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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-2020-43/1310 – measures in Austria

Recommendation for Corona bonus in retail collective agreement

Empfehlung für Corona-Bonus im Handelskollektivvertrag

Country Austria , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 21 October 2020 – 01 December 2020
Context COVID-19
Type Bipartite collective agreements
Category Ensuring business continuity and support for essential services
– Remuneration and rewards for workers in essential services
Author Bernadette Allinger (Forba) and Eurofound
Measure added 23 October 2020 (updated 04 May 2021)

Background information

The retail food sector and drugstores were not concerned by closures during the lock-down in spring in Austria due to the COVID-19 crisis. Retail workers were especially exposed to catching the disease as they had to keep the businesses running as so-called "system-critical" workers. Other areas in the retail/commerce sector, on the other hand (like clothes stores, furniture stores,...), were severely concerned by business closures during the lock-down phase and tremendous financial losses, with many workers on short-time work or becoming unemployed.

Content of measure

The large collective agreement for white-collar workers in the retail sector in Austria applies to 415,000 workers and 18,000 apprentices and is a uniform collective agreement for all diverse sections of the commerce sector. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, while the food (and drugstore) sector generally made (large) profits, the non-food sector encountered (large) losses. These two very distinct developments had to be taken into account in this autumn's annual collective bargaining round. Similar to the metalworkers a few weeks earlier, the conclusion was reached already in the first negotiating round, foreseeing a basic wage increase of 1.5% (compensating for inflation).

In addition, all companies "which can afford it" are called upon to pay a bonus of at least €150 to their employees. According to the union, every fourth retail worker will benefit from this measure. For apprentices, which were by regulation exempt from home-schooling during the lockdown in order to work, this bonus is mandatory. The bonus is to be paid by 1 December 2020.

Use of measure

Several supermarket chains (Rewe, Lidl, Hofer, Spar) have announced that they would pay such a bonus to their employees, also higher than the minimum amount of €150. Exact amounts and timing of the payment have yet not been announced. Some supermarkets (e.g. Rewe) have already paid their employees a voluntary bonus in spring, and support their employees now for a second time.

Contents

  • Bonuses
  • Pay increases

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Employees in standard employment
Sector specific set of companies
Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
Social partners jointly
Companies

Social partners

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:

  • Social partners jointly
  • Main level of involvement: Sectoral or branch level

Involvement

The sectoral social partners negotiated the annual collective agreement for the retail sector.

Views and reactions

Before the negotiations, the union had demanded a mandatory Corona-bonus for all sectoral employees, but did not get through with its demand; nonetheless, both sides are supportive of the measure in the face of the economic circumstances.

(In summer, the union even held a petition for a bonus of €1,000 for all employees in critical infrastructure branches, but did not succeed.)

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      G - Wholesale And Retail Trade; Repair Of Motor Vehicles And Motorcycles G45 Wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles
      G46 Wholesale trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles
      G47 Retail trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles

This case is not occupation-specific.

Sources

  • 21 October 2020: Retail salaries rise by 1.5 percent (orf.at)
  • 22 October 2020: Rewe: Second Corona bonus for employees (www.ots.at)

Citation

Eurofound (2020), Recommendation for Corona bonus in retail collective agreement, measure AT-2020-43/1310 (measures in Austria), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, https://static.eurofound.europa.eu/covid19db/cases/AT-2020-43_1310.html

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