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Finding Employment

Austria - Finding Employment

Austria is part of the European Union, so all EU and EEA citizens may live and work in Austria as part of the “free movement of labour” principle at the core of the Schengen Agreement, although there are a number of registration requirements as set out in the Visa section.

German is spoken across the country so all employers will expect applicants to have at least a basic working knowledge of the language. Some positions, particularly those which involve significant interaction with the public or colleagues, will normally require completely fluent German speakers.

Roughly 72% of employees in Austria work in the Services sector, with a further 23% working in Industry and 5% in Agriculture. Austria enjoys below average unemployment rates, though it often increases substantially in the winter months; in January 2017 it stood at 10.6%.

The EURES website - the European Job Mobility Portal - provides lots of relevant information for job seekers about working in a new EU country, and lists tens of thousands of job vacancies in each country at any time. You can also list your CV for potential employers to read.

Those wishing to find work in Austria may also seek employment free of charge on the AMS (“Arbeitsmarktservice” or the Austrian Public Employment Services) eJob-Room, and search the substantial resources available on the site, as well as visit the offices located across Austria.

Vacancies for highly qualified staff are likely to be filled by private HR consulting companies and agencies, although the AMS does liaise frequently with these companies as well as the large and small employers looking to recruit their own staff.

Some companies may welcome unsolicited applications from experienced and qualified staff, but make sure your letter is well written, addressed to the correct person or department, and that your CV reads well; everything should be written in German.

Many young people between the ages of 18 and 28 enjoy a period of employment in Austria as an au pair. The duties will involve childcare and light housework, for a maximum of 20 hours each week. In addition to this, attendance at a language school or similar part time course is mandatory. A clean criminal history, previous experience of childcare and at least one basic certified course of German language lessons are a prerequisite for anyone applying for an au pair position. Placement with a family must be arranged by an authorised agency, and the host family must receive written approval from the AMS to employ an au pair. No one may apply to be an au pair if they have worked in that capacity for more than twelve months during the previous five years. The Housemaid and Domestic Workers Act regulates the terms and conditions of au pairs, and sets the minimum wage levels. Whilst EU/EEA citizens may seek other work in Austria to follow their placement as an au pair, anyone who has arrived from outside the EU/EEA may not seek other work in Austria and must return to their country of origin once the placement has ended.

There are a number of industries which require seasonal workers. These include agriculture, forestry and tourism. Experienced harvesting staff are in demand during the summer, whilst qualified catering staff and competent auxiliary cleaning staff are needed to support the country’s winter skiing season and summer tourism season. Employment laws are applicable to seasonal work so temporary employees are entitled to legally defined minimum standards of pay and conditions.

As soon as you arrive to live in Austria you must register in person at the local government offices, regardless of your employment status at the time.

You may be eligible for unemployment benefits and use of the Careers Advisory Service, which require you to register with the local AMS office.

The Austrian Chamber of Labour and a number of trade unions exist to protect the employment rights of employees. The employment laws in Austria, also determined by EU legislation, provide a lot of protection to employees but help may be needed in particular circumstances. The Chamber of Labour and trade unions are part of the economic and social partnership in the country, helping the government draft legislation, negotiating collective agreements for various industry sectors, and providing individual support and advice to union members and occasionally others in need of their help. Larger companies will have Works Councils, which represent the interests of employees.

Under Austrian law there are several legally identified forms of employment contract:

• An employment contract (“Arbeitsvertrag”) between employer and employee
• Short-term contracts with independent contractors, between a business and a contractor
• Quasi-employment contract (“arbeitnehmerähnliches Beschäftigungsverhältnis”) which includes both the newly self employed and those who take on a contract who require a business license
• Apprenticeship contracts

An employment contract should be in writing, but if not then the employer must draw up a “Dienstzettel” listing the primary terms and conditions of employment as soon as it has commenced. It must also list the name and addresses of both the employee and employer, the date employment commenced, the usual place of work, any probationary period attached to the employment, and a date of termination if the employment is for a fixed term only. It should also specify the salary, normal working hours, holiday leave and any other benefits commensurate with the post, as well as the main duties and responsibilities to be assumed.

A contract, signed by all parties including the legal guardians if the apprentice is under 18 years of age, must be in place before an apprenticeship commences. By law the working hours must not exceed 8 hours in a 24 hour period, nor 40 hours in a week, excluding the mandatory unpaid break during the working day.

All employees have a statutory minimum annual holiday entitlement of 30 days a year. If they are employed on a part time basis or temporary basis then the entitlement is accrued pro rata. A number of other statutory benefits are available, such as paid maternity leave and the right to time off for family caring duties.

An employee is entitled to a vacation bonus, known as the 13th month salary, and a Christmas bonus, known as the 14th month salary, if they are set out in the employee’s contract, but this is not a mandatory entitlement. Taxes payable on this portion of income will be at a lower rate than the regular salary.

Employees who work for companies with more than 20 employees, have worked for the company for more than three years without interruption, or who have a child yet to reach their 7th birthday, may request the right to work part time or alter their hours of work.

Independent contractors who work for a company and earn roughly 400 euros and above each month must register with the regional health insurance fund and make the statutory insurance contributions. They have limited rights with the company as an employee, but several important ones including statutory accident insurances do exist.

Strict regulations exist with regard to who may practice certain professions, for which registration of the individual is required including proof of completed training.

Teachers must contact the provincial boards of education (“Landesschulräte”) responsible for primary schools (“Volksschulen”), lower level of a main general secondary schools (“Hauptschulen”), pre-vocational courses (“Polytechnische Schulen”) and special schools (“Sonderschulen”) before being able to work in those institutions. Further information can be found on www.bmukk.gv.at.

Anyone wishing to work in the Health Sector should look at the general information available on bmg.gv.at, with further information for medical doctors available on aerztekammer.at.

Information about practicing as a lawyer and the legal provincial associations can be found on rechtsanwaelte.at.

Information about practicing as an Architect, Construction Engineer or Civil Engineer, and their provincial associations, may be found on arching.at.

Austria has a modern problem with illegal immigrants being trafficked through the country by people smugglers, because of its position between countries where people enter Europe on one side and countries to the other side of Europe that immigrants are keen to reach for access to work. The issue concerns the Austrian government because trafficked migrants frequently meet unnecessary deaths during transit. However, many choose to stay in Austria and claim asylum, now equivalent to 1% of the population, so those domestic political parties to the right will regularly call for the numbers of refugee claims to be capped each year. Austria’s relations with nearby countries are sometimes strained over the migrant numbers; during the summer of 2015 Austria temporarily let refugees travel through the country without valid papers as they rushed to settle in Germany, but the unexpected numbers of arrivals led to social tension in Germany and Austria closed its borders again to all but legally documented travellers. Anyone found to be illegally living and working in Austria will be deported, unless they successfully achieve refugee status.

Read more about this country

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