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Austrian traditions For Members

Costumes to alcohol: What are the workplace rules in Austria for Carnival?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Costumes to alcohol: What are the workplace rules in Austria for Carnival?
Dressing up is part of Carnival fun, but can you show up wearing a costume at work in Austria? (Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash)

From dressing up (by choice or employer request) to your days off and work Carnival parties, here's what you need to know about the holiday in Austria.

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Carnival is a festive period celebrated worldwide, and even if some of the most traditional or famous parties happen in Rio, Cologne or Venice, Austria also has its share of great (and old!) traditions and symbols. 

The carnival period in Austria has no fixed days, as it's determined by when Easter falls, like in other countries. In Austria, the celebrations typically happen from the Saturday before Shrove Tuesday to Ash Wednesday – this year, that's Saturday, February 10th until Wednesday, February 14th. 

None of the dates are an official holiday in Austria so most people will be working their regular jobs. So, what are the rules and expectations surrounding the celebrations and workplace?

READ ALSO: What you need to know about carnival in Austria

Can my boss ask me to dress up?

Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) employment law expert Michael Trinko told ORF that employees cannot be forced to dress up.

"In general, carnival costumes can't simply be ordered", he said.

However, there are some exceptions, for example, if you work as a waiter or waitress at a carnival party. In such cases, your boss may ask you to wear an appropriate outfit, "but the costume must not be degrading or ridiculous for employees", the expert said. In addition, the outfit must be provided or paid for by the employer.

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What if I want to dress up?

The expert recommends Carnival lovers clarify with employers in advance even if a choice of clothing is generally part of the "private sphere of employees". Certain professions also have a "customary appearance in the industry" that could be specified by the employer, the expert noted, citing professionals such as lawyers.

Additionally, regulations such as employee protection and hygiene that usually need to be observed are still valid during carnival season. So, if your safety shoes are required at work, you will not be allowed to wear clown shoes. 

The ÖGB employment law expert says that you are also not allowed to work at the bank counter in a pirate costume - for example - unless the employer expressly allows it.

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Can we have a party with alcohol at work?

In principle, there is no general ban on alcohol at work events in Austria. However, employees must not use alcohol, drugs or addictive substances to put themselves in a state in which they could endanger themselves or others. This applies before starting work, during work and also during breaks.

In some cases, there are strict special regulations for safety reasons, such as on construction sites or for truck drivers. "If the employer imposes an absolute ban on alcohol, I have to abide by it," Trinko says that a company agreement can also regulate alcohol consumption at work.

If the employer invites workers to a carnival party during working hours, this time must also be paid. However, attendance is voluntary and unpaid if the party takes place outside of working hours.

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READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about Faschingskrapfen

Carnival food

If you want to mark the date and still play it safe at work, just bringing some Krapfen (jam-filled doughnuts) to work is a good choice. 

The typical Viennese Faschingskrapfen will have a sticky apricot jam inside, and this filling should make up at least 15 percent of the entire doughnut, according to strict Krapfen standards. 

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