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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

Everything you need to know about annual leave in Austria

Considering an Austrian job offer or simply wondering how to make the most of your holiday entitlement? The Local explains how Austria's annual leave law works.

Camping tents in sunny grassy hills
Whether you use your holiday to explore more of Austria, travel further afield or visit home, here are the key rules to be aware of. Photo: Xue Guangjian/Pexels

We’ll start with the good news: as a worker in Austria, you have one of the most generous holiday allowances worldwide.

As a full-time employee, you’ll get 25 days of paid holiday as a minimum (and if you’re in it for the long haul, that rises to 30 days after 25 years, not necessarily all at the same company).

If you work part-time, the amount of paid holiday you receive is proportional: 20 days per year if you work four-day weeks; 15 days if you work three-day weeks, and ten days if you work two-day weeks.

Any additional holiday allowance will be regulated in either your collective agreement or employment contract; another good reason to read these documents carefully during the negotiation stage of a job offer! 

Depending on the company, the vacation year is either calculated from the first day you start working at the company, or using the calendar year.

More on working in Austria from The Local:

How much holiday can I take in my first year of a job?

During your first six months, as a full-time worker you accrue two days of paid leave for each month worked. This means that after working for one month you can take two days off; after working for two you can take four days off, and so on, but you can’t use your full 25-day allowance in these first six months. 

After six months, this no longer applies, and you can use your allowance whenever you agree with your employer.

How much holiday can I take at once?

For the most part, it depends on what you agree with your employer, but there are some rules to be aware of. For example, Austrian law states that as an employee you are entitled to take at least one vacation of at least six days during a working year.

Can I roll over holiday days?

In some situations, you may not want to use up your full allowance in one year, for example if you want to save your days for a big holiday or trip home.

In Austria, it’s most usual that you use up your allowance in the year it is granted for, but you can roll your days over for up to three years.

Note that it is against the law for you and your employer to agree for you to take payment instead of your holiday allowance. The only time this is possible is when your employment ends, in which case you can receive payment for any unused holiday days.

How does holiday pay work?

In Austria you get paid the same amount for days you take as annual leave as you would for any working day, which is called Urlaubsentgelt (holiday pay).

Austria also has the concept of a ‘holiday bonus’, which has a few different names in German: Urlaubsgeld, Urlaubszuschuss, Urlaubsbeihilfe and 14. Monatsgehalt. This isn’t regulated by law, but many employers pay out a ’14th month’ salary which is intended as a holiday bonus — it’s regulated by individual collective agreements or employment contracts. This is usually factored into annual salaries, in contrast to other kinds of bonuses.

Photo: Max Andrey/Pexels

Can my boss tell me when to take my holiday?

Well, it depends. In general, holiday dates are agreed between you and your employer, and by asking for the days you want as early as possible you will boost your chance of getting them.

Your employer does have the right to refuse a holiday request, but special circumstances need to apply that mean it would disadvantage the company, for example if there is a time-limited period where the company is especially busy.

Once the holiday has been agreed with the employer, your employer can only cancel it if there is a business emergency — in other words, if it is the only way to prevent the company suffering financial disadvantages — and in this case they need to compensate you for any costs you incur such as cancellation fees.

In general, your employer cannot force you to take holiday on a specific date, but they might have company-wide holidays in addition to your allowance (for example, many companies offer Christmas and New Year’s Eve as holiday) and there may be general guidelines, for example to ensure that not everyone takes the same two weeks off work.

On the other hand, in Austria you have the right to choose one day where your employer cannot refuse your holiday request. This is particularly useful if you want a religious holiday off work, or to plan for a family occasion or simply celebrate your birthday. You need to agree this in writing with your employer beforehand, at least three months before the date.

What if I fall sick on my holiday?

The Austrian law states that holiday is for rest, and no-one wants to fall ill on holiday.

You can have your holiday ‘converted’ to sick leave if you are ill for three days or more, and present your employer with proof such as a doctor’s note.

Can I take extra holiday unpaid?

There’s no specific provision for this in Austrian law, but it’s something that you and your employer can agree on together.

If you need the unpaid leave for a purpose other than holiday, you may be covered by another regulation. For example, fathers may take one month of unpaid leave after the birth or adoption of a child, childcare leave is possible if your child is ill, and if employees need to take time off to care for a close relative, this is possible under law (if your company has more than five employees and you have been working for at least three months beforehand). It is also possible to take unpaid study or training leave in Austria.

What applies during my notice period?

It is generally still possible to take vacation that you have earned during your notice period.

At the end of the notice period, if you have not taken all the vacation you accrued, you get the remainder paid out to you. 

Public holidays

On top of your annual leave allowance, Austria has 13 national public holidays, and as many as 15 in some regions.

Some are fixed on specific dates whereas others are attached to religious festivals which are on different dates each year. Here’s the full list of public holidays nationwide:

January 1st (New Year’s Day)
January 6th (Epiphany)
Easter Monday (April 5th in 2021)
May 1st (Labour Day)
Ascension Day (May 13th in 2021)
Pentecost (May 24th in 2021)
Corpus Christi Day (June 3rd in 2021)
August 15th (Assumption Day)
October 26th (National Day)
November 1st (All Saints Day)
December 8th (Feast of the Immaculate Conception)
December 25th (Christmas)
December 26th (Boxing Day)

Some states have additional public holidays: March 19th in Carinthia, Styria, Tyrol and Vorarlberg; May 4th in Upper Austria; October 10th in Carinthia; November 11th in Burgenland; November 15th in Lower Austria and Vienna. 

However, note that you won’t actually get all these days off work. If the holiday falls on a weekend, there is no paid day in lieu, which means the actual number of days off varies year to year. This is the case in many European countries, but not in the UK for example.

On a positive note, there are three other bank holidays which are not national public holidays, but many Austrian employers still give them as paid days off: Good Friday (two days before Easter Sunday), December 24th and December 31st. 

READ ALSO:

Do you have a question about working or other aspects of life in Austria? The Local gives you more than just the news; we are also here to support you in navigating work and life in your new home country. Get in touch with our editorial team at [email protected] and we will do our best to help you.

Note: This article was updated on October 20th to correct a typo in the sentence “This means that after working for one month you can take two days off; after working for two you can take four days off”. Thanks to the eagle-eyed reader who pointed this out.

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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about camping in Austria

Camping in Austria can be a lot of fun, but what are the rules? Here’s everything you need to know about setting up camp in the Alpine republic.

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about camping in Austria

Waking up beside a lake or surrounded by mountains is a dream Austrian holiday for many, but it’s important to know the rules about camping before heading off with a tent or campervan.

As the summer season approaches, here’s everything you need to know about camping in Austria.

Is wild camping legal in Austria?

Wild camping – setting up camp outside of a designated campsite – is generally illegal in Austria. This applies to both camping in a tent or sleeping in a van on the side of the road.

Exceptions to this rule do exist but usually only if the municipal authority grants a temporary exception, for example for a school trip or a youth club activity.

A bivouac (temporary camp without cover) is allowed in the event of bad weather or injury, but planned wild camping in the mountains is illegal. 

FOR MEMBERS: What are the rules for wild camping in Austria?

There are some regional differences though.

In the states of Salzburg, Vorarlberg and Styria there are no laws strictly forbidding camping outside of campsites, but local authorities can prohibit it and take action if necessary.

The strictest rules apply in national parks, nature reserves and special protection areas across Austria, so check before you plan your camping trip that your spot is not located in one of these areas.  

In most cases, if someone is caught camping illegally in Austria it is considered as an administrative offence and a fine can be issued, ranging from €5 to €500, depending on the location.

Camping in the forest

Camping in the forest is prohibited everywhere in Austria by law (specifically Section 33 of the Forest Act). The only exception is when you have the consent of the landowner.

Camping above the tree line

In Upper Austria and Styria you are allowed to camp in the mountains above the tree line, as long as you are outside of pasture areas.

In Vorarlberg this is also permitted, although the mayor of a municipality can prohibit the setting up of tents outside approved campsites if the interests of safety, health, agriculture or the protection of the natural balance as well as the landscape and townscape are “grossly violated”.

In Salzburg, camping above the tree line is in theory permitted, but the Alpine Association recommends groups wishing to camp should contact the nature conservation department of the responsible district administration before setting up. 

READ ALSO: How to explore the Austrian mountains in the summer like a local

Camping in a tent

Camping in a tent is the most common way of camping in the summer and most people pitch up on a dedicated campsite.

Many campgrounds have water and electricity facilities, as well as showers, cooking areas, recreation spaces and even kids clubs. Others have luxury elements like year-round heated pools, saunas, beach volleyball and restaurants.

Campsites are also often located near a lake or at the base of mountains, which means you can wake up to beautiful scenery every morning .

Some of Austria’s top camping associations include Camping Wien, Camping Steiermark and Top Camping Austria.

Camping in a van

Camping in a motorhome is only allowed at campsites in Austria and if someone is caught sleeping in a van in a prohibited area they can be fined.

The only exception is if a driver has to stop and recuperate before continuing driving.

Top camping tips

Austria is packed with stunning natural landscapes, so camping during the summer months is a popular activity – both for Austrian residents and tourists.

For this reason, it’s recommended to book ahead during the peak summer holiday months of July and August, whether planning to camp in a motorhome or tent.

Camping in motorhomes is also becoming more popular at some winter campsites during the ski season, so it’s always a good idea to book in advance.

Additionally, it’s advised to take bug spray when camping in Austria in the summer as insects like mosquitoes and ticks are common in countryside areas.

In fact, tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) – a viral infection transmitted by the bite of infected ticks – is endemic in Austria and it’s recommended to get vaccinated before going on a hiking or camping trip in the country.

The main affected areas for TBE are Tyrol and Upper Austria.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What is Austria’s ‘tick vaccine’ and should you take it

Useful vocabulary

Campsite – Campingplätze

Tent – Zelt

Campervan – Reisemobil

Electricity – Strom

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