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

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Reader question: What happens in Austria when a holiday falls on a weekend?
Spring season or der Frühling (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Epiphany is coming up, and for many, the holiday is an opportunity to get some much-deserved rest. This year, though, it falls on a Saturday. What does that mean?


Like most national holidays, this one also has religious roots. On January 6th, Catholics, Orthodox and Anglican Christians celebrate the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ, hence the name Epiphany, and a celebration of the "adoration of the Magi" when the three kings visited the newborn Christ.

This is why the day is also known as Three Kings Day, or Heilige Drei Könige (literally three holy kings).


Even those who are not religious do enjoy the fact that, as a bank holiday, they get to stay at home and not work for a day.

But this year, the holiday falls on a Saturday, meaning Austrians will miss out on one of their 13 public holidays of the year.

READ ALSO: Five spring destinations from Austria – and the Covid rules in place

The 'lost' holidays

For many immigrants, the fact that Austria doesn't have a "compensation day" if a holiday falls on the weekend can be surprising.

In total, 85 countries, including Belgium, England, Spain, and Thailand, will give a day off to workers if the holiday happens to be on the weekend. In addition, Austrian neighbours such as Switzerland and Germany have been discussing adopting such measures to avoid stress and give "urgently needed rest" to workers. 

There hasn't been much talk in Austria about that, possibly because the country has other struggles to fight when it comes to holidays (including the fact that Good Friday is not a bank holiday) and plenty of controversy concerning rest days

READ ALSO: Why is Good Friday not a holiday in Austria?

So what happens when a holiday falls on a weekend in Austria?

First of all, it depends on whether it is a Saturday or a Sunday.

Saturday is technically not a rest day, so people who usually work on Saturdays will have the day off (or get double pay for working on a holiday), and most shops and supermarkets will close.

This is when people will see a significant difference in daily life and in their work life.


READ ALSO: Six tourist scams to be aware of in Austria

However, when a holiday falls on a Sunday, very little changes. This is because Sundays and public holidays are regulated by the same laws. In both cases, stores and shops will be closed, and people who need to work will receive double pay on their basic hourly wage. 

So if a holiday falls on a Sunday, most shops will still be closed as they usually would have been, and those who need to work will receive a 100 per cent surcharge on their hourly wages. 

These are the general rules, but in Austria, much of the labour laws are governed by collective agreements of specific professions. Additionally, the federal regulations determine that exceptions to the weekend and holiday rest can be made for some essential workers, and exceptions can be granted after a specific ordinance by authorities.

For non-essential workers who usually run a Monday to Friday work week, not much changes then, and yes, the holiday on a Sunday would be "lost". 

However, for these people, holidays on a Saturday are not only lost as rest days, but as possible shopping and grocery days as well - leading to some very long Friday evening supermarket lines.

High quality of life

With the rest day on a Sunday enshrined in Austria's cultural traditions, workers can be sure that they will have a day to recharge at least one day a week.


But more than that, Austria also has one of the highest numbers of national public holidays, at 13 (with some states having up to 15). 

Workers are also entitled to one "private holiday" a year, which works similarly to a public holiday, but can be taken any day. 

Austria tops the list among the nine countries covered by The Local. At the same time, Germany only has nine national holidays, and some Swiss communes can have as few as five in total.

READ MORE: What are The Local Austria’s ‘reader questions’?


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also