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Explained: How to understand your payslip in Austria

If you're employed in Austria, your monthly payslip is a very important document, but it's all too easy to ignore the paperwork and just appreciate the money that arrives in your account. Even many native speakers struggle to understand some of the terms and numbers.

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How much will you actually receive each month? Photo: Christian Dubovan/Unsplash

The basics

Most Austrian employees receive their pay monthly on a fixed date. Exactly when this happens should be stated in your employment contract.

It’s stated in Austrian law that you must receive a payslip, and that the information must be complete, clear and comprehensible, so that you can understand how your pay is calculated.

This is important not only so that you can confirm the details and check for any errors, but also for your financial records.

Your payslip is made up of identification details about you and the employer; your gross and net salary; and a breakdown of the components, deductions and additions.

Employer and employee details

Each payslip will include the name and address of your employer as well as details about you, the employee. These include your name, address and date of birth; the billing period; your insurance number, tax category and tax ID number; your hiring date (Eintritt, and if applicable, the date your employment ended, called Austritt). You will usually be given a staff number (Personalnummer) by your employer too.

Lohn or Gehalt

Your payslip will specify whether you receive wages (Lohn) or a salary (Gehalt).

These terms are used interchangeably in some countries and in Austria in informal contexts. But the main difference is that you earn a Lohn if your employment is based on an hourly rate, which means your pay varies based on hours worked, while a Gehalt is based on a fixed monthly rate. People who receive a Lohn are often called Arbeiter/Arbeiterinnen (workers) in Austria, compared to people who receive a Gehalt who are classed as Angestellten (employees).

Many employers in Austria pay a 13th and 14th salary, but there is no legal entitlement to this — it depends what’s in your collective agreement and/or employment contract. If you do receive it, it is taxed at a different rate to your usual monthly salary (the first €620 of these special payments is tax-free, after which the rate is 6 percent).

Bezüge

This section is for additional payments that aren’t part of your basic salary or wages. You might also have a section for Sachbezüge or ‘benefits in kind’, which could include company cars or equipment. These are strictly regulated and you can see the full law here.

If you undertook any business trips, you might receive Taggeld (a per diem). For domestic trips (at least three hours long and at least 25 km from your place of work), these are tax-free up to €26.40 per day, and if your employer pays a higher rate, the amount above this is taxed. You may also receive Kilometergeld (a mileage allowance) if you had to drive there, which is tax-free up to €0.42 per km. Detailed information on reimbursements and tax rules for business trips can be found here.

If you worked any overtime, you will see some payments for Überstunden (overtime). Overtime pay is usually divided into two parts: Überstunden-Grundlohn (overtime – basic pay) which is paid at your usual salary, plus Überstunden-Zuschlag (overtime – supplementary pay) which is paid at an extra rate. Exactly what counts as overtime and what rate it is paid will be regulated in your collective agreement or employment contract, and the rate may be more if you had to work on evenings, weekends, public holidays or otherwise in abnormal conditions.

Bruttobezug 

This is the ‘gross salary’ and it’s important to check this amount because other key payments like social security or sick pay are based on this.

Abzüge

These are deductions from your salary.

The biggest one is almost certainly Sozialversicherungsbeiträge or social insurance contributions. It may be broken down into Pensionsversicherung (pension insurance — you pay 10.25 percent of your salary for this), Krankenversicherung (sickness insurance — 3.87 percent of your salary), Arbeitslosenversicherung (unemployment insurance — 3 percent of your salary).

Lohnsteuer

This is your income tax. Austria has a progressive tax system which means the higher you earn the more you pay, and there is a tax-free allowance so that the first €12,000 you earn as an employee is not subject to income tax.

The rates are changing in 2021, so that the second level (payable on income between €18,000 to €31,000) will be taxed at 32.5 percent rather than 35 percent, and if this applies to you, you should see the change in your payslip from January 2021.

Pendlerpauschale

This is a ‘commuter flat rate fee’ paid to many employees who commute to work. For most workers who are eligible, this works out as €400 per year, but the exact amount can depend on factors such as the distance to work and how many days per month you commute. You can find out more about how this is calculated from the Chamber of Commerce. As an alternative, from July 2021 employers have had the opportunity to pay the costs of employees’ annual transport tickets tax-free.

Lohnnebenkosten

Your payslip may also show additional costs of employment, called Lohnnebenkosten or Dienstgeberanteile. These are the things your employer has to pay in connection to your employment, but which are not calculated as part of your gross salary, such as the employer’s share of social security contributions.

Auszahlungsbetrag or Auszahlung

This is the most important number to you, because it’s the payout amount: the amount of money that will be sent to your bank account. This might be exactly the same as your net income, but in some cases it will also include additional non-income payments or deductions, such as reimbursements for work-related expenses.

Abbreviations to know

BMGLBemessungsgrundlage or taxable income

SVSozialversicherung or social insurance

SZSonderzahlung or special payment

LstLohnsteuer or income tax

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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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