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READER QUESTIONS

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

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

A woman takes a selfie in front of tulips blossoming at Karlsplatz in Vienna
Spring blooms are everywhere in Vienna now - a perfect time for a holiday break. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Celebrated on May 1st, Labour Day has been a public holiday throughout Austria for more than 100 years. 

It is known in the country as a “general day of rest and celebration”, and much of the events that take place on May 1st are dominated by the social democrats, who take the streets of Vienna in large marches, speeches and demonstrations. 

Even those who do not participate in the celebrations marking the struggles – and victories – of workers worldwide do enjoy the fact that, as a bank holiday (one of the few non-religious ones in Austria), they get to stay at home and not work for a day.

But this year, the holiday falls on a Sunday, 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

It wouldn’t be the first time this year, as New Year’s day was also on a Sunday, and Christmas will be too. 

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.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: The latest coronavirus restrictions in Austria

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’?

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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Vienna legally

Got an unwanted mattress, fridge, or sofa? Here’s how you can legally get it off your hands in Vienna.

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Vienna legally

If you find yourself with a large piece of furniture or big household appliance that has seen its prime and is not bound to the trashcan, then you might be wondering where to dispose of them – legally, that is.

Even if it is not uncommon to see furniture or appliances next to the big trashcans often placed near households and apartment complexes, it is illegal to leave them there.

Different cities have different methods – some will even pick up trash at specific times and places. To know how your city deals with bulky waste (Sperrmüll), you can google “Sperrmüll + the name of your city”.

READ ALSO: Why does Vienna’s waste department have a helicopter and a military plane?

Vienna has several waste collection points where you can leave bulky waste, electrical appliances, hazardous waste (in household quantities) and other old goods for no charge.

The use of the Wiener Mistplätze is subject to certain quantity limits and requirements, but they are to avoid industrial use. Therefore, most households will have no problem with the limitations.

Here you can find several collection points in Vienna.

It is worth pointing out that delivery to those sites can only be made by cars with Viennese license plates, on foot or by bicycle. Furthermore, no trailers or company cars are allowed to leave trash at these collection points.

What can you bring to the collection centres?

This is the place to bring large sheets of plastic foil, bulky or large metal parts and electrical appliances, for example.

Additionally, you can bring small amounts of bulky waste, wood, styrofoam, large cardboard boxes, green waste and used tires to any waste collection centres.

Depending on what you are disposing of, you might need to go to the Rinter centre, one of the larger ones.

READ ALSO: Hasta la mista, baby? How to vote for your favourite Vienna trash can joke

The centres also have a separate division where it is possible to donate old items still in good condition, the so-called 48er-Tandler-Box.

Tableware, small furniture, electrical appliances, clothes, toys and other items can be reused and bought at a low price at the 48er-Tandler reuse shop.

Most centres are open only from Monday to Friday during business hours, but others are also available on Saturdays.

What to do if I don’t have a car?

If you don’t need a car but still need to dispose of a large appliance, the Viennese solution varies.

Some will take public transport with a couple of friends trying to help them carry an old sofa via the u-bahn, although that can get a little tough at peak hour. 

Alternatively, you can borrow or rent a vehicle to try and save costs.

READ ALSO: The downsides of Vienna you should be aware of before moving there

But Vienna City also has a service that will pick up the trash for a low fee – even if it is located in the attic, a basement or a courtyard.

It’s the Entrümpelungsdienst und Sperrmüllabfuhr der MA 48. You can also ask for the “dump service” when the city of Vienna brings a trough (the smallest can fit 12 cubic meters).

Once you fill it up, they will remove it and take it to the appropriate place.

Costs will depend on the amount of trash, the size of the appliance, and where in the household it is located.

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