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Unemployment benefits in Austria: Who is eligible and how much can you get?

For many people, unemployment benefits are a lifeline after losing a job. But how does the system work in Austria and how much financial support can you receive?

Unemployment benefits in Austria: Who is eligible and how much can you get?
How do you apply for unemployment benefits in Austria - and how much do you get? Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

General unemployment in Austria is now back to pre-pandemic levels but long-term unemployment is still above average – especially when compared with Scandinavian countries.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), twelve to 17 percent of unemployed people in Scandinavia have been without a job for more than a year. 

However, in Austria the figure is 24 percent.

One reason for the difference in long-term unemployed figures is that more people in Austria have “company-specific skills”, according to an article in Der Standard.

Whereas in Scandinavian countries, there is a stronger emphasis on transferable skills and general “know-how”.

As unemployment continues to be a topic of discussion, how do unemployment benefits work in Austria? And how much money can you get?

Here’s what you need to know.

Unemployment benefits in Austria

In Austria, unemployment benefit is called Arbeitslosengeld (literally ‘unemployment money’) and is available for people who lose their job or enter a period of unemployment.

It is for people that are registered as unemployed with the Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS) and who are ready to work at least 20 hours per week once a job has been found.

Then there is an additional benefit called Notstandshilfe, which is essentially a form of emergency financial assistance in case unemployment benefits run out.

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

However, certain conditions have to be met, such as being able and willing to work, already registered as unemployed with the AMS and being ready to be placed on the job market. 

To be eligible for Notstandshilfe, an application must be submitted no later than five years after unemployment benefits have ended.

Some people may also be eligible for a family allowance, depending on their situation.

Who is eligible for unemployment benefits?

To be eligible for unemployment benefits in Austria, you must have been in employment for 52 weeks out of the past two years.

For people applying for unemployment benefits for the second time or more, a record of being in employment for 28 weeks in the past year is enough to become eligible.

Similarly, for people aged 25 and under, 26 weeks of work in the past year is sufficient.

Self-employed people are entitled to unemployment benefits but only under certain conditions and the AMS doesn’t provide examples. Instead, people are urged to contact the AMS with any questions.

FOR MEMBERS: Working in Vienna: How to find a job in the Austrian capital

However, self-employed people can take out voluntary unemployment insurance through the organisation of social insurance for self-employed people (Sozialversicherung der Selbständigen), known as SVS.

Voluntary unemployment insurance is an additional financial contribution on top of the standard health and social insurance payments that are compulsory for self-employed people.

How much money can be claimed in unemployment benefits?

In Austria, the amount of unemployment benefits that a person can receive depends on whether they are eligible just for the basic amount or for the additional allowances as well.

In fact, the AMS even has a note on its website that states the basic amount can be difficult to calculate.

To simplify it though, in most cases the benefit is determined by the amount of monthly social insurance contributions made by an individual. 

In certain cases, a supplement might be added if the basic amount is lower than the compensation allowance target. This is currently set at €1,000.48 per month.

There is also a maximum limit, which means unemployment benefits can’t exceed 60 percent of your net income (for people not entitled to family allowances).

Who is eligible for a family allowance?

The family allowance is paid on top of the standard unemployment benefits and is typically for people with children that are considered dependents, including step-children, foster children and grandchildren.

The family allowance might also be paid if the claimant has a spouse or partner with little or no income.

How to claim unemployment benefits in Austria

The first step to claiming unemployment benefits in Austria is to register as unemployed with the AMS. Then you can submit an application to make a claim.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, applications should be submitted via an eAMS account, which is an online portal of the AMS. Registration for an eAMS account can be found here.

READ ALSO: How to find a job in winter sports in Austria

For anyone unsure about this process, the AMS can be contacted by phone or email. The AMS team will then send out an application form for unemployment benefits by post.

At this time, the AMS is advising people not to visit branches in person.

How does Austria compare with other countries?

In the UK, there is a ‘new style’ Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) to support people that unexpectedly find themselves out of work. The amount received depends on the age. 

For example, people aged up to 24 will receive up to £59.40 per week and those aged 25 and over will receive a maximum of £74.70 a week.

Then there is Universal Credit, which some people can receive at the same time as JSA, if they are eligible.

For people under the age of 25, the standard monthly allowance is £344 (for singles) and £490.60 for a couple. For single people aged over 25, the amount is £411.51 and for a couple it is £596.58. 

In Germany, unemployment benefits are based on the average weekly pay in the 12 months before becoming unemployed.

The benefit is calculated at 60 percent of the salary, or 67 percent for people with children.

Useful websites

Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS)

Social Insurance for Self-Employed People (SVS)

Useful vocabulary

Arbeitslosengeld – unemployment benefits

Notstandshilfe – emergency assistance (financial)

Sozialversicherung – social insurance

Familienzuschlag – family allowance

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WORKING IN AUSTRIA

When are the next public holidays in Austria?

Planning vacations around public holidays is an easy way to maximise time off work in Austria. To help you get started, here are the next dates for your diary.

When are the next public holidays in Austria?

We might be heading towards the final season of the year, but there are still several national public holidays to enjoy in Austria before 2022 is over.

Here’s what you need to know.

Austrian National Day

The next big public holiday in Austria is the country’s National Day on Wednesday October 26th. 

It was on this day in 1955 that Austria signed its so-called Declaration of Perpetual Neutrality, although the date has only been a public holiday since 1965.

FOR MEMBERS: Why everything in Austria is closed on Sundays – and what to do instead

The Declaration marked the end of the Allied occupation in Austria by British, American, French and Soviet Union forces, who had controlled the country since the end of World War II in 1945.

On Austrian National Day, the Federal President usually addresses the nation on TV, as well as honouring the victims of the war resistance and laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This is also the day when new recruits of the Austrian Armed Forces are sworn in. 

Additionally, military celebrations typically take place at Vienna’s Heldenplatz and many museums offer free or discounted entry on the holiday.

All Saints’ Day

This religious holiday falls on Tuesday November 1st. It is a celebration of all saints of the Catholic Church and is also recognised in many other countries across Europe.

On the eve of All Saints’ Day (also known as Halloween), it is customary for lanterns to be left at Austrian graveyards. Church bells then ring at noon on the actual holiday. This signifies a release of the souls of the dead, according to the beliefs surrounding this day.

Many Austrians visit cemeteries on this public holiday and decorate the graves of loved ones with autumn flowers, like marigolds and chrysanthemums.

READ ALSO: From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria’s winter season

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

On Thursday December 8th, the country shuts down once again for another religious holiday, known as Mariä Empfängnis (Mary’s Conception).

This roots of this public holiday is a celebration of the life of the Virgin Mary as Catholics believe Mary was immaculately conceived on this day. Mary’s mother, Anne, is known as the patron saint of pregnant women.

During the Nazi era, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was no longer allowed to be a public holiday in Austria. But it was brought back in the 1955 following a public referendum on the issue.

One extra bonus for Austrian residents on Mariä Empfängnis is that shops are allowed to open as the holiday falls during the busiest shopping period of the year. On all other public holidays in Austria, shops are closed.

People stand outside of the traditional annual Christmas Market in front of Vienna’s city hall in Vienna, Austria on November 15, 2021. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Christmas Day

This year, Christmas Day (December 25th) falls on a Sunday.

Today, Christmas is a celebration of food, culture and gift giving, but the holiday has its roots firmly in Christianity as it marks the birth of Jesus.

In Austria, Christmas is mostly celebrated on the evening of December 24th – known as Christmas Eve elsewhere – and usually involves a meal with family followed by gifts. 

But as Christmas is on a Sunday in 2022, it means the holiday is technically lost. When public holidays fall on a weekend in Austria they are not replaced with another day off, like in some other countries.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What happens in Austria when a holiday falls on a weekend?

St. Stephen’s Day

St. Stephen’s Day in Austria is on December 26th, a holiday that is known as Boxing Day in places like the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. In the US, December 26th is more commonly known as a shopping holiday.

In Christianity, St. Stephen is regarded as one of the first martyrs and it is believed he dedicated his life to helping the poor and needy. In Austria, the day is commemorated by visiting a Christmas market, going to church or attending a special festival.

As with most other public holidays in Austria, shops are closed on St. Stephen’s Day.

READ NEXT: ‘Mission 11’: Austrian government reveals tips on how to save energy and fuel

Making the most of public holidays in Austria

Austria has a generous public holiday allowance with 13 days every year.

So if employees plan to take vacations during the public holidays, they can really maximise their time off. 

For example, if a public holiday falls on a Wednesday, then it’s possible to take almost a week off work by only using vacation days for Thursday and Friday. But be sure to get any requests in quick as some people plan their vacation days for the entire year in January.

If you are a freelancer, then it’s always a good idea to be aware of public holidays in Austria – especially when working with clients in other countries that have different public holidays.

This way you can make sure you’re not the only one in your household working on a holiday. Or you can at least stock up on groceries before everything shuts down for a day. 

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