For members


Everything you need to know about health insurance for freelancers in Austria

Social insurance, the term used to describe health insurance and other aspects such as pensions, is compulsory in Austria - even for self-employed people. Here’s everything you need to know.

Everything you need to know about health insurance for freelancers in Austria
Freelancing in Austria? Here's what you need to know about health insurance. Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Everyone in Austria has to have health and social insurance, but for self-employed people it can be overwhelming to navigate the system.

This is because social insurance is usually taken care of by an employer and the amount is simply deducted from a salary every month. 

However, setting up social insurance as a freelancer or self-employed person can be simplified – once you know the basics.

How does social insurance work in Austria? 

For employed people in Austria, social insurance payments are made to the Österreichische Gesundheitskasse (ÖGK) every month via their employer. 

The ÖGK is the largest social health insurance company in Austria, with 82 percent of people in the country insured through the organisation.

Freelancers and self-employed people have to organise insurance themselves though, which can be done through the organisation of social insurance for self-employed people (Sozialversicherung der Selbständigen) or SVS

FOR MEMBERS: How to survive as a freelancer in Austria

For freelancers from overseas, navigating insurance in another language can be a daunting part of the process. 

James Tibbles, a former freelance web designer from the UK who lives in Tyrol, advises any self-employed people in Austria to seek help from an advisor when starting out.

James told The Local: “My tax advisor explained it all to me and picked out the correct one for my circumstances, so whenever I received a letter from them I just immediately passed it on to her.”

Another tip is to find an advisor that speaks a high level of English, which can be relatively easy in more metropolitan areas or regions with a strong tourism industry. 

Registering as self-employed also involves signing up with the Austrian Chamber of Commerce (WKO) who can then help you with setting up insurance with the SVS.

The key thing to remember is that health and social insurance is compulsory in Austria. So make sure it is a top priority. 

What do SVS payments cover?

SVS payments cover several aspects of health and social care. 

According to the Austrian government, social insurance payments cover: “prevention, sickness, incapacity for work/invalidity, maternity, unemployment, old age, death of a person liable to provide maintenance, survivors’ pensions, nursing care and social need.”

It basically grants people the same social insurance coverage as those on payroll.

For example, €100 of SVS payment can be broken down as €65 towards pension, €26 for health insurance, €5 towards self-employment provisions, €2 for accident insurance and €2 in administration costs.

As you can see, the largest percentage of SVS goes towards a pension, which means even though payments are considered to be high by many self-employed people, a large portion of the money is being invested.

READ MORE: How does the Austrian pension system work?

In fact, Austria’s pension system is one of the best in Europe, offering 80.9 percent of the average salary, which is only beaten by Luxembourg and Italy.

To compare, the state pension in the UK is just 28.4 percent of the average salary with experts warning that the payments don’t even cover a minimum standard of living.

As an added bonus, social insurance contributions in Austria can even be deducted from your tax bill at the end of the year (but only what you have paid so far).

Typical SVS payments

If you are self-employed in Austria, it is compulsory to pay for health and social insurance once your income exceeds €5,710.32 annually. But if you don’t reach that limit then you are exempt from paying social insurance.

The minimum contribution for those earning up to around €8,000 a year is around €160 a month. Once your salary exceeds that amount, you will be charged more. 

For the first three years, payments are calculated on a minimum contribution basis. But from the fourth year of self-employment, social insurance contributions are calculated in relation to the income in the preceding third year of business.

READ ALSO: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Austria?

However, it’s important to be aware that when first registering as self-employed in Austria there is often a delay to the start of social insurance payments.

This can mean receiving a bill several months later and having to pay six months worth of social insurance in one go. Afterwards though, you should receive SVS bills on a quarterly basis.

Useful links

SEA – The self-employed in Austria group supports self-employed individuals by delivering information in the form of guidebooks and free articles in English. 

SVS – The social insurance organisation for self-employed people in Austria.

WKO – The Austrian Chamber of Commerce is a useful source of information for self-employed people.

Useful vocabulary

Sozialversicherung – social insurance

Selbständigen – self-employed

Neue Selbständige – new self-employed

Steuer – tax

Gesundheitsversicherung – health insurance

Pensionsvorsorge  – pension provision

Unfallversicherung – accident insurance

Verwaltungskosten – administration costs

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For members


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 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.