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Probezeit: The probationary period rules new employees in Austria need to know

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Probezeit: The probationary period rules new employees in Austria need to know
People study a contract. Image by aymane jdidi from Pixabay

If you are starting a new job in Austria, it is likely that you will go through a "trial period". Here's what this means and your rights.


In Austria, labour law allows for a "trial" or "probation" period (Probezeit) at the beginning of many employment relationships. According to the country's employment agency AMS, this period is meant to "help both the employee and the employer get to know each other". 

However, it can feel like an insecure period for workers not used to such regulations because this time is subject to special agreements and provisions - in particular, employment can be terminated in a more straightforward process. 

Still, workers have rights during the period and certain things are not allowed. Here's what you need to know. 

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What exactly is a trial period?

First of all, a trial period is not a period where workers work for free. The company still needs to pay the employee a regular salary. The main difference between the trial period and regular employment is that during that time, both the employee and the employer can terminate the employment relationship at any time without giving reasons or notice.

The probationary period can last up to a month maximum - though it could be less than that if specified in an explicit agreement or the sector's collective agreement. 

In the case of the hotel and restaurant industry, for example, "salaried employees" (Angestellte) have a one-month probationary period, but "blue-collar workers" (Arbeiterinnen/Arbeiter) have a 14-day probationary period regulated in the collective agreement or by agreement between the contracting parties.

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Again, the AMS and the Chamber of Labour (AK) reiterate that the probationary period may not exceed one month. 

There are different regulations for apprenticeship. In these cases, the trial period lasts for three months, and any termination must be made in writing. 


How do salaries work during the probationary period?

During the trial time, the employee is entitled to the agreed remuneration, including vacation compensation, until the end of the employment relationship. This means that even if the employment is terminated by the end of the period, they will get a full salary and the equivalent payment regarding vacations.

If the employment continues, the probationary month is counted towards benefits, including vacation. 

If the probationary period is terminated during a period of sick leave, the employer is not obliged to continue to pay the remuneration after the termination, even if the employee concerned is still on sick leave.


How does termination during the trial period work?

The main characteristic of the probationary period is that the employment relationship can be terminated at any time without stating a reason - however, the declaration of termination must be received by either party on the last day of the probationary period - even if that day falls on a Sunday or a holiday - at the latest.

No notice period has to be observed, and there is no protection against dismissal for the employee. 

However, there are provisions against discrimination, so a dismissal could be contested within 14 days at the Labour and Social Court if it was due to gender, ethnicity, religion, ideology, age or sexual orientation or due to a disability. 

In order to end the employment relationship, there must be a delivery of the "notice of termination". The AMS recommends a declaration in writing and, if possible, handed over in person. 

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The termination can also affect specially protected persons, but in this case there must be a factual justification. For example, if an employee learns of her pregnancy during the trial period, she is not obliged to inform the employer. In case the employer is informed and dismisses the worker because of her pregnancy, this is considered discrimination on the grounds of gender and a violation of the Equal Treatment Act.

In such cases, the employee can contest the termination within 14 days in court. However, if the termination was "objectively justified", it is also allowed during pregnancy.


What happens after the end of the trial period?

There is no official transition between the probationary period and a permanent one - it happens automatically. After that, the employment follows the rules of a fixed-term or permanent relationship and can only be terminated in some instances. 



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