Austria extends furlough scheme until end of June

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.

Austria extends furlough scheme until end of June
The word 'work' in German. Photo: INA FASSBENDER / AFP

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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Austria makes quarantine announcement for monkeypox

The Ministry of Health has announced new quarantine guidelines for dealing with monkeypox in Austria.

Austria makes quarantine announcement for monkeypox

The Ministry of Health has published a set of guidelines for authorities after Austria reported its first case of the disease on Monday.

A three week quarantine now applies to contacts of confirmed cases, but only if they are showing symptoms of monkeypox, reports Der Standard.

The isolation period can be completed at home or at hospital, depending on the state of health of the patient.

Furthermore, contacts of a positive case will be treated as either Type I or Type II in a move similar to the management of Covid-19 contacts.

READ MORE: Monkeypox in Austria: What causes it and is it serious?

Type I contacts are considered as high-risk and include those who have had direct contact with skin lesions of an infected person, such as sexual partners, but also close passengers on planes, buses or trains for a period of at least eight hours. 

High-risk contacts do not have to isolate straight away but must monitor their condition for 21 days through a daily phone call with the health authorities. If symptoms occur, then the person has to quarantine for three weeks and a PCR test has to be carried out.

Type II contacts are short social contacts, such as work colleagues (not in the same office), or fleeting contacts in gyms, saunas or bathrooms. These contacts must monitor their health for 21 days.

READ ALSO: More pay and longer holidays: How Austria hopes to attract 75,000 new nurses

A case of monkeypox is confirmed after a positive result from a PCR test and Austria currently only has one confirmed case of monkeypox in Vienna.

The Ministry of Health has confirmed that positive cases of monkeypox are contagious for the entire duration of an infection, which can last from two to four weeks.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

The disease displays symptoms in two phases.

The first stage involves a high temperature, muscles aches, back ache, chills, headache, swollen glands and exhaustion.

This is typically followed a few days later by a rash on the mouth, throat, face, hands and forearms before spreading to other parts of the body. The genital area can also be affected.

READ MORE: Austria to ‘pause’ Covid mask mandate from June 1st

A patient is no longer contagious when the rash has disappeared.

To be considered a suspected case, a person must have been in contact with a probable or confirmed case of monkeypox, recently returned from West or Central Africa or been in contact with a potentially infected animal.

Additionally, a person must have developed a rash of unknown cause and at least two other symptoms (e.g. fever, chills) within 21 days after contact.