Written by Roger James of Ogletree Deakins and Matthias Unterrieder
New legislation is on the way, which will introduce significant changes to Austrian rules on working hours. The employer-friendly legislation will increase maximum daily and weekly working hours and allow employers more flexibility in creating work schedules.
The maximum daily working time will be increased to 12 hours (from 10), and the maximum weekly working time will be 60 hours (up from 50) in any given week. This will significantly reduce the risk of penalties for employers.
However “normal working time” remains unchanged at 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week, and additional hours worked will be considered overtime. Generally, these overtime hours require an hourly rate that is at least 150 percent of the normal hourly rate. However, where flextime agreements are in place, normal working hours can be extended to 12 hours per day and 60 hours per week, and overtime rates will kick in only when these limits are exceeded.
Although an employee may work up to 60 hours in a given week, the average number hours of work per week, which is calculated over a specific period (normally 17 weeks), must remain below 48 to stay in compliance with the EU Working Time Directive.
There will also be a relaxation on the requirement for two days of rest per week. Employees will be able to work as many as four weekends or bank holidays per year (subject to the consent of a works council or, if none exists, the employee). Presently, this is possible only if an exception from the weekly rest period applies, and such exceptions are narrowly defined.
Another change will expand the class of employees who are exempt from working time legislation from “managing executives” to include other persons with autonomous decision-making powers.
The changes are expected to become effective January 1, 2019.
Employers have generally welcomed the changes, which will see Austria extend the range of derogations allowed by Article 17 of the Working Time Directive 2003/88/EC.
Compliments of Ogletree Deakins, a member of the EACCNY