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-2021-5/1741 – Updated – measures in Austria
|Country||Austria , applies nationwide|
|Time period||Temporary, 25 January 2021 – 30 April 2022|
|Type||Bipartite collective agreements|
Protection of workers, adaptation of workplace
– Occupational health and safety
|Author||Bernadette Allinger (Forba) and Eurofound|
|Measure added||27 January 2021 (updated 11 November 2021)|
Due to stagnating numbers in Corona infections amid a lock-down and the first appearances of potentially more infectious virus mutants in Austria, stricter measures were agreed upon by the federal government.
On 25 January 2021, the 3rd COVID-19 Emergency Measures Ordinance came into effect, via which some important changes in several areas of public life were implemented (e.g. increasing the distance to be kept to people from other households from one to two meters or the obligation to wear more protective FFP-2 facial masks in certain circumstances like public transport or retail). Furthermore, weekly Corona tests for specific professional groups are to be provided via this ordinance. This includes - in addition to the previously mandatory tests in the health and social care sectors - employees in contact with customers (e.g. transport, retail); teachers and elementary pedagogues who have contact with children; warehouse logistics if the minimum distance cannot be kept; public services when contact to clients occurs; and professional sports (team and contact sports).
Those employees who have not been tested must instead wear an FFP-2 mask. In the health and care sector, both tests and FFP-2 masks are mandatory when contact to patients/clients occurs.
Following the implementation of the ordinance, the federal-level social partners negotiated a general general collective in order to provide the necessary framework conditions for Corona testing for the concerned professional groups.
The agreement was negotiated between the federal level social partners (the 'official' social partners Federal Economic Chamber WKO, Agricultural Chamber LKO, Austrian Trade Union Federation ÖGB and Chamber of Labour AK and in addition the Federation of Austrian Industry IV).
This is the first general collective agreement that has been concluded in Austria since 1978 (as the sectoral level is the dominating level in collective bargaining). The agreement applies to all companies and its employees which are organised and represented by the mandatory WKO and for which the WKO may conclude collective agreements (i.e. those companies represented by voluntary employer organisations which conclude collective agreements on their behalf - e.g. the Association of Austrian Banks - are not covered by this general collective agreement). However, an extension order is planned, which would expand the validity to those companies not covered by the WKO and for which no collective agreement applies (a very small percentage).
The general collective agreement came into effect on 25 January 2021 and regulates the following:
In addition to these clauses on tests, the social partners agreed upon a mask-free time for those employees who are required to wear a mask during their work (due to legal regulations). After three hours, those employees may take off the mask for at least 10 minutes. This is not a mandatory break time, but the employee can change the work (e.g. no customer contact) or timing can be arranged so that this mask-free time falls within a regular break.
No estimates available.
Employees in standard employment
||Applies to all businesses||Does not apply to citizens|
Social partners jointly
No special funding required
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:
Upon the government's ordinance on mandatory Corona tests for specific professional groups, the social partners jointly negotiated and agreed upon practical and operational measures that enable workers to be tested.
Due to the fact that a mutual agreement was concluded, it can be assumed that both sides are supportive of the measure.
Eurofound (2021), General collective agreement Corona test, measure AT-2021-5/1741 (measures in Austria), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, https://static.eurofound.europa.eu/covid19db/cases/AT-2021-5_1741.html
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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.