Working in Austria For Members

What are the rules about turning on the heating in the workplace in Austria?

Hayley Maguire
Hayley Maguire - [email protected] • 15 Nov, 2022 Updated Tue 15 Nov 2022 11:29 CEST
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The minimum recommended temperature for offices in Austria is 19 degrees. (Photo by Kübra Arslaner / Pexels)

We’re all well aware of the need to conserve energy in Austria this winter, but what does the law say about heating in the workplace? Here’s what you need to know.


People in Austria are used to warm buildings during the cold winter but this year could be different.

While it’s unlikely that people will be shivering at their desks, workplaces will be cooler than previous winters and most people will have to dress warmly.

This is due to pressure on companies through rising energy costs and the government's recommendation for minimum temperatures in workplaces amid energy saving plans.

FOR MEMBERS: READER QUESTION: When should I turn on my heating in Austria this year?

However, there are already reports of employers lowering the heating below official recommendations, leading to complaints from employees. And it’s not even full winter yet.

So what are the rules when it comes to heating public buildings and workplaces in Austria? Here’s a quick explainer so that you know your rights this winter.


What does the Austrian Federal Government say about heating?

In September, Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) urged operators of public buildings to lower the thermostat to 19C during the winter to save energy.

Likewise, the Labor Law in Austria states that in workplaces with low physical exertion, like in offices, the thermostat must be set between 19C and 25C.

For jobs that require normal physical activity (standing in a sales room or in retail), the temperature should be set between 18C and 24C. And for active jobs, such as in a warehouse, the minimum temperature is 12C.

READ MORE: How expensive are gas and electricity in Austria right now?

Unfortunately, for outside work, there is no minimum temperature. But employers are obligated to assess any hazards to health.

The reason for these rules is that working in cold conditions can impact performance, cause health issues and lead to an increased risk of accidents, according to the Arbeitkammer.

This year, the issue of being cold at work is even more prominent as many companies seek to lower heating bills and conserve energy.

One example is at the municipal administration building in Linz, Upper Austria, where the office temperature was just 16C, as reported by ORF. Following complaints from employees, the temperature has now been set at 21C, which is still below the 23C of recent winters.


What can you do if you are too cold at work?

Lawyer Raphael Schanda from Körber-Risak told ORF that employers have a “duty of care towards their employees” when it comes to heating in the workplace in Austria. 

However, if you are too cold at work and suspect that the heating is below the recommendations set by the government, then speak to your boss or the relevant line manager.

If this results in a conflict, then the next step can be to contact the HR department and refer them to the government guidelines for heating the workplace.

READ ALSO: What is the new cost of living ‘credit’ for self-employed people in Austria?

Ways to keep warm this winter

Everyone feels the cold differently, and while 19C might be comfortable for some, for others it will be too cold. Especially for people that sit all day at a desk.

To counteract any discomfort from feeling cold, here are some tips:

  • Wear warmer clothes and layer up.
  • Move around regularly – get up from the desk and walk.
  • Drink warm drinks.
  • Wear fingerless gloves.
  • Block any draughts from windows or doors.



Hayley Maguire 2022/11/15 11:29

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