working reading time: 14 min publication date: 07.08.2021


© Imerys
Someone writing on a laptop's keyboard

When you get a job in a new country, you may not be familiar with all the employment laws and regulations that apply, or the benefits you’re entitled to - some may be the same or similar as in your home country, and others may seem very different or even quite confusing. To help you understand how all of this works in Austria, we’ve put together a three-part blog post series that will give you a good overview of how work, pay, and benefits are handled here - there really are some fantastic benefits and amazing safeguards in place. 

To get us started, this first post lays out some general information about labor laws and helpful organizations related to employment and workplace services that are sure to be useful!



The Arbeiterkammer, or Chamber of Labour, exists to advocate for and serve the interests of people employed in Austria. Among other things, the Chamber of Labour provides advice, support, training, and education, and advocates for improved working conditions, often working in collaboration with trade unions (Gewerkschaften). For example, we can thank organizations like these for benefits like five weeks of paid vacation time per year (!) and extensive parental leave. Every person who is employed (including apprentices but excluding self-employed people), unemployed, and on parental leave in Austria is an automatic member of the Chamber of Labour, so do not hesitate to take advantage of their many services! (Membership fees are paid automatically as part of your social insurance deductions.)

Speaking of trade unions, these organizations also work on behalf of people employed in Austria, whether or not you choose to become a member of a union. These organizations advocate for high-quality working conditions, equality in the workplace, and also negotiate industry-wide collective labor agreements (more on this in our second post in this series).

Employees may also have representation within their own company or organization in the form of an elected works council (Betriebsrat). If there are five or more employees, they have the right to create this council from among the staff, which represents and advocates for employees in discussions with the business owner(s), and can be consulted about work-related issues such as contracts, terminations, recruitment, labor laws, and more.

© Stefanie Kaiser
The entry to Arbeiterkammer Villach


Due to the hard work of organizations like those listed above, there are many regulations in place in Austria that make sure employees are well taken care of (and not taken advantage of!). 



One example of this is the regulations around work hours, or Arbeitszeit, which mandate the maximum number of hours an employer may require an employee to work per day and per week, when overtime pay kicks in, mandatory break times during work, and so on. These laws ensure that employees are not unfairly overworked and also guarantee the more specific rights of certain groups, such as young people and pregnant women. These regulations do vary somewhat by industry, so check your contract! 



Equality is also very important in Austria - labor unions and other employee organizations have worked hard to ensure that there are equality laws (Gleichbehandlungsgesetze) in place to prevent workplace discrimation on the basis of sex, religion or beliefs, age, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Sexual harassment and discrimination on the basis of family and/or marital status are also against the law. If you think you have been discriminated against or treated unjustly, the Equal Treatment Commission (Gleichbehandlungskommission) is there to help - don’t hesitate to get in touch!


In Austria there are clear guidelines around the termination of employment (Kündigung) and severance pay (Abfertigung). For example, as long as you’ve completed the probationary period in a new job (Probezeit), your employer must normally give you a notice period (Kündigungsfrist) before you lose your job, during which time you’ll receive your full pay and benefits. You are also entitled to paid time off during this period in which to search for a new job (Postensuchtage), equivalent to 1/5 of your normal weekly work hours. Many of the details around this (for example, how long the notice period is) will be determined by your specific employment contract, so be sure to check your contract and know your rights in case of being laid off or fired.

© SAL | Helge Bauer
SAL employees are discussing one of their projects

We hope this has helped you get a solid overview of the types of organizations and laws that exist in Austria to support employees. In the coming months we’ll delve further into this topic and give you more information about employment contracts and how pay works, as well as detailing all the amazing employment benefits you’re entitled to when employed here. There’s a lot that’s different in Austria than in many other countries, including many different types of (paid and unpaid) leave for all kinds of situations, so make sure to keep an eye out for the other posts on this topic!

And if there’s something specific you’ve been wondering about or would like to have explained about employment in Austria, be sure to leave a comment on our Villach in English Facebook page (or send an email to with your question and we’ll do our best to work it into a future post!