Unemployment insurance


In order to be entitled to benefits under the unemployment insurance scheme, the insured has to acquire certain periods of employment subject to compulsory insurance.

In Austria, as a first-time claimant of unemployment benefits, you need to have worked and paid compulsory insurance contributions for 52 weeks during the two years preceding the claim. If you have already received unemployment benefits, it is sufficient to have worked for 28 weeks during the year preceding the claim. Employees under the age of 26 require an employment period of 26 weeks within the past 12 months in order to qualify for unemployment benefits.

Good to know

Self-employed persons are also eligible for unemployment benefits if they choose to make voluntary contributions to an unemployment insurance scheme. However, the statutory terms and conditions are highly complex so that for the time being only few self-employed persons in Austria have chosen to do so. It is highly recommended to seek individual advice if you intend to take out unemployment insurance. 

Unemployment benefits

Relevant period taken as the assessment basis for unemployment benefits

If a person applies for unemployment benefits in the first half of the year, the income generated during the penultimate calendar year before the application will be taken as the assessment basis. 

If a person applies for unemployment benefits in the second half of the year, the income generated during the previous calendar year will be taken as the assessment basis.

Amount of unemployment benefits

Basically, daily unemployment benefits amount to 55% of the net income forming the assessment basis. In some cases, these rates are increased by additional benefits and, where applicable, family supplements. 

The maximum amount available for unemployed persons who are not entitled to family supplements is 60% of their daily net income according to the assessment basis. Unemployed persons who are entitled to family supplements may receive up to 80% of their daily net income according to the assessment basis. 

Duration

In principle, unemployment benefits are paid for a period of 20 weeks.

If you have worked and paid compulsory insurance for 156 weeks, you will receive unemployment benefits for 30 weeks.

This period is extended

  • to 39 weeks for persons who, at the time of asserting their claim, have completed their 40th year and have worked and paid compulsory unemployment insurance for 312 weeks during the past 10 years,
  • to 52 weeks for persons who, at the time of asserting their claim, have completed their 50th year and worked and paid compulsory unemployment insurance for 468 weeks during the past 15 years. 

Upon completion of occupational rehabilitation measures, unemployment benefits may, under certain circumstances, be paid for up to 78 weeks.

Good to know

If a person attends training measures under an outplacement programme (Arbeitsstiftung), the period during which unemployment benefits are received may be extended to a maximum of 3 or 4 years. 

For as long as unemployment benefits are drawn, the unemployed person is also covered by health and pension insurance. 

Detailed information on unemployment benefits

Click here for an overview of the various benefits provided by the Public Employment Service Austria (AMS)::

Legal basis

Unemployment assistance (Notstandshilfe)

In Austria, persons out of work are, under certain circumstances, eligible for unemployment assistance after their entitlement to unemployment benefits has expired. 

Eligibility for unemployment assistance is determined by the income of the applicant as well as the income of the applicant’s spouse or, in the case of unmarried couples, the income of the applicant’s life partner provided that they are cohabiting.

Please note

Unemployment allowance assistance does not depend on whether someone lives in their own home or apartment. The assessment basis relates to what they earn, not to what they own.

Amount of unemployment assistance

If the unemployment benefits without family supplements are higher than the compensatory allowance rate of EUR 889.84 per month (2017), unemployment assistance will amount to 92% of the unemployment benefits received. In all other cases, 95% of the unemployment benefits will be paid out as unemployment assistance. Any supplementary amounts granted in addition to the unemployment benefits will also be taken into consideration when calculating the amount of the unemployment assistance.

Example

Upon her 35th birthday, a dancer’s contract with the Vienna State Opera is terminated. She receives unemployment benefits. She does not find any other employment as a dancer before the statutory entitlement period expires and her efforts to find alternative jobs are not successful either. The dancer is in a relationship but lives on her own in a freehold flat. She draws unemployment assistance. A couple of months later, her life partner moves in with her. His income is now also taken into account when assessing whether she qualifies for unemployment assistance.

Legal basis: Unemployment assistance

Educational leave (Bildungskarenz)

In Austria, employers may grant employees who want to engage in continuing education or training leave for a period of two months to one year.

During this time period, the employees receive continuing education allowance (Weiterbildungsgeld) from the Public Employment Services (AMS). The amount of this allowance roughly corresponds to that of unemployment benefits.

Requirement for being granted educational leave

The employee must have worked for the employer, and paid unemployment insurance contributions, for an uninterrupted period of six months (three months in case of seasonal businesses) before the educational leave starts.

Duration of educational leave

Educational leave may be granted for a maximum of one year within a total period of four years. It may also be taken in parts, for instance of two, three, four or six months. Each part of the educational leave must last for a period of at least two months. 

Scope of continuous education measures

In order to qualify for continuous education allowance, applicants must either attend training measures of at least 20 hours per week or requiring a comparable amount of time (for instance during studies or a continued education course). Educational leave may also be granted for employees completing their studies and/or writing a thesis. If the employee takes care of a child under the age of eight, only 16 hours per week have to be spent on educational measures.

Please note

In principle, you are free to choose the type of training and the institution, including arts programmes. However, it is necessary to clarify in advance whether the respective institution/continuous education programme/training course will be accepted by the Public Employment Services.

Studies and final papers

Employees who pursue studies at a university or similar during their educational leave have to furnish proof, after every semester and/or every six months, that they have taken exams in compulsory and elective subjects that are equivalent to a total of four hours per week per semester or eight ECTS points. 

Academic success may also be furnished in alternative ways (for instance the passing of a diploma examination, PhD thesis defence, or confirmation of progress and expected positive completion of a thesis or other final paper). In such case, a time sheet signed by the student’s supervisor must be submitted.

Please note

Make sure to clarify in advance which proof will be needed. If you fail to furnish the required proof, payment of the continuous education allowance will be discontinued. 

Legal basis: Educational leave

Additional earnings while receiving unemployment benefits, unemployment assistance or educational leave allowance

In principle, you may generate additional earnings from marginal employment while receiving unemployment benefits.

Additional earnings limit/marginal earnings limits

Marginal earnings limits 2017

Monthly: EUR 425.70

A distinction has to be made between employed and self-employed activities because the respective marginal earnings limits are assessed differently. In case of additional earnings from employment, the insured’s pay is taken into account whereas in case of self-employed activities the threshold refers to income and turnover. For employment relationships agreed for periods of less than one calendar month, the daily marginal earnings limit has to be applied.

Additional earnings from self-employed activities

In such case, the basic calculation is complicated: 

An activity is deemed to be marginal if neither the income for one day of work nor 11.1% of the turnover allocable to one day of work exceeds the daily lower marginal earnings limit and neither the monthly income nor 11.1% of the monthly turnover exceeds the monthly lower marginal earnings limit.

Please note

In principle, the AMS distinguishes between permanent and temporary self-employed activities. A self-employed activity is temporary when the contract is fixed term, for instance for a voice-over job or a workshop. If the person concerned is regularly engaged in self-employed activities which are not limited to a certain time period by contracts, the AMS assumes permanent self-employment even if the person is not subject to compulsory insurance with the SVA.

Different calculation models apply:

Example of temporary self-employed activities

A composer who has filed for unemployment is offered to compose an advertising jingle. He is paid a flat fee of EUR 1,500. As this amount exceeds the monthly marginal earnings limit of EUR 425.70, he loses his unemployment benefits for the month concerned and beyond.

Example for permanent self-employed activities A literary translator who used to be employed with a publishing house has filed for unemployment. However, she repeatedly accepts translation jobs paid on a fee basis. The Public Employment Services (AMS) assume that this constitutes a permanent self-employed activity. Therefore, the AMS reassesses on a monthly basis whether the translator is entitled to unemployment benefits for the respective month.

Please note

It is important that the total self-employed income (according to the tax notice) does not exceed the lower earnings limit of EUR 5,108.40 (2017) during the year in which unemployment benefits are received. Otherwise, you will retroactively become subject to compulsory insurance with the SVA and, the moment this limit is exceeded, you will also lose your entitlement to unemployment benefits. You may have to pay back all benefits already received under the unemployment insurance scheme!

Exception

In case of a  suspension of self-employed activities, additional earnings from self-employed activities may, under certain circumstances, exceed the marginal earnings limit.

Important note:

Please make sure to obtain individual advice!

A brochure compiled by the Austrian Cultural Council (Österreichischer Kulturrat) provides insight in this highly complex topic:

Information brochure Austrian Cultural Council: Selbstständig-Unselbstständig-Erwerbslos (Self-employed-Employed-Unemployed)

New: Additional earnings up to twice the marginal earnings limit

Additional earnings from self-employed and employed activities must not be added up, i.e. it is possible to have additional earnings both from self-employed and employed activities, in both cases up to the monthly marginal earnings limit, while receiving unemployment benefits/unemployment assistance. As a result, the maximum additional earnings correspond to twice the lower earnings limit. Legal basis: The marginal earnings limits are governed by section 5 (2) of the General Social Insurance Act.

Other social benefits

Temporary posting abroad

The following basic rule applies to persons who want to work in another country within the EU: During temporary activities of up to 24 months in another EU Member State, the employee’s country of origin remains in charge of social insurance. The term used in this connection is temporary posting abroad.
 
The A1 e-form has to be completed in advance.

Employees may be posted abroad by their employers; self-employed persons may also decide to temporarily work abroad.

Legal basis: Regulation 883/2004

General affiliation of the posted worker to the sending Member State

A posted worker is deemed to be affiliated with the sending state if, during the time period directly preceding the posting, the posted worker was (at least for one month) subject to the legal provisions of the Member State in which the sending company has its registered office. It is irrelevant in this connection whether the respective person pursued gainful employment, was co-insured as a family member, had opted for self-insurance or just resided in the sending state. That means that employees who are sent abroad to work for a company that just hired them are also considered posted workers. However, the prerequisite is that the posted workers’ connection to the country of origin is maintained in terms of labour law and organization and that the workers have the possibility to continue working for the sending company upon their return.

Please note

If it is planned from the outset that the person will stay abroad for more than 24 months, the social security system of the state in which the activity will be pursued will be in charge from the very first day onwards. However, exceptional provisions apply in special cases. 

With open-ended contracts, it has to be assumed that the posting is not of a temporary nature.



Frontier workers

If you work in several Member States of the European Union at the same time or in the course of one year, for instance because you live in an area close to the border or you are working on art projects in several countries, the social laws of your country of residence will apply provided that you pursue “substantial” employment there as well. Whether this is the case is decided by the social insurance authority of the state of residence.

Transferring unemployment benefits

In general, to receive unemployment benefits you need to stay in the country which pays your benefits so that you are available for the jobs you may be offered. However, under certain conditions, you may receive your unemployment benefits in another EU country during a limited period of three months (extension to six months is possible if certain criteria are met) if you can prove that you have realistic chances of finding employment in such country. 

A summary of all relevant information on this topic, the eligibility criteria to be met, the forms to be completed and the deadlines to be observed are available at the following EU websites:

Transferring unemployment benefits

Click here for the respective forms