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-2020-12/628 – Updated – measures in Austria
|Country||Austria , applies nationwide|
|Time period||Temporary, 20 March 2020 – 30 April 2020|
|Type||Bipartite collective agreements|
Protection of workers, adaptation of workplace
– Occupational health and safety
|Author||Bernadette Allinger (Forba) and Eurofound|
|Measure added||15 April 2020 (updated 10 July 2020)|
Ahead of the closure of schools and kindergartens, unions in Austria demanded changes to shop opening hours. They requested that opening hours should be limited to 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. for the duration of the school closings for retail shops, as the measures would put many of the 400,000 domestic retail employees in a bind and demanded that the opening times in the shops .
Initially, the employers organisation (WKÖ) had rejected the union's demand for a temporary and significant reduction in working hours. 'The trade is fundamentally against any legal shortening of the opening times' said WKÖ trade chairman Peter Buchmüller. The food trade in particular is an important infrastructure for maintaining the security of supply for the entire population and is 'well equipped'.
Due to the recent measures by the federal government, the shopping behavior of Austrians has changed. Social partners notice that customers shop less often, but buy more. The customer frequency decreases at a later hour.
Therefore, the commercial social partners have agreed to adjust the opening hours accordingly. In a joint protection package for employees and apprentices in the Austrian trade, we have agreed that the shops will be open from Monday, March 23, 2020, from 7:40 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. Normal opening hours (i.e. like before) could be resumed in May again, after the legal regulation had expired.
On 23 March 2020, social partners agreed on a package of measures to protect retail employees.
The social partner agreement finally foresees that retail shops will be open until 7 pm.
Further protective measures include that
Social partners appeal to the Federal government to consider this.
Initiative of the social partners for uniform standards for the protection of employees in the workplace. To protect employees, social partners recommend that retailers implement the following measures as quickly as possible:
|Does not apply to workers||
Companies providing essential services
||Does not apply to citizens|
Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:
|Trade unions||Employers' organisations|
|Role||Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative||Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative|
|Form||Not applicable||Not applicable|
Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:
The sectoral social partner groups (retail sections within the (mandatory) WKO and the ÖGB) negotiated this agreement.
The (voluntary) employer organisation (Handelsverband) welcomed the innovations and recommended another protective measure: The association proposed to temporarily raise the limit for contactless payment transactions during the crisis. A temporary increase in the NFC limit without a PIN to, for example, €50 would significantly reduce the risk of infection both for the 110,000 employees in the food trade and for consumers. The employer organisation regards only the restriction of the opening times as being ambivalent with regard to the tense labour market, but understands if it relieves the existing staff of the supermarkets.
|Economic area||Sector (NACE level 2)|
|G - Wholesale And Retail Trade; Repair Of Motor Vehicles And Motorcycles||G47 Retail trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles|
|Occupation (ISCO level 2)|
|Hospitality, retail and other services managers|
Eurofound (2020), Protection of workers in retail, including change of working hours, measure AT-2020-12/628 (measures in Austria), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, https://static.eurofound.europa.eu/covid19db/cases/AT-2020-12_628.html
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