Living and working conditions

Print this page


Working conditions

Kinds of employment


In Austria, anyone can take a job from the age of 15. Until then, all young people are required to attend school. Young people are subject to compulsory education or training until the age of 18. Children and young people are covered by child and youth protection legislation.

Part-time working is widespread in the wholesale and retail sector. Part-time employees have the same insurance protection (health, accident, unemployment, pension insurance) and are subject to the same statutory employment provisions as full-time manual and clerical workers.

Seasonal work is common in tourism and in hotels and restaurants in cities and tourist areas. In the building trade and in the agricultural sector (e.g. during the asparagus and grape harvest), fixed-term employment contracts are also possible. Seasonal workers in the hotels and restaurants sector are subject to special provisions.

Freelance service and employment contracts are increasingly replacing conventional employment contracts in all fields of employment.

Nevertheless, 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 usual form of employment contract.

Independent (freelance) contractors (e.g. language instructors) enjoy limited protection under labour legislation, but – apart from a few exceptions (e.g. sickness benefit is paid by the health insurance fund from the fourth day of illness) – full protection under social insurance. They are also covered by unemployment insurance. They are compulsory members of the Austrian Chamber of Labour and pay contributions to the employees’ provident fund (Mitarbeitervorsorge – Abfertigung neu (‘new severance scheme’)). In the absence of a specific agreement between the employer and the freelance worker, however, there is no entitlement to statutory benefits such as minimum periods of notice, holiday pay, minimum wage rates, etc. Independent (freelance) contractors must tax their income themselves.

Minimally employed workers (geringfügig Beschäftigte) (monthly income not exceeding EUR 460.66 in 2020) are covered by accident insurance. The employer must register this minimal 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 in the same way as employees in permanent employment. Such contracts are on the increase in some sectors, such as wholesale and retail trade.

The category of ‘new self-employed workers’ covers all commercial activities for which a trade licence (Gewerbeschein) is not required and through which business income is obtained on a contract basis. New self-employed workers therefore mainly use their own equipment (computer, tools, etc.) and are not covered by social security insurance elsewhere as a result of this activity (e.g. through employment). This category includes, for example, authors, translators, lecturers and psychotherapists. The new self-employed have to report their activity to the Social Insurance Institute for Self-Employed Persons. As a new self-employed worker, you must pay contributions for health, accident and pension insurance only if you exceed a certain income threshold for the self-employment. They are able to insure themselves against the risk of unemployment under an ‘opt-in’ model. Other income thresholds apply in the event that you have a number of sources of income.

Apprentices (trainees) in all sectors must conclude their contracts of employment in writing; they enjoy full insurance protection (health, accident, unemployment and pension insurance) and have special protection against dismissal.

Agency workers (under the Act on Temporary Agency Work – Arbeitskräfteüberlassungsgesetz) enjoy full insurance protection, and are subject in some circumstances to statutory provisions specific to them.

Voluntary workers have trainee status. They are under no obligation to perform work and have no claim to remuneration.

Au pairs

The employment of au pairs is governed by the Domestic Workers Act (Hausgehilfen- und Hausangestelltengesetz – HGHAG). They are paid in accordance with the minimum wage for au-pairs.

Au-pairs may be managed by au-pair agencies. If you approach an au-pair agency, enquire about the agency’s licence to trade.

Most au pair agencies offer support both to prospective au pairs (selecting a host family, travel arrangements, etc.) and to existing au pairs. Au pairs also need to be registered for statutory social insurance (gesetzliche Sozialversicherung (ASVG).

Au-pairs from EU/EEA countries or Switzerland benefit from the same rights as Austrians. (except Croatia)

If you wish to employ au-pairs from Croatia or third countries, the provisions of the Foreign Labour Act (Ausländerbeschäftigungsgesetz (AuslBG)) shall not apply, but their employment must be notified to the Austrian Employment Service (AMS).


Text last edited on: 03/2020

Are you satisfied with the information provided on this page?