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EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level policy measures

Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure AT-2020-10/818 – measures in Austria

Increase of maximum weekly working hours

Außergewöhnliche Fälle wegen Auftretens des Corona-Virus

Country Austria , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 04 March 2020 – 31 May 2020
Context COVID-19
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Ensuring business continuity and support for essential services
– Change of work arrangements (working time, rota schemes)
Author Bernadette Allinger (Forba) and Eurofound
Measure added 06 May 2020 (updated 10 July 2020)

Background information

The Austrian labour law has clear definitions of daily maximum working time, duration of extended service hours, maximum number of extended service hours, and maximum weekly working hours in individual weeks (Arbeitsruhegesetz, ARG). These partly stem from EU rules on driving times and rest periods for the transport sector, but also affect working hours of health care staff in hospitals. The law defines exceptions to avert an immediate danger to the safety of life or human health or in the event of an emergency. In this context, the Federal Ministry for Labour, Family and Youth (BMAFJ) issued decrees clarifying exceptions to these rules.

Content of measure

The Federal Ministry for Labour, Family and Youth (BMAFJ) issued several decrees to clarify on occupations which qualify as 'exceptional cases' according to the law.

In a decree from 4 March 2020 it is defined that hospitals are an 'exceptional case' when they treat patients or perform tests in the context of COVID-19 and when other organisational measures (such as the purchase of additional test equipment and the inclusion of additional qualified personnel) are not possible on short notice. While rules on the daily maximum working time, duration of extended service hours, maximum number of extended service hours, and maximum weekly working hours in individual weeks will not apply in these cases, the average weekly working time can only be increased with written approval by the employee.

In a decree from 16 April 2020, and applicable as of 11 April, it was also clarified that rules on driving and rest periods stemming from (EC) No 561/2006 will be adjusted. Daily driving time has been increased to 11 hours, weekly driving time to 60 hours, and the sum of driving time in two consecutive weeks to 100 hours. These changes have been approved by the European Commission.

Use of measure

Currently no information available.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Employees in standard employment
Particular professions
Workers in essential services
Sector specific set of companies
Companies providing essential services
Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
EU (Council, EC, EP)
No special funding required

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Informed Informed
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Only employers' organisations
  • Main level of involvement: Sectoral or branch level


The social partners were informed and are consulting their members on the topic.

Views and reactions

The social partners like the Austrian Economic Chamber (WKO) have been informed and have themselves issued information .

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      H - Transportation And Storage H49 Land transport and transport via pipelines
      Q - Human Health And Social Work Activities Q86 Human health activities
    • Occupation (ISCO level 2)
      Health associate professionals
      Drivers and mobile plant operators
      Health professionals


  • 04 March 2020: Exceptional cases due to the appearance of the corona virus (SARS-CoV-2) (Außergewöhnliche Fälle wegen Auftretens des Corona-Virus (SARS-CoV-2); KA-AZG; AZG) (
  • 16 April 2020: Exceptions to VO (EG) 561/2006, new BMK decree (Ausnahmen von der VO (EG) 561/2006, neuer Erlass des BMK) (


Eurofound (2020), Increase of maximum weekly working hours, measure AT-2020-10/818 (measures in Austria), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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