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MINIMUM WAGE

Will the EU force Austria to adopt a minimum wage?

Austria, which does not have a minimum wage, is resisting efforts at a European Union level to put a minimum in place.

A waitress serves guests at a roof-top cafe in Vienna. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)
A waitress serves guests at a roof-top cafe in Vienna. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

The EU Commission is proposing each country adopt a minimum wage set at 50 per cent of the average wage, or 60 percent of the median income in each member state.

Currently, Austria, along with Sweden and Denmark, has no minimum wage. However, Austria has the most collective agreements in the EU, with 98 percent of employees covered in this way.

This means in Austria, minimum standards are not set by law, but by collective or individual bargaining with the employer.

READ MORE: What you need to know about the ‘minimum wage’ in Austria

However, Austria has resisted these efforts. 

The Labour Minister has said he does not support a minimum wage for Austria, but trade unions and the Chamber of Labour are in favour.

Austria’s Labour Minister Martin Kocher said on Wednesday the EU will not be able to force Austria to create a minimum wage along with other countries across the bloc, and he rejects the proposal.

The minimum wage directive will be discussed at an EU summit on Friday. 

Can the EU force Austria to adopt a minimum wage? 

This does appear to be somewhat of a grey area, with Austria saying it is up to them to set labour policy and the EU saying the same. 

Köcher said this week that the EU lacks the power to shape the minimum wage in Austria, saying that labour policy is the responsibility of EU member states. 

The EU however says it has the power to do so under article 153(5) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU).

This section gives the EU power to shape working conditions in member states, provided they are ‘proportionate’ and ‘subsidiary’ – i.e. they do not go too far and they do not interfere in areas member states can organise themselves. 

Legal commentators are split on the issue, meaning that if the policy does come into place, it could be headed for the courts. 

Should Austria impose a minimum wage? 

Austrian employee representatives are said to be in favour of the introduction of a minimum wage as many bordering countries have significantly lower average wages, making Austria a hotspot for labor mobility, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports.

Generally, collective agreements will be negotiated by trade union representatives and will apply to an entire industry or in an entire state, meaning that you yourself do not need to negotiate your wage. 

Workers from Central and Eastern Europe often move to Austria, putting the wage level under pressure.

Austria’s Chamber of Labour (AK) and the Federation of Trade Unions (ÖGB) have called for Austria to adopt an EU minimum wage along with greater wage transparency in order to close the gender pay gap between men and women. 

In terms of the gender pay gap, women in Austria are third from the bottom of the table in the EU, earning an average of 19 percent less than men.

Across the EU, women earn an average of 14 percent less than men. At the current rate, the World Economic Forum has calculated that it would take 135 years to close the gender pay gap.

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For members

JOBS

EXPLAINED: How to find a summer job in Austria?

Though Austria is mainly known for its winter resorts, there is no shortage of possibilities for those looking for seasonal jobs in summer.

EXPLAINED: How to find a summer job in Austria?

Summer is coming up, and those few hot months are a perfect opportunity for many people to get a seasonal job and earn some extra cash.

Austria’s economy is heavily based on tourism. But even though the winter resorts and sports are what the alpine country is most well-known for, the summer months are also hectic in the tourism and gastronomy sectors.

The demand for seasonal workers usually is high but has increased even more in the last few years. According to the Austrian employment agency AMS, there are more than 15,000 open positions in gastronomy and tourism still lacking workers.

The pandemic widened the gap, as the sector was hardly hit by lockdowns and changes in consumer behaviour. With coronavirus restrictions, the field lost some of its attraction. It is still having trouble finding new labour, AMS boss Johannes Kopf told broadcaster ORF.

A summer without coronavirus restrictions

However, for the first time since the pandemic started, Austria will see a summer with almost no coronavirus restrictions.

The country has recently dropped its 3G rule for entry for travellers, meaning that tourists (and residents) no longer have to show proof that they were vaccinated against Covid-19, recently recovered from the disease or tested negative.

The expectation is high that this will boost tourism, especially as the 3G rules and the mask mandate also fell in most indoor areas.

READ MORE: LATEST: What are Austria’s current Covid-19 rules?

Last year, even with some restrictions still in place, the sector saw a recovery compared to 2020 but was still not at pre-pandemic levels, according to Statistik Austria.

Still, the May to October season had more than 66 million overnight stays, with almost half of them (42.7 per cent) coming from Germany.

From imperial cities to lakes and mountains, Austria has no shortage of offers during summer. As travelling resumes, the sector is desperately looking for workers.

vienna, pratter

Vienna is big touristic destination also during summer months (Photo by Anton on Unsplash)

Where can I find summer jobs in Austria?

The capital is undoubtedly where most visitors come, according to Statistik Austria. However, it is also where many establishments have a year-round crew, and seasonal work might not be as easy to find.

It is far from impossible, though, and it is worth the search if you have your eyes set on Vienna.

READ ALSO: One day in Vienna: How to spend 24 hours in the Austrian capital

However, other major Austrian cities also have openings, most notably the touristic towns of and around Innsbruck and Salzburg. Of course, the mountainous region of Austria might be most famous for its ski slopes. Still, they also offer breathtaking summer views, cool and beautiful alpine lakes, and numerous hiking trails.

Plus excellent hotels for people to stay in and great Austrian restaurants – all looking for employees.

What types of jobs are available?

There are many job openings to skim through, but most will be the most traditional service work in tourism and gastronomy: waitressing, housekeeping, cooking, and reception.

If you look outside of Vienna, several professions in the tourism and gastronomy sector are included in Austria’s list of shortage occupations.

READ ALSO: How Austria is making it easier for non-EU workers to get residence permits

Those include some surprising ones like department store sales clerks, waiters and waitresses, masseuses, and others. If you don’t have a right to work in Austria (non-EU citizens without a work permit, for example), being skilled in a shortage occupation makes it easier to be hired and get a residence permit.

Most of these jobs will require a certain level of German, especially since Germans are an overwhelming part of tourists entering Austria. However, the high demand for workers might help those who do not speak the language yet, especially for positions that don’t require much customer interaction.

READ ALSO: Austria: Six German expressions to entice your Wanderlust

Another popular job for summer is instructor, or caretaker, in summer camps. As many of them are bilingual or in English, German is not usually a mandatory language – there are also positions for English teachers, especially in camps and schools with summer courses.

Where can I find these jobs?

As with most industries and professions, searching online is usually the first step in finding a summer job in Austria.

Outside of known employment platforms such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn, Austria’s Karriere.at might be a good place to look.

READ ALSO: Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in Austria

Hogastjob is also a local platform with plenty of seasonal offers in Austria, Germany and Italy (South Tyrol region).

Another approach is to contact resorts or hotels directly to find out when they are hiring for the summer season and the types of roles that will be available – they should also have a job vacancies page on official websites that you can check.

Or get in touch with friends that have previously worked in the summer season in Austria and ask for a recommendation.

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