What working hours must be observed?
EU Directive 96/71/EC (Posting of Workers Directive) requires every Member State to ensure that the national regulations covering maximum working times and minimum rest periods are also applied in the case of posted workers.
Compliance with Austrian regulations on working time and rest periods is therefore compulsory also when posting and hiring out workers to Austria from another EU Member State or from other countries not belonging to the EU.
1. In laws:
- For the majority of employees, in the Working Hours Act (Arbeitszeitgesetz, AZG) and in the Rest Periods Act (Arbeitsruhegesetz, ARG).
- For children and young people, in the Employment of Children and Young People Act (Kinder- und Jugendlichenbeschäftigungsgesetz, KJBG).
- For bakers, in the Bakery Workers’ Act (Bäckereiarbeiter/innengesetz, BäckAG), and for hospital employees, in the Hospital Working Hours Act (Krankenanstalten-Arbeitszeitgesetz, KA-AZG).
- For employees falling under maternity protection, additional restrictions are applicable pursuant to the Maternity Protection Act (Mutterschutzgesetz, MSchG).
2. In collective agreements and, under certain conditions, in works agreements as well.
- For further information see Collective agreements -> Working hours and overtime
Normal daily working time (i.e. excluding overtime) is eight hours; normal weekly working time (i.e. excluding overtime) is 40 hours.
Many collective agreements provide for shorter normal working hours.
- Collective agreements can extend normal daily working time to a maximum of ten hours.
- Collective agreements can also permit working time to be extended to a maximum of 48 hours weekly and up to nine or ten hours a day in individual weeks, provided that the weekly working time does not exceed 40 hours (or the normal working time stipulated in the collective agreement) on average during a specified reference period.
- A varying distribution of working time is permitted in order to obtain an extended period of time off (e.g. shorter working hours on Fridays). In such cases, normal daily working time can total as much as nine hours on single days.
- If a day off is taken between a holiday and a weekend, the day can be made up within a maximum of 13 consecutive weeks (including the week of the day off).
- In such cases, normal daily working time can total as much as ten hours and normal weekly working time as much as 50 hours.
- Normal daily working time can be extended to as much as ten hours to allow a four-day working week, either through a works agreement or (at businesses without a works council) by individual agreement.
- Working overtime is the case when the hours worked exceed either the normal daily or weekly working time.
- The maximum of overtime allowed per week is 20 hours.
- If all options have been exhausted, on request by the employer and based on a demonstrated urgent need the competent Labour Inspectorate can approve an additional extension of working time. The Labour Inspectorate can approve more than ten hours a day and more than 60 hours a week working time only, however, where necessary in the public interest.
- Employees are entitled to refuse, without giving grounds, to work overtime hours that would exceed the daily working time of ten hours or the weekly working time of 50 hours. Refusing to work overtime must not result in any disadvantage.
- Daily working time including overtime must not exceed 12 hours, unless expressly permitted in the AZG, such as where certain preparatory and concluding activities are required, as in the case of providing final services to customers in retail trade.
- Weekly working time including any overtime must not exceed 60 hours, unless expressly permitted in the AZG.
- Within a reference period of 17 weeks, average weekly working time must not exceed 48 hours, however.
1. Shift work
- The weekly working time restriction applies to the average shift plan cycle.
- The working time in any given week must not exceed 60 hours.
2. Flexible working time
- Within a stipulated time frame, employees choose when to begin and end normal working time each day.
- A works agreement or (in businesses without a works council) a written agreement covering flexible working time (flexitime agreement) is required.
- A maximum of nine hours normal daily working time is permitted. Normal daily working time may be extended to a maximum of twelve hours where flexitime agreements allow working time credits to be used as full days off and do not exclude time credits from being used up in connection with weekly rest periods.
- Normal weekly working time within the flexitime period must not exceed 40 hours on average unless provision is made for the transfer of working time credits.
- The normal working time in any given week must not exceed 60 hours.
3. Readiness for work
- Where employees are regularly required to remain ready for work for a substantial part of their working time, normal daily working time can be extended to as much as twelve hours and normal weekly working time to a maximum of 60 hours.
- Overtime can be added to working hours to extend the period worked to a maximum of 13 hours per day and 60 hours per week.
- Such an arrangement has to be stipulated in the collective agreement or, in special cases, covered by a works agreement or approved on request by the competent Labour Inspectorate.
4. Fortnightly work (Dekadenarbeit)
- Generally refers to working for ten days followed by four days off.
- Such working hours can be stipulated as part of a collective agreement for employees who work in construction, on large sites serving the public interest or on torrent or avalanche sites in mountainous areas.
- Within a two-week reference period, normal weekly working time must not exceed 40 hours on average (e.g. 63 hours in the first week and 17 hours in the second).
- A maximum of nine hours normal daily working time is permitted.
5. Exceptional cases
- For temporary work activities that cannot be postponed which for unforeseeable and unavoidable reasons have to be performed immediately in order to avert an imminent danger to personal health or safety or in an emergency situation, or are required in order to prevent an disproportionate amount of economic damage to property and where other reasonable measures cannot be taken to achieve the same purpose maximum working hours can be exceeded and rest periods and breaks can be reduced.
The competent Labour Inspectorate must be notified in writing of the work activities within four days of starting work.
- Where daily working time amounts to more than six hours, work must be interrupted for a break of at least 30 minutes.
- In the case of a fully continuous working time schedule the rest period must be replaced by several short breaks of appropriate duration, in the case of partially continuous working hours it may replaced by such short breaks.
Daily rest period
Employees are to be granted an uninterrupted minimum rest period of eleven hours after their daily working time.
A reduction of the rest period to a minimum of eight consecutive hours can be stipulated by collective agreement, provided that another rest period within the following ten calendar days is extended commensurately.
The rest period can only be reduced below ten hours, however, where the collective agreement specifies additional measures to ensure that employees are able to recover from work.
Weekly rest period
1. Weekend rest
- During every calendar week employees are entitled to an uninterrupted rest period of 36 hours, which must include the Sunday.
- Weekend rest has to begin by 1 pm on Saturday at the latest.
An exception is employees who perform concluding work or cleaning or maintenance tasks that are absolutely necessary; such employees can be required to work until 3 pm at the latest.
When making up time for days taken off between a public holiday and a weekend, weekend rest must begin by no later than 6 pm Saturday.
2. Rest on holidays
On public holidays employees are entitled to an uninterrupted rest period of at least 24 hours.
The holiday rest period must begin between midnight and 6 am on the holiday.
Public holidays in Austria:
1 January (New Year’s Day)
6 January (Epiphany)
1 May (State Holiday)
15 August (Assumption Day)
26 October (National Holiday)
1 November (All Saints’ Day)
8 December (Immaculate Conception Day)
25 December (Christmas Day)
26 December (St Stephen’s Day)
For work performed on a public holiday, employees are entitled to remuneration for the hours worked, in addition to regular remuneration.
Employees are entitled to unilaterally choose one day each year for taking a day off as part of their annual leave entitlement. The employee is obliged to give written notice of the chosen date no later than three months in advance.
The employee may, at their employer’s request, refrain from taking the announced holiday. In such a case, the employee maintains entitlement to that personal holiday. Furthermore, the employee is entitled to annual leave remuneration for the announced holiday, in addition to remuneration for the work performed on that day, and thus to double pay for that day; in that case, the employee has then used their entitlement to the personal holiday.
1. Exceptional cases
For temporary work activities that cannot be postponed which for unforeseeable and unavoidable reasons have to be performed immediately in order to avert an imminent danger to personal health or safety or in an emergency situation, or are required in order to prevent an disproportionate amount of economic damage to property and where other reasonable measures cannot be taken to achieve the same purpose employees are allowed to be employed at duties during weekend and holiday rest periods.
The competent Labour Inspectorate must be notified in writing of the work activities within four days of starting work.
2) Exemptions from the weekend and holiday rest rule
a) Exemptions are specified in the Regulation on the Rest Periods Act (Arbeitsruhegesetz-Verordnung) for certain activities including those for
- Hotels and restaurants
- Recreation facilities
- Traffic and transport
- Theatres, museums and similar facilities
- Roadside assistance and emergency services
and which are necessary or cannot be interrupted on technological grounds.
The above mentioned Regulation lists the activities that are admissible during weekend and holiday rest periods.
b) To avoid an economic disadvantage and to secure employment, additional exemptions can be defined in collective agreements.
c) The governor of the respective Austrian Land can permit further exemptions by ordinance or regulation if in that region an exceptional need for the supply of any services exists.
d) The Federal Minister of Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection can permit additional exemptions for a limited period (e.g. for the construction of an industrial plant).
e) To meet special temporary labour demands, exemptions from the weekend and holiday rest periods can be stipulated by works agreement for four weekends or holidays per year and employee. An exemption from the weekend rest period cannot be stipulated for four consecutive weekends.
At businesses not having a works council, a similar exemption can be stipulated by individual agreement. In such a case, workers are entitled to refuse, without giving grounds, to work on such weekends and holidays. Refusing to work overtime must not result in any disadvantage.
In all cases employees who work at weekends are entitled in lieu of weekend rest to an uninterrupted rest period of 36 hours during that calendar week, with a full weekday required to be included in the rest period.
Employees who are deployed during the weekly rest period are entitled to substitute rest during the following working week.
The amount of substitute rest must equal the hours worked during the 36 hours prior to beginning work the next working week.
Substitute rest has to be taken immediately before the beginning of the subsequent weekly rest period, unless otherwise agreed prior to commencing the work for which the employee is entitled to substitute rest.
Record of ‘planned work schedule’
- Such a record is required to be posted at a suitable place that is easily accessible for employees.
- It must show the beginning and end of normal working time, the number and length of rest periods (or general rest periods) and the weekly rest period.
- In the case of flexible working hours, the posted schedule must include the daily time frame during which flexible hours can be worked, any options for transferring time credits or debits, and the duration and period of weekly rest.
- If electronic systems are used, access for the employees to digital data records has to be ensured.
Records of actual hours worked
Records are required to be kept which show the actual hours that each posted employee works.
Like all other documents supporting pay verification, the records are required to be kept available at the actual place of work.
Non-compliance with the obligation to keep and store records of hours worked is heavily punished, with fines of up to EUR 10,000 or, in case of repetition, up to EUR 20,000 being imposed.
Records of hours worked must include:
- Beginning and end of actual working time
- Time and duration of breaks and
- Any reference periods for working hours.