Working in Austria For Members

How long do I have to work for in Austria to get unemployment benefits?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
How long do I have to work for in Austria to get unemployment benefits?
What unemployment benefits are you entitled to in Austria? (Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash)

Losing your job can be a massive shock on plans and family finances, but in Austria, many people are entitled to several unemployment benefits. Here's what you need to know.


Austria has a hefty social system, with high taxes and social contributions paying for public services and benefits to citizens. As a result, workers in Austria are in a particularly advantageous position, as they may be entitled to many benefits even if they quit or lose their jobs.

Here's what you need to know about Austria's unemployment benefits, who are entitled to them and how to get them.

Am I entitled to unemployment benefits?

According to Austria's employment service (AMS), people are entitled to benefits if they meet the following conditions: 

  • They are able to work, willing to work and unemployed.
  • They have registered as unemployed with their local AMS.
  • They are employable in the labour market.
  • They are willing to work at least 20 hours per week (unless they have specific childcare obligations).
  • They have worked for a certain period subject to unemployment insurance (Anwartschaft)
  • The maximum period of entitlement to unemployment benefits has not expired. 


Here's how long you need to work for entitlement:

  • In general, you must have worked 52 weeks in the last two years, subject to unemployment insurance (regular and registered part and full-time employment are subject to this insurance).
  • If you are applying for unemployment benefits for the second time or more, 28 weeks of work in the last year is also sufficient. 
  • If you are under 25, 26 weeks of work is enough, even if you are applying for the first time.

The entitlement and requirements are the same regardless of your citizenship, though centre-right politicians of the ruling ÖVP party have publicly said they'd favour a reform increasing the working time for non-Austrians. However, there are currently no formal plans for a change. 

People are also entitled to benefits regardless of whether they quit or were fired from a previous job.

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How much money are people paid?

AMS itself says: "the calculation of unemployment benefits is complicated". This is because it is based on a series of principles, mainly on the previous monthly contribution bases within the social insurance institutions. It will also depend on how long you have contributed to the system.

However, the basic unemployment benefit amount is usually 55 percent of a person's net income. 

You may also be entitled to a supplement if the basic amount is lower than a guideline rate. A family supplement may also be if you make a "significant contribution" to a child (including stepchild, adopted, foster or grandchild). The family supplement may also be given if you have a spouse or partner with little or no income.

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How long will I receive unemployment benefits?

In principle, people can receive unemployment benefits for 20 weeks. 

However, the duration increases if you have worked for three years (to 30 weeks), have reached the age of 40 and have worked for six years within the last 10 (to 39 weeks), have reached the age of 50 and have worked for nine years within the last 15 ( to 52 weeks), receive unemployment benefits after completing an AMS "vocational rehabilitation program (to 78 weeks under certain conditions) and attend a specific training (up to four years extension).

How do I apply for unemployment benefits?

Application to the benefits is made through AMS. You need to register as unemployed and apply either at your AMS  office with the help of your advisor or via your eAMS online account; if you have registered by phone, you will receive your application by mail. 

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What if I am self-employed?

In general, self-employed people do not pay into unemployment insurance and therefore are not entitled to AMS benefits. 

However, you may voluntarily pay into the insurance and have the same rights as employed workers. This means that you'll need to have contributed for 52 weeks within the last two years to apply for a first time - if you had a regular employed job before becoming self-employed, that time could count towards the 52 weeks total.

Do I get unemployment benefits in Austria if I have worked in the EEA/EU area or Switzerland?

This is tricky, and it depends on whether you kept ties to Austria during your employment abroad. 

The AMS treats periods during which you worked in another country from the EEA, the EU or Switzerland as Austrian working periods if:

  • You have worked and earned at least one day in Austria above the marginal earnings threshold after the employment relationship in the EEA/EU area or Switzerland.
  • Or if you have returned to Austria at least once a week during your employment in the EEA/EU area or Switzerland.
  • Or if you have always maintained your connection to Austria during your employment in the EEA/EU area or Switzerland, including if you have the centre of your vital interests in Austria (always registered in Austria, family in Austria, etc.).

Your AMS advisor will be able to know your case and whether or not you are entitled.


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