Could you lose unemployment benefits in Austria for refusing Covid-19 vaccine?

Could you lose unemployment benefits in Austria for refusing Covid-19 vaccine?
A man gets a vaccine at the vaccination center installed at the Barbara Chapel of the famous St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna on August 11, 2021, amid the novel coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)
A letter by Austrian Labor Minister Martin Kocher (ÖVP) states that unemployed people can’t turn down a job because it requires a Covid-19 vaccine.

As the Covid-19 vaccination rollout continues across Austria, there are some jobs where employers are now requiring staff to be vaccinated against the virus.

In Lower Austria, there is a mandatory vaccination policy for employees of the federal state, and in Vienna and Styria, all new hires in health and social professions have to be vaccinated.

These rules are even starting to filter down into the general labour market with reports of other professions, such as in industry or trade, also searching for vaccinated staff. 

Der Standard is now reporting that Labor Minister Martin Kocher (ÖVP) has written to the Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS) to grant permission for unemployment benefits to be blocked if people refuse a job on the grounds that a Covid-19 vaccination is required.

READ MORE: What are Austria’s new tighter Covid measures for unvaccinated?

According to the report, unemployment benefits can be blocked by the AMS for up to six weeks if a role is refused by a job seeker on these grounds or if a job is not applied for because it requires a vaccination.

However, the AMS does not ask individuals about their vaccination status. These situations should only be reported if it becomes clear work is being turned down, and there are exceptions for people that cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons.

Additionally, if a candidate applies for a job but is turned down because he or she is not vaccinated, there is no risk of unemployment benefits being blocked.

The article in Der Standard states the move by Kocher is likely to instigate a debate about the rights of personal information, while also highlighting the AMS will not force anyone to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

There are currently 347,312 people in Austria registered as unemployed.

READ ALSO: Austria mulls banning unvaccinated from cafes, restaurants and gyms if ICU situation worsens


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