Employment law, like few other fields of law in Austria, is subject to constant alterations. Running a company in Austria correctly and cost-effectively requires extensive and up-to-date knowledge in terms of employment law.
It is therefore necessary to stay up to date in the most important areas. In practice, most and most serious errors happen in the following areas:
1. Misclassification of employment relationships
At the beginning of each employment it must be decided whether a real employment contract, a so- called free employment contract or a contract for works and services is to be concluded. A misclassification can lead to high claims on the part of the employees and additional payments as well as penalties imposed by the authorities.
2. Commencement and termination of employment contracts
Especially when concluding an employment contract and also when terminating the employment relationship, there are pitfalls for employers and there is a lot to consider. For example, the obligation to work overtime must be agreed and, when the employment relationship is terminated, not only the provisions of the employment contract must be observed but also those of relevant collective regulations.
3. Working hours
In Austria, it has been permissible to work 12 hours per day and 60 hours per week since 1st September 2018. But are these hours subject to surcharges? This depends on the agreement with the employee and also on the collective agreements of the employer's sector, the so-called collective bargaining agreements. Flexibility in working time is a complex area and must be adapted precisely to the needs of the employer.
Paid holidays must usually be agreed in Austria. Unilateral requirements from employers or employees are rarely permitted.
Most industries in Austria are characterized by minimum wages that must be paid. However, all-in agreements and lump sum overtime payments are valid.
6. Works agreements
Works councils have extensive rights in Austria. The most important are those according to which certain measures may not be implemented by the employer without approval of the works council. Such approval usually requires a written agreement with the works council, the so-called works agreement. This applies in particular to the use of
- operating resources like company cars or mobile devices,
- IT systems,
- control measures like GPS in company cars or mobile devices,
- personnel data systems and
- working time models.
ln these areas, it must be checked on a case by case basis whether a works agreement has to be concluded or the employer is entitled to act on his own discretion.
In order to avoid the pitfalls companies must be aware of their legal duties and options under Austrian employment law.
Author: Mag. Erwin Fuchs