UPDATED: Covid-19: What are Austria's new rules around sick leave for employees?
Telephone sick notes are back — but only for people with Covid-19, according to some reports. Here's what you need to know about the new rules in Austria.
As the quarantine requirement for positive Covid-19 cases in Austria is removed, people with the virus will now be able to obtain a sick note from a doctor by telephone again if they cannot work due to symptoms.
In the earlier stages of the pandemic, sick leave was also possible for all other illnesses by telephone.
However, there is confusion surrounding the new rules with differing interpretations of the guidelines being offered by the Ministry of Health and the Austrian Medical Association (ÖÄK).
On Monday August 1st, it was announced by the Ministry of Health that people will now have to actively ask a doctor for a sick note if they have Covid-19. Up until now, if someone tested positive, they received a notice of quarantine, which automatically put them on sick leave and self-isolation.
But Edgar Wutscher, Vice President of the ÖGK, contradicted the ministry and said: "From our point of view, it is possible to call in sick for all illnesses.
"In some federal states, such as Vienna, the telemedical rules in the overall contract never ended the telephone sick note. And in the other federal states as well, the determination of incapacity and ability to work is basically the responsibility of the doctor."
Meanwhile, when asked by APA on Monday, the Ministry of Health and the health insurance fund ÖGK repeated that only Covid-19 patients can get a sick note by phone.
The Local will monitor this story and update our report when the rules have been fully clarified by the relevant Austrian authorities.
What else has changed?
Also from Monday August 1st, mandatory self-isolation for people infected with Covid-19 ends in Austria.
However, if you have tested positive for Covid-19 and leave the house, you must wear an an FFP2 mask unless you are outdoors and there are no other people within two meters of you.
These so-called Verkehrsbeschränkung or “traffic restrictions” apply to all people who have tested positive, whether that is with an antigen test or a PCR test. But if you test positive with an antigen test and the subsequent PCR test is negative, the restrictions are lifted.
As before, if you test positive with both an antigen and a PCR test, the restrictions last for five days. After this time there is the option of doing a PCR test where the so-called 'CT results' can be analysed.
The CT value is technical information shown in lab reports in Austria for positive results. When the value is higher than 30, people have been allowed to leave their homes despite a positive test, as it means they have a low viral load. With the changes, they will no longer have to stick to any restrictions if their test is negative, or shows this value as higher than 30.
The maximum duration for the 'traffic restriction' is 10 days.
This means as long as you wear a mask at all times, it is possible to meet up with friends, visit a museum, or go to work while testing positive.
There are some exceptions though — people with Covid-19 cannot visit retirement and nursing homes, hospitals, day-care facilities for disabled and elderly people, Kindergartens, primary schools or other care facilities for children under 11.
Additionally, people belonging to high risk groups are still entitled to work from home if their health could be endangered by catching Covid-19.