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HEALTH

Everything you need to know about Austria’s new working from home rules

Austria on Wednesday announced a new set of working from home rules, including tax breaks and insurance coverage - while keeping it voluntary. Here's what you need to know.

Everything you need to know about Austria's new working from home rules
Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

The government wants more people to work from home, although it will not become compulsory during the pandemic. 

Now new tax benefits of up to €600 have been announced by Austrian Finance Minister Gernot Blümel.

The new measures will cost the government €150 million euros per year, and will apply until 2023. 

So what can I claim back from the tax man? 

Electricity and heating costs can be claimed back tax-free for up to €300 per year. 

Tax on mobile phones, laptops or internet WiFi can be claimed back, also up to €300 per year but only if these have been privately purchased and are not provided by the employer.

UPDATE: What do delivery delays mean for Austria's Covid-19 vaccination programme? 

If the reimbursement of costs for digital items is less than €300, the employer can also compensate for higher electricity or heating costs tax-free up to €300.

Purchases of office furniture, for example an office chair, can be made tax free with an upper limit of €300 per year, but only for people working exclusively from home. Hybrid office and home office workers can claim a lower amount, depending on the time spent in respective workplaces. 

This regulation should already apply to the employee tax assessment in 2020, however, the €300 limit applies to the years 2020 and 2021 together.

Insurance

The government has permanently extended insurance cover for accidents in the home office. The insurance also applies on the way to work or when carrying out a visit to the doctor or picking up children from school. 

In spite of the new tax relief, employees are also entitled to a commuter allowance while working from home. However, the home office allowance and the commuter allowance cannot be taken into account for the same day.

The commuter allowance will be calculated on a sliding scale depending on how many days in a month are spent commuting to the office. 

‘Legal certainty’

Agreements to work from home will be made in writing and can be revoked by both sides with one month's notice, according to the Ministry of Labor

Voluntary company agreements should also be possible. Labor inspectors will not have access to workers' homes. The working time will be calculated exactly as in the office.

Finance Minister Gernot Blümel said the new measures were aimed at creating legal certainty in times of the pandemic – as well as an incentive to reduce contacts as much as possible and to enable work from home.

The measures will be re-evaluated in 2023, and the regulations should remain in place after the pandemic. 

Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said working from home reduced movement of the population and lowered the risk of infection.

While many Austrians worked from home during the first lockdown, during the current lockdown fewer workers have done so. 

 

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HEALTH

Reader question: How to get a flu vaccination in Austria?

Austrian doctors and virologists have warned of a particularly strong flu wave this winter and recommend that people get vaccinated. Here's how to get the shot in each province.

Reader question: How to get a flu vaccination in Austria?

Austrian experts have said there would likely be an exceptionally high wave of the flu after hardly any cases were registered in the past two years. The measures against Covid-19 prevented infections with Sars-CoV-2 – and curbed the spread of influenza and other cold viruses.

This is about to change this season as Covid measures were relaxed and airborne viruses spread again, they said.

In principle, the influenza vaccination protects against symptomatic infection for four months: “About 80 percent for H1 viruses, about 50 to 60 percent for H3 strains and 60 to 70 percent for B viruses,” said Monika Redlberger-Fritz, a virologist from Med-Uni Vienna.

READ ALSO: Colds and flu: What to do and say if you get sick in Austria

She added: “But even with vaccine breakthroughs, you are still very well protected against complications, hospitalisations and death.”

Unlike the Covid-19 vaccination, the flu jab is not organised by the federal government but by the respective provinces, which file a report only after the flu season. In every province, the vaccine is free for children, but many ask adults to pay for a fee or get it from their doctors. In Vienna, the flu vaccination is free for everyone.

Here is how to get the vaccine in each province in campaigns carried out with the participation or knowledge of the government – companies and private insurance institutions can also start their own vaccination campaigns.

Vienna

Vienna offers free flu vaccinations for every resident. You can register online with the impfservice.wien or visit one of the centres that accept people without appointments (for example, the Austria Center Vienna). 

All that is necessary is for you to bring a document with your picture and wear an FFP2 mask. If you have an e-card and a vaccination passport, bring those with you as well. There is also a form to fill out, but those are available on-site.  

Lower Austria

The flu vaccine is free for children from six months to 15-years-old, and they can get the shot from established medical specialists. For those who are older, it is possible to receive the vaccination from a registered specialist, company medical service or from their employer, but they may be charged for it.

Residents of elderly and care homes get the vaccination free of charge in the facility where they live.

You can check more about the vaccination with your family doctor and paediatrician.

Upper Austria

Children aged six months to 15 can get the vaccine for free with their general practitioners and paediatricians. However, you may need to get the vaccine components at the pharmacy with a voucher and register with your doctor.

Older people can get the vaccination directly at vaccination sites in their district for €15. Residents of elderly and care homes get the vaccination free of charge in the facility where they live.

Styria

In Styria, children from six months to age 15 get the vaccine for free with paediatricians or public health services of their district authorities.  Older adults can get it from the public health service for €16 or €27 if they are older than 65. 

Residents of elderly and care homes get the vaccination free of charge in the facility where they live.

You can check more about the vaccination with your family doctor and paediatrician.

Carinthia

Children (from six months to 15 years) can get the vaccine for free in doctor’s offices or public health centres. You can check HERE for more information and register. For older people, the price is €22, though prices could be different if you go to your doctor instead of a vaccination centre.

Residents of elderly and care homes get the vaccination free of charge in the facility where they live.

Burgenland

Children aged six months to 15 years can get the vaccine free in pharmacies and with their physicians. At-risk patients older than that can also get free vaccines, but only while supplies last. 

Otherwise, buying and paying for the vaccine in a pharmacy or with your general practitioner is possible. There are also free vaccinations in elderly and care homes. 

You can check more about the vaccination with your family doctor and paediatrician.

Salzburg

Children from six months to 15 years can get the vaccine free with any doctor offering it. You can check with your family doctor or paediatrician. Anyone over 15 that wants to get it needs to buy it at a pharmacy (prices vary depending on the vaccine used) and can ask their family doctor. 

There are free vaccinations for residents of elderly and care homes. 

You can read more about the vaccination offer in Salzburg HERE.

Tyrol

The flu vaccine is free for children from six months to the age of 15 years, and they can get it directly from their doctor (a general practitioner or a paediatrician, for example). For those older, it’s possible to vaccinate with their family doctors, but prices vary for the product and pharmacies and the doctor’s fee. 

Residents of elderly and nursing homes aged 60 and over get the vaccination free of charge.

You can read more about the vaccination offer in Tyrol HERE.

Vorarlberg

In Vorarlberg, children aged six months to 15 years can get the vaccine free with their doctors. Adults can also get it from general practitioner’s offices but will need to pay variable costs (depending on doctor fees and which vaccine they choose).

There are free vaccinations for residents of elderly and care homes. 

You can read more about the vaccination offer in Vorarlberg HERE.

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