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 labor market policy. In this article, you will learn 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.

When I can get unemployment benefits in Austria and what are the requirements?

In the event of losing a job or becoming jobless, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits (Arbeitslosengeld). The main requirement is that you have completed a minimum period of insurance which means that you were employed in Austria 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. If you are entitled to unemployment benefits, you must be unemployed, able and willing to work (to accept suitable employment), be at the disposal of the public employment service (AMS), and not have exhausted your entitlement.

The purpose of unemployment benefits is to secure your livelihood while you are seeking employment. After you exhaust your entitlement to unemployment benefits, you may be eligible for unemployment assistance if your disposable family income is not sufficient to meet your essential needs.

How much is the unemployment benefit in Austria, how can I get it and what is the duration?

Unemployment benefit in Austria equals 55% of your daily net income (it could theoretically go up to 80% in case of your entitlement to family allowances). Daily net income is calculated based on your average past earnings.

The duration of getting unemployment benefits in Austria is at least 20 weeks. The exact duration depends on the period of your previous employment (paid unemployment insurance) and your age. The duration of unemployment benefit increases to longer than 20 weeks according to the following rules:

Unemployment benefit durationThe period of being previously insured (employed) and person’s age
30 weeks3 years within the last 5 years
39 weeks6 years within the last 10 years and has reached the age of 40
52 weeks9 years within the last 15 years and had reached the age of 50

Once you become unemployed, you have to register with the Labour Market Service (AMS) and claim unemployment benefits. While you are receiving the benefit, you are required to report to the Labour Market Service (AMS) at the agreed times to discuss your search for employment with your personal 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.

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