 9 years) within the last 15 years and had reached the age of 50
  • 78 weeks after completing a vocational rehabilitation measure from the statutory social insurance that began after December 31, 2010.

If you are of a certain minimum age and have completed a certain minimum period of insurance, the entitlement period increases to:

This duration can be extended by the period during which you participate in a follow-up training or retraining measure or in a reintegration measure commissioned by the Labour Market Service or by up to four years if you participate in a work foundation (Arbeitsstiftung).

If you refuse or obstruct an offer of work or a chance to acquire a vocational training qualification, sanctions will be imposed in the form of your entitlement to unemployment benefit being suspended for at least six weeks. This means that your period of entitlement to unemployment benefit will be reduced.

When you become unemployed, you have to register with the Labour Market Service and claim unemployment benefit. While you are receiving the benefit, you are required to report to the Labour Market Service at the agreed times to discuss your search for employment with your case officer.

You must also immediately inform the Labour Market Service, without being asked, of any changes in your personal circumstances or those of your family members which may affect your entitlement to a benefit. These include taking up employment or other changes in your income situation.

Unemployment benefit is paid from the date of application. However, if you have resigned from your job without good reason, benefit is suspended for four weeks.

While you are unemployed, the Labour Market Service pays sickness and pension insurance contributions on your behalf. In addition, you are insured against certain accidents.

Unemployment assistance amounts to 92% of your most recent unemployment benefit payment. If the unemployment benefit (without family supplements) is below the compensatory supplement reference level for single persons, unemployment allowance amounts to 95% of unemployment benefit. Moreover, the age and family situation of the unemployed person as well as their financial circumstances (their income or that of the spouse, cohabiting or registered partner living in their household) are taken into account when calculating the amount of unemployment assistance. Under certain conditions, various expenses (e.g. those incurred through an illness, purchase of property etc.) will also be taken into account.

In case of short-term entitlement to unemployment benefit, there might be a certain reduction after six months. Unemployment assistance is granted for an unlimited period of time, but only for one year at a time.

You must claim unemployment assistance in person from the competent Labour Market Service (AMS). It is recommended that you apply before your entitlement to unemployment benefit expires. If you have an eAMS account, you can also submit your application online.

Whenever you have to fulfil certain conditions before being able to claim an Austrian social security benefit, the authorities will also take into account any insurance periods you have completed in other countries. This applies to EU Member States and to Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland. No insurance period you have completed in Austria will be affected if you work or are insured in one of these countries.

Can I earn something in addition to the employment benefit?

It is possible to earn unemployment benefits in addition to this. The additional earnings limit is the insignificance limit of 405.98 euros (as of 2015).

All employment must be reported to the AMS. If you are found doing an unregistered job, it is assumed that your earnings are above the marginal earnings threshold and you lose your unemployment benefit for the duration of this unreported employment and you must expect a refund of the unemployment benefit of at least 4 weeks.

For third country nationals

There are only five countries where bilateral agreements on social security include unemployment benefits: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Israel, Republic of Macedonia, North Montenegro and Serbia. Please note that in most cases the agreement only settles addition of insurance periods to determine the qualifying periods. Details at the Main Association of Social Security Institutions (Hauptverband der österreichischen Sozialversicherungsträger): www.hauptverband.at (in German).

Guaranteed Minimum Resources

Guaranteed minimum benefits (Mindestsicherung) are provided for persons who have no reasonable funds to pay for their living costs or those of their family members. Guaranteed minimum benefits are intended to support individuals who can no longer pay for their living costs on their own. An amount stipulated every year corresponds to costs for covering the required costs of food, clothing, body care, heating and electricity, furnishings and other personal needs such as appropriate social and cultural involvement as well as housing needs. Guaranteed minimum resources benefits are only available when no other sufficient financial means (such as income, social security benefits, etc.) or assets are available.

EU and EEA (European Economic Area) nationals, respectively, are only unrestrictedly entitled to guaranteed minimum resources if they are in Austria as employees or have lived here for more than five years. Nationals of third countries are only eligible to receive guaranteed minimum resources if they have been legally residing in Austria for more than five years. The amount of the guaranteed minimum resources will be determined individually by each federal province.

Important terms and explanations:

You are willing to work if you are prepared to take up suitable employment.

Work foundation is a special employment training scheme, organised together with one or more companies concerned, which provides skills training at an early stage of unemployment or in situations where a large group of people are likely to become unemployed because of staff reductions.

Your eAMS account is your personal access point to the Austrian Labour Market Service (AMS). An eAMS account allows you to access your personal AMS data and to use AMS’s online services.

Maximum assessment base is a calculated maximum value which can be used as the basis for calculation of unemployment benefit.

Habitual residence – The term ‘habitual residence’ is defined under EU law (please see the EU Regulation on the coordination of social security systems). In practice, it means the place where you have your centre of interests.

Austrian Labour Market Service

Treustrasse 35-43

1200 Vienna


T: +43 133178

E: [email protected]


Offices – Services for jobseekers

Sources: European Commission and national authorities dealing with unemployment insurance, https://www.a-kasser.dk/unemployment-insurance-in-europe/austria/

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