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Austria

Staff welfare

Updated 01/2013

Legal requirements

The Austrian Civil Code provides main legal foundations for social rules in the workplace.

Social rules

Non-discrimination, equal treatment and gender equality

Equal treatment is guaranteed by a range of national laws. In addition, there is the Equal Treatment Act, which prohibits discrimination based on ethnic affiliation, age, religion, etc.

There is a law prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities at work and another banning discrimination in everyday life. Both laws apply to both the public and private sectors.

Article I. Health and safety at work

There are industrial safety regulations to protect employees. Among other matters, the regulations govern the following:

  • the use of hazardous machines and tools;        
  • exposure to hazardous substances;        
  • the impact of working procedures and other influences on employees;        
  • risk prevention measures;        
  • training and testing;        
  • the design of work stations, work environments and sanitary facilities;        
  • working conditions for young people and pregnant women;        
  • working hours and breaks;

Labour law

Labour law consists of employment contract law, labour relations law and occupational safety law.

Contract law

Employment contract law incorporates all legislation governing individual legal relations between employers and employees.

Labour relations law

Labour relations law (collective labour law) incorporates all legislation governing the structure, function and organisation of interest representation at industry level (trade union law) and company level (labour relations in the workplace).

Mandatory social rules complete the requirements related to managing staff.

Businesses are free to go beyond the minimum social legal requirements at their own initiative.

Administrative procedures

Non-discrimination, equal treatment and gender equality

Arbitration proceedings

The Federal Social Welfare Office is the central point of contact for all matters concerning discrimination against disabled persons.

Arbitration proceedings at the Federal Social Welfare Office must be carried out before cases are taken to court. These proceedings delay all deadlines for the assertion of legal claims due to an act of discrimination.

If at the end of the proceedings the Federal Social Welfare Office determines that no agreement can be reached, the case can be taken to court (or the supreme administrative authority in the case of civil servants).

Equal Treatment Commission (GBK)

The Equal Treatment Commission (GBK) is a body that works alongside the Federal Minister for Women and Civil Service. It is tasked with investigating suspected instances of discrimination and producing general reports about discrimination issues.

An application must be submitted to the GBK before it begins proceedings. It can be submitted by the person concerned, a works council, a special interest group or the Equal Treatment Office. The process is private and confidential as well as being free of charge.

Federal Equal Treatment Commission

The Federal Equal Treatment Commission (B-GBK) is a body that works alongside the Federal Minister for Women and Civil Service in the Federal Chancellery of the Republic of Austria. It is a special administrative branch of the Federal Government which handles discrimination within work relationships involving the Federal Government.

On receiving an application or official instructions, the senate must produce a report outlining whether or not there has been a breach in the equal treatment law. The senate also checks compliance with the law for the prevention of discrimination against women.

Health and safety at work

Workplace evaluation requires employers to determine and evaluate all dangers and health risks existing in the workplace. The results are then used to implement risk prevention measures.

Employers are also expected to remain informed about the latest technology in terms of work equipment as well as the latest findings on work station design. Any costs that may be incurred due to the Employee Protection Act must be covered by the employer.

Resources

The Austrian Government provides a range of information about ‘equal treatment laws’.

Useful information for people living and working in Austria is available from HELP, the Austrian government help service, or the Business Service Portal USP.

Programmes

There are numerous subsidies and concessions for employers in this area.

In addition to the existing subsidy programmes provided by the Federal Economic Chamber, the Federal Social Welfare Office also provides special subsidies for persons with disabilities.

Subsidies for occupational rehabilitation help to make entry into working life easier as well as to retain and secure existing jobs. The scope of the programme includes assistance for apprenticeships/education as well as carer/interpreter costs.

Help & advice

Help & advice

The Equal Treatment Office (GAW) provides advice and support to people or their relations who feel that they have been the target of discrimination and guides them through the Equal Treatment Commission proceedings. The office also provides advice to people who want to avoid discrimination (e.g. employers, members of works councils, etc.).

The ombudsman for disabled persons is tasked with providing advice and support to people who feel they have been the target of discrimination. The ombudsman for disabled persons acts independently and is not bound by any instructions.

The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber campaigns for business-friendly policies and makes sure that there is agreement and balance between the interests of various sectors. It also compiles professional expertise and makes it available to its members.

The Austrian Chamber of Labour represents the interests of employees to industry and the government. In addition to labour/social issues and consumer protection, employment, further education, qualifications and the reintegration of employees into the labour market are the core areas of the chamber’s work.

The Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS) provides advice for jobseekers as well as free recruitment support for employers and also advises them about grants for their businesses.

E-mail a business organisation near you

The EU runs a network (Enterprise Europe Network) of local business organisations in most European countries that may be able to help you.

Choose your country and town and enter your enquiry below.

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