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Working in Austria: What are my rights as a pregnant person?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Working in Austria: What are my rights as a pregnant person?
What are your rights as a pregnant person working in Austria? (Photo by freestocks on Unsplash)

If you work in Austria, you have several rights, particularly if you are expecting a baby. Here's what you need to know.


Austria has many laws and regulations to protect women and their pregnancies - as long as you follow specific criteria, for example, being employed and contributing to the social security system.

If you just found out you are pregnant, here are all your rights (and responsibilities) as a paid worker in Austria. 

What are your duties?

You are obligated to notify your employer as soon as you become aware of your pregnancy - though many people wait until they receive their Eltern Kind Pass, the official document from the doctor, which they receive after around eight weeks of pregnancy. Some people will even wait until the first trimester of pregnancy has passed to notify their employers.

But once you've notified them - even showing a doctor's certificate of pregnancy if your employer requests it, then the protective provisions of the Maternity Protection Act apply. 

READ ALSO: Four things you should know if you're going to give birth in Austria

What if I am in the probationary period?

Austria's labour laws allow for a probationary period during which the employment relationship can be quickly terminated. However, being pregnant is not a valid reason for such termination. So, if your employer has dismissed you (even if during the trial period) because you are pregnant, that is unlawful discrimination on the grounds of gender and a violation of the Equal Treatment Act, according to the Chamber of Labour.

Additionally, you are not obliged to inform the employer of your pregnancy during the trial period. 


What are your rights?

Perhaps the most essential right is the absolute protection against dismissal: if you are pregnant and have a permanent employment contract, you may not be dismissed.

Protection against dismissal lasts until four months after giving birth. If you take maternity leave, you cannot be dismissed until four weeks after the end of your maternity leave.

As a pregnant person, you also have other rights before you go on maternity leave. For example, you can be released from work before the protection period if there is a risk to you or your child's life or health connected to your work. You must submit a medical certificate for this, though. 

READ ALSO: Austria approves changes to the mandatory 'family passport' Mutter-Kind-Pass

You can also request changes for your comfort and health, such as a chair if you work standing up or even a suitable bed or couch if you need to lie down and rest during work hours or a smoke-free area for your breaks (there are even more regulations regarding specific work bans you can check below).

Your working hours also become more flexible once you're pregnant, as you are entitled to visit your doctor for examinations, especially the mandatory ones, during working hours if it is not possible or reasonable for you to have them at other times. Your employer is obliged to continue to pay you your wages or salary as usual during this time.


Work bans

The Chamber of Labour states: "Heavy lifting, stress and dangerous work are all harmful to a pregnant woman and her unborn child, which is why such activities are prohibited for pregnant women." 

There are specific rules regarding work that is considered hazardous to health. For example, a pregnant employee may not carry out any job that requires her to regularly lift loads of more than 5 kg or occasionally lift loads of more than 10 kg without mechanical aids.

From the beginning of the 21st week of pregnancy, the employee may only perform standing work for 4 hours daily. For the remaining time, the employer must assign an occupation that can be performed sitting down. From that same week, pregnant women are absolutely prohibited from working under time and performance pressure.

Additionally, they must not work with substances, radiation, dust or vapours that are hazardous to help or carry out work under the influence of heat, cold, or moisture - or with a particular risk of accidents.

As a pregnant or nursing mother, you are not allowed to work at night, apart from a few permitted exceptions, such as in the transport sector, for music or theatre performers or for nursing staff, when expectant (and breastfeeding!) mothers may only work until 10 pm at the latest.

READ ALSO: The Austrian rules that make it hard for single women to have a baby

Following night work (from 8 pm to 6 am), they must have an uninterrupted rest period of at least 11 hours. 

It is important to note that an employee must not suffer any financial disadvantage due to the prohibition of specific work. 

Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers may not work overtime. Under no circumstances may the daily working time exceed 9 hours or the weekly working time exceed 40 hours.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What you need to know about parental leave in Austria


Maternity leave or Mutterschutz

Austria has very strict rules for maternity leave, a period known as Mutterschutz, or "mother protection". You are not allowed to work in the last eight weeks before your due date, and this maternity protection lasts for eight weeks after the child is born. 

If the protection period before childbirth is shortened because the child is born earlier, the protection period after birth is extended by the extent of the shortening to a maximum of 16 weeks.

In the case of premature births, multiple births or caesarean sections, the protection period after delivery is at least 12 weeks.

READ ALSO: Does having a baby in Austria make it easier for parents to become Austrian?

You will receive a maternity leave allowance from your health insurance fund. Your employer does not pay any wages or salary during this period, but you must inform your employer four weeks before you take maternity leave.

These protections apply regardless of the person's citizenship, the duration of the employment relationship or the extent of the employment (for example, regarding working hours).


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