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Working in Austria For Members

EXPLAINED: When can I get a day off work in Austria?

Hayley Maguire
Hayley Maguire - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: When can I get a day off work in Austria?
Going on holiday is a common reason for taking time off work in Austria, but when else can you take a day off? (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

It’s important to know your employment rights when working in another country. Here’s what you need to know about taking a day off work in Austria.

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Austria is known for having a good work/life balance and for prioritising time off for rest. 

So it comes as no surprise that holiday entitlement is quite generous in the Alpine Republic and that workers enjoy a high number of public holidays every year.

But there are some rules to be aware of when it comes to taking time off work, as well as some special circumstances that international residents might not know.

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Taking a holiday (Urlaub)

Holiday entitlement for workers in Austria is enshrined in employment law which states full time workers (those working five days a week) can take a minimum of 25 days holiday every year - the equivalent of five working weeks.

The amount of leave a person can take for holidays then varies depending on how much they work.

Four days a week = 20 days of holiday per year.

Three days a week = 15 days holiday.

Two days a week = 10 days holiday.

One day a week = five days holiday.

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After 25 years of full time work with the same employer, workers then gain an extra five days of holiday every year, increasing the annual leave to six working weeks.

In most cases, employer consent is needed to take holidays, so always speak to a boss before booking a holiday. 

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But keep in mind that full annual holiday entitlement only kicks in after six months with an employer. Until then, employees gain two holiday days for every month worked.

Public holidays in Austria

Austria is considered as one of the leading countries when it comes to national public holidays with 13 every year, or up to 15 in some states.

But what happens if a public holiday falls on a weekend?

Saturday is technically not a rest day (unlike Sunday), 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.

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

However, when a holiday falls on a Sunday, very little changes 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. 

Unfortunately, for non-essential workers (those who usually work Monday to Friday), if a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday it is technically “lost”, and not replaced on another day.

For many international residents in Austria this can be surprising with countries including Belgium, England, Spain, and Thailand all compensating workers with a day off during the week if a public holiday falls on a weekend.

So far, there has been no discussion about changing the rules in Austria, so weekend public holidays are destined to be “lost” for the foreseeable future.

Sick leave

In some countries it’s possible to call in sick for a few days without having a doctor’s note and still get paid.

How long can I take off sick from work in Austria without needing a doctor’s note? Photo: Pixabay / Pexels

Unfortunately, Austria is not one of those countries and employees need to present a written letter from a doctor to take time off sick or receive sick pay (Krankenstand). 

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However, there are some benefits to this - mostly if someone falls ill while on holiday.

In this case, holiday pay can be transferred to sick leave if a worker is unwell for more than three days while on vacation and has a doctor’s note to prove it.

This has been especially useful for some people during the Covid-19 pandemic who caught the virus while on holiday.

Family and childcare

Workers can take paid leave for up to one week (five days) to care for a sick relative if they live in the same household, also known as Pflegefreistellung.

Parents can also take paid childcare leave if their kids are sick. Generally, one week of childcare leave is permitted each year.

In both cases, paid leave can be extended up to two weeks in certain circumstances.

Special circumstances

In Austria, employees are entitled to Sonderurlaub, otherwise known as special leave.

This allows people to request between one and three days of paid leave for a specific event, such as a wedding, moving house or attending a funeral.

This type of leave is in addition to a person’s standard holiday entitlement and so won’t eat into a vacation allowance.

Useful links

Living and working in Austria

Work in Austria

Austrian Economic Chamber (WKO)

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