Working in Austria For Members

What are Austria's 'personal holiday' rules?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
What are Austria's 'personal holiday' rules?
Going on holiday is a common reason for taking time off work in Austria, but when else can you take a day off? (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

In Austria, workers are entitled to a 'personal holiday', which bosses cannot dictate or deny. Why does this right exist, and how to use the day?


Austria has a very particular "personal holiday" regulation which allows workers to, once a year, unilaterally determine when they want to take a day off. The day will be taken from the 30 (or 36, depending on the case) holiday days they are entitled to per year.

The difference to typical vacation days is that the employee can decide when to take it - though they must inform the employer in writing three months in advance.

Also, unlike a regular holiday application, the employer can't refuse a personal holiday. They can ask the employee not to take it, but it will ultimately be the employee's decision. This goes even for work that is considered essential for operational reasons.

If the worker agrees to work on the day of the personal holiday after the employer requests, they will be entitled to holiday pay. However, the employee is no longer allowed another personal holiday in the current vacation year but won't lose any vacation days either.

READ ALSO: How do Austria’s public holidays stack up against the rest of Europe?


Why does the regulation exist?

The personal holiday was created after a judicial decision in Austria when a Viennese man sued for discrimination because certain groups (members of the Protestant and Old Catholic Church) were allowed to take Good Friday off as a religious holiday. 

In 2019, the Viennese demanded a holiday salary for his work on Good Friday. The case went all the way to the European Court of Justice, which ruled that having holidays only for a specific part of the population went against the European Union's equal treatment directive.

Since then, workers in Austria have been allowed to take "personal holidays,” and Good Friday has stopped being a legal holiday in the country.


The issue has been debated ever since. In 2020, the Constitutional Court (VfGH) in Austria rejected the application of the Protestant and Old Catholic Churches, among others, to repeal the current regulation on Good Friday.

Several representatives of Churches have asked for Good Friday to be a holiday for all Austrians. “It’s about lifting unequal treatment, so we demand a holiday for everyone,” protestant superintendent Matthias Geist told broadcaster ORF. But there are no signs of changes in the near future.


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