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Working in Austria For Members

FACT CHECK: Can you work in Austria without signing a job contract?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
FACT CHECK: Can you work in Austria without signing a job contract?
Pictured is a person about to sign a contract Photo by Andrea Piacquadio.

If you are working in Austria, you might have heard of jobs that do not come with a formal "Arbeitsvertrag" (work contract). But is this legal?

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Austria has long been an attractive destination for immigrants seeking employment opportunities. The country boasts a diverse labour market, with industries ranging from high-tech to traditional crafts and tourism. 

However, navigating the employment landscape can be complex for those considering a move to Austria or even those searching for a job after years of living here. For example, it sometimes occurs that job offers are made and accepted without a formal work contract being signed. In these cases, crucial information, including wage and work hours, is agreed upon only verbally. 

This is more common in entry-level or temporary jobs, and it's technically legal. Of course, verbal agreements can be dangerous if one party doesn't follow through with the arrangement. So, in true Austrian fashion, the government protects workers in complicated and bureaucratic ways.

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The difference between a work contract and a service note

One crucial aspect that workers in Austria need to grasp is the distinction between the Arbeitsvertrag (work contract) and the Dienstzettel (service note, or service record)

In Austria, there are no legal requirements for a traditional work contract. If you see a job offer and the company says that they don't need to send you a contract and that it can all be agreed on via a handshake, that's true.

However, you are entitled to a so-called "service note", a Dienstzettel, in German. This should be handed to you "as soon as possible" after the start of the work relationship, according to the Austrian government.

The service note or service record must contain crucial information, including your personal data and information about the company. Additionally, it must state the agreed starting salary and other remuneration components, the due date of the payments, the extent of annual leave, the agreed daily and weekly normal working hours, and more

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Both Austria's employment agency AMS and its Chamber of Labour AK have several tips and recommendations about work contracts and service notes in Austria.

READ ALSO: Can I get unemployment benefits in Austria if I’m self-employed?

Firstly, they warn workers that many employment contracts contain different types of non-competition clauses and confidentiality obligations, both of which are legal in Austria. They also mention that additional benefits, such as a company cell phone or car, could be included in the contract. If something was verbally agreed upon, ask to add it to the contract or service note. 

The AK reminds workers to check the contract thoroughly before signing it. If you notice any clauses that need to be clarified, you can reach out to the chamber for a free consultation. If you discover changes between the verbal agreement and the contract or service note, you can ask for the changes to be amended or deleted. 

Finally, ask for or make a copy of the signed contract.

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