Austria extends furlough scheme until end of June

Austria extends furlough scheme until end of June
The word 'work' in German. Photo: INA FASSBENDER / AFP
Short time working 'Kurzarbeit' has been extended until the end of June after the government announced restrictions due to the corona epidemic would stay in place until Easter.

Previously short time working (Kurzarbeit) was due to expire at the end of March.

The decision to extend short term working was announced on Wednesday following  the Council of Ministers. This will be the fourth phase of short term work since the corona pandemic began. 

The most recent figures show around 460,000 employees in Austria were on short-time work and around 60,000 companies took advantage of the measure to avoid even higher unemployment figures.

Labour Minister Martin Kocher said extending short time work until the end of June 2021 would give companies more certainty. Companies could “rely on the fact that there will continue to be short-time work,” he said.

Finance Minister Gernot Blümel said short-time working had absorbed most of the funds spent as part of the federal government's corona aid. So far 10.6 billion euros has been put aside for short-time working, of which 6.1 billion euros have been paid out so far.

Vienna during lockdown. Photo: AFP

What is short time work? 

Short time work is a government scheme in Austria which allows employees to receive 80 to 90 percent of their normal salary while reducing their working hours. 

As a rule, under the short time work scheme working hours can be reduced up to 30 percent. However, in industries which are officially closed due to lockdown, employees working hours may even be reduced to zero during the lockdown period.

Short time work allows employment to remain secure during temporary economic difficulties, avoids redundancies and allows businesses to maintain flexibility in retaining personnel.

Employees taking part in the short time work scheme in Austria are expected to use their spare time to increase their professional knowledge and skills.  

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