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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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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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