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-2020-12/545 – Updated – measures in Austria
|Country||Austria , applies nationwide|
|Time period||Temporary, 16 March 2020 – 07 July 2023|
|Type||Legislations or other statutory regulations|
Income protection beyond short-time work
– Support for parents and carers (financial or in kind)
|Author||Bernadette Allinger (Forba) and Eurofound|
|Measure added||13 April 2020 (updated 02 March 2023)|
Due to the partial closure of school and kindergartens (with emergency service for those children who cannot be otherwise cared for, i.e. whose parents cannot work in home office), a special care time of up to three weeks for working parents with children up to the age of 14 and children with disabilities (no age limit) was established. In a later step, this was extended to workers with care needs for older people and can now be taken day wise. The employer's consent is needed.
The legal basis was an amendment to the employment law act § 18b Abs. 1 Arbeitsvertragsrechts-Anpassungsgesetz (AVRAG).
The employer's consent to the special care time is needed. The costs for the leave are shared between the state (which pays one third) and the employer (two thirds). Eligibility ends with a monthly wage of €5,370 (upper threshold).
The special care period is available for all those employees whose work is not necessary for the maintenance of the business and who do not have other childcare opportunities (schools and kindergartens remain open only for children of those parents whose work is necessary for the maintenance of the business).
The special care time is not to be offset against regular holiday entitlements or claims for time off or 'flexitime' credits. It is regarded as a 'normal' period of employment, and therefore counts towards employees' entitlements dependent on length of service. The legal base is an adaptation of the Employment Law Amendment Act (AVRAG, §18b/1).
According to the answer to a parliamentary inquiry, 4,874 people were released from work, the majority of whom were women, namely 3,501, which corresponds to a share of 72%. Within the scope of this special leave, 5,490 children up to the age of 14 were looked after. In addition, 30 people with disabilities and 22 people in need of care were looked after.
Figures from May and June 2020
According to the Federal Accounting Agency, relating to figures from May, only 10% of the recipients availed of the maximum amount of three weeks of childcare time. Until May 25, only four applications were rejected. Up until then, €365,257.61 had been paid out in funding amounts. Up to €2.5 million were budgeted. Earlier media reports from 23 June 2020 reported that according to ministry information, almost 9,500 families had made use of the measure, but in light of the most recent update, this seems much overrated.
Figures from August 2020
According to information provided by the Federal Chancellery in late August 2020, around 30,000 children have benefited from the special care period and more than 25,000 employees have taken advantage of the special care period. Of these, 66% were women and 34% were men. 57% have taken advantage of the special care time of up to three weeks, 22% up to two weeks and 21% up to one week. 3,841 companies have so far submitted 4,385 applications for special care time. The most frequent applications were made in Vienna (968 companies), Upper Austria (848 companies) and Lower Austria (529 companies).
Figures from phase 4 (November 2020 to July 2021)
According to the federal ministry, around 6,200 employees made use of the special care time and 12,300 children were cared for during the special care period from November 2020 to July 9, 2021.
In March 2022, it was announced that since the onset of the measure (i.e. during the entire period), 38,206 people have taken advantage of the special subsidised care time, of which around 70% were women. Over 69,000 people (mostly children) have been cared for and €19.7 million were paid by the federal state to employers.
Figures from September 2022
So far, special care time has been requested for 107,430 people, the vast majority of them for children. So far, the federal government has paid €26.1 million to employers.
Employees in standard employment
Parents in employment
|Does not apply to businesses||
Social partners jointly
Company / Companies
Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:
|Trade unions||Employers' organisations|
|Form||Direct consultation outside a formal body||Direct consultation outside a formal body|
Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:
The social partners were consulted informally, but the labour side claims its demands have not been considered.
Labour side is not content with the measure; they would have preferred a legal right to the special care time and full cost compensation for the employer.
Eurofound (2020), Special subsidised care time for working parents and carers, measure AT-2020-12/545 (measures in Austria), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, https://static.eurofound.europa.eu/covid19db/cases/AT-2020-12_545.html
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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.