Kinds of employment
In Austria, anyone can take a job from age 15 on, respectively after later completion of compulsory school. Before completion of compulsory school, young people from age 15 on may be employed in certain cases such as an apprenticeship or practical training. Children and young people up to age 18 are covered by child and youth employment legislation.
Part-time working is widespread in trade. Seasonal work is common in tourism and the hotel and catering trade in cities and tourist areas as well as agriculture and forestry. In the building trade, fixed-term employment contracts are also possible. Freelance service and work contracts are replacing conventional employment contracts in all fields of employment.
The type of employment stipulated in the employment contract does not necessarily correspond to the real-life situation: e.g. a contract may state a freelance services contract, althogh the occupation is carried-out in personal dependence, meaning the employed person is bound by instruction, directions regarding working hours, place of work, etc. In this case the contract is in fact a regular employment contract and the respective rules apply.
Full and part-time work
The conventional contract of employment in a permanent employment relationship with all its rights (leave entitlement, protection against dismissal, social insurance, etc.) and obligations continues to be the most common form.
Part-time employees are subject to the same labour legislation rules as full-time employees and have (except cases of marginal employment) the same insurance protection (sickness, accident, unemployment and pension insurance).
The same applies to fixed-term employment contracts, although there are no periods of notice since the employment relationship ceases at the end of the contract.
Independent (freelance) contractors (e.g. language instructors) enjoy limited protection under labour legislation, but almost full social insurance. Since 1 January 2008, they have also been subject to unemployment insurance. They pay Chamber of Labour fees (compulsory membership of the Austrian Chamber of Labour) and are covered by the employees’ provident fund (Mitarbeitervorsorge).
In the absence of a specific agreement between client and freelance contractor, freelance workers have no claim to statutory benefits such as periods of notice, holiday pay, etc.
Minimally employed workers (Geringfügig Beschäftigte) (monthly income not exceeding € 415.72 in 2016) are covered by accident insurance. The employer must register this part-time employment with the health insurance provider. Voluntary health and pension insurance is available, to be paid for by the minimally employed worker. Under labour legislation (protection against dismissal, severance pay, etc.) minimally employed workers are treated equally as employees in employment for which the remuneration exceeds the marginal employment limit. There is only one exception regarding the shorter notice period, if the weekly working hours of a minimally employed person are less than one-fifth of the legal (or collective treaty) regular working hours (e.g. less than eight hours, if the regular working hours are 40). Such contracts are getting increasingly popular in some sectors (e.g. trade).
New self-employed workers
The category ‘new self-employed workers’ comprises all commercial activities for which a trade licence (Gewerbeschein) is not required (e.g. writers, consultants, translators, lecturers, psychotherapists). The new self-employed have to report their activity to the Social Insurance Institution for Trade and Industry. They are covered by sickness, pension and accident insurance. Since 1 January 2009, self-employed persons have been able to insure themselves against the risk of unemployment under an ‘opt-in’ model.
Apprentices (trainees) in all sectors must conclude their contracts of apprenticeship in writing for under-age apprentices, their legal representatives have to agree as well.Apprentices enjoy full insurance protection (sickness, accident, unemployment and pension insurance) and have special protection against dismissal.
Seasonal workers in the hotel and catering trade are subject to special collective treaty provisions regarding their working time; there is full social insurance protection.
Agency workers enjoy full insurance protection, but are to some extent covered by statutory provisions specific to them (e.g. short-term dismissal protection).
Voluntary workers have trainee status. They are under no obligation to perform work and have no claim to remuneration.