Working in Austria: Why foreigners find it hard to integrate in the workplace

A recent study shows that foreign workers are increasingly finding it hard to develop and advance in their careers in Austria.

Working in Austria: Why foreigners find it hard to integrate in the workplace
Foreign workers find it hard to integrate in the workplace in Austria, according to the latest Expat Insider survey. Photo by Pixabay.

The Expat Insider 2022 survey made headlines earlier this week when it was revealed that Austria was ranked as the world’s second least friendly country.

But the results show that foreign residents also struggle to integrate in the workplace and build a career in Austria.

The InterNations survey considered aspects such as career prospects, salary, job security, culture and satisfaction in the working abroad section – something that is often a key part of living in a different country.

READ MORE: Austria ranked world’s ‘second least friendly country’

Austria currently ranks 19th out of 52 countries for working abroad, losing its coveted spot in the top ten from last year.

While 68 percent of those surveyed rate job security in Austria as good (compared to the global average of 59 percent), only 62 percent believe they are paid fairly for their work in relation to their industry, qualifications and role.

Furthermore, 35 percent say local business culture in Austria stifles creativity and unconventional thinking, and 26 percent are unhappy with their career prospects. Globally, the results are 26 percent and 22 percent respectively.

As one international resident from Italy said: “The international job market is very small and limited to specific positions.” 

READ ALSO: ‘Life is about opportunities’: Why people move to Austria

On the other hand, 72 percent are happy with their working hours (compared to 63 percent globally), which aligns with Austria’s reputation for having a good work-life balance.

Additionally, foreigners in Austria find it hard to make friends with locals with 52 percent saying they are unhappy in this category.

One respondent from Chile said: “It takes such a long time to make local friends here.”

And 41 percent described the local population as unfriendly towards foreign residents, which was more than twice the global average of 18 percent.

In comparison, Denmark came in at number one for working abroad where 81 percent of respondents rated the local business culture positively.

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EU takes action against Austria on working rights

Austria comes up short in areas such as 'transparent and predictable working conditions' and 'promotion of equality in the labour market', the EU Commission has said.

EU takes action against Austria on working rights

The EU Commission has reprimanded Austria on several labour market issues, according to a press statement by the Brussels-based authority.

Austria is lagging in properly implementing EU regulations in “transparent and predictable working conditions” and “promotion of equality in the labour market”.

After the European Union sends out directives to member states, it also sets a deadline for the countries to bring the EU-agreed rules to the national level.

READ ALSO: 10 ways EU countries aim to cut energy bills and avoid blackouts this winter

The first directive for “transparent and predictable working conditions” provides more extensive and updated labour rights and protection to the 182 million workers in the European Union.

The EU Commission stated: “With the new rules, workers have, for instance, the right to more predictability regarding assignments and working time. They will also have the right to receive timely and more complete information about the essential aspects of their job, such as place of work and remuneration”.

Austria and 18 other member states have failed to communicate the complete transposition of the directive into national law by the deadline of August 1st.

READ ALSO: 10 ways EU countries aim to cut energy bills and avoid blackouts this winter

Promotion of equality in the labour market

Additionally, Austria has failed to notify national measures transposing the “Work-Life Balance Directive” by the EU and has been notified along with 18 other countries.

The directive “aims to ensure equality in labour market participation by encouraging equal sharing of care responsibilities between parents”.

“It introduced paternity leave, ensuring that fathers/second parents have the right to take at least ten working days of paternity leave around the time of birth of the child. The Directive also establishes a minimum of four months of parental leave, with at least two of the four months non-transferable from one parent to another.

READ ALSO: Non-EU family members of EU citizens can obtain long-term residence, court rules

“It establishes five working days per year of carers’ leave for each worker providing personal care or support to a relative or person living in the same household and gives all working parents of children up to at least eight years old and all carers a right to request flexible working arrangements.”

The Austrian federal government now has two months to respond to the EU Commission’s letter of formal notice, otherwise, it faces another warning – and could eventually see its case going to the European Court of Justice.