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Distribution of responsibilities in the Federal system
Labour law is generally determined at national level, as it is predominantly a federal matter in terms of legislation and enforcement (based on Art 10 (1) 11 of the Austrian Constitution, Bundes-Verfassungsgesetz). Exceptional provincial competences exist for matters of provincial and municipal civil servants and agricultural workers. As the provinces have little competences in the field, the legal situation is uniform throughout the country and the laws enumerated bellow are thus federal laws.
Labour market policy in Austria is characterised by a close interaction between government and non-governmental institutions. The social partners (Sozialpartner) are involved in a great variety of activities and bodies devising and implementing legislation and policy measures. The main actors involved are - on governmental level - the Federal Ministry of Labour, the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs, the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection, the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, the Public Employment Service (Arbeitsmarktservice, AMS), the Federal Social Office (Sozialministeriumservice), and regarding youth employment also the Department for Families and Youth at the Federal Chancellery, and - on level of the social partners - the Chamber of Labour, the Austrian Economic Chambers (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, WKÖ), the Austrian Chamber of Agriculture (Landwirtschaftskammer, LKO), and the Trade Union (Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund, ÖGB).
Social partners and collective agreements
Employees automatically become members of the statutory Chamber of Labour (Arbeiterkammer). Furthermore, they may join the trade union (Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund, ÖGB). The Chamber of Labour, as well as Austrian trade union, are independent and democratic institutions which represent the social, economic, professional and cultural interests of employees in Austria. All trade unions (trade unions of different branches) are part of the Federation of Austrian Trade Union Federation (Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund, ÖGB). The ÖGB has its own youth organisation, the Trade Union Youth (Österreichische Gewerkschaftsjugend, ÖGJ), which consists of seven trade unions and is active in all federal states. It is the biggest political youth organisation in Austria and takes care of young people's rights regarding employment and professional education.
Chamber of Labour and Trade Union - alongside their counterparts on employer side, the Austrian Economic Chambers (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, WKÖ) and the Austrian Chamber of Agriculture (Landwirtschaftskammer, LKO) - are part of the constitutionally recognized social partnership (Sozialpartnerschaft), in the context of which they negotiate issues related to salaries/wages and assist the government in drafting legislation and factual issues, which fall under the responsibility of social interest groups. Trade unions, for instance, negotiate the collective agreements for various industry sectors within the framework of the social partnership. A collective agreement (Kollektivvertrag) is a binding agreement annually renegotiated for all employees within a certain sector by the trade unions with the employers (Chamber of Commerce). It sets equal minimum standards for wages and salaries ('minimum wages') and working conditions for all employees within a certain sector and thus plays a crucial role in the Austrian labour and social security system.
Services offered to members mayfurthermore include amongst others:
- free of charge legal assistance under the Austrian Labour Act, defence and recovery representation at labour and social courts (Arbeits- und Sozialgericht)
- legal advice on labour law regulations
- protection of apprentices and young workers
- help in matters of unemployment, social security as well as wage and salary tax
- matters of minimum wage and collective agreements
- basic protection and consultation regarding employee protection, environmental protection, and consumer protection
ThePublic Employment Service (Arbeitsmarktservice, AMS)
The Public Employment Serviceis responsible for unemployment insurance benefits in Austria (such as unemployment benefits or social welfare benefits). It plays an important role in labour market policies and strategies to reduce unemployment. It offers its services in regional AMS offices and is responsible for consultation, job referral, financial support and ensuring livelihood (e.g. through unemployment benefits and emergency assistance benefits) for persons who are permanent residents of Austria and are currently residing in Austria. The EURES-publication Living & Working in Austria by the AMS gives a detailed overview of the subject.
Bodies representing youth interests in labour
- at the enterprise level: confidential consultative council for young people (Jugendvertrauensrat)
- at intercorporate level:
Legal basis of the labour market policy
The Public Employment Service Act (Arbeitsmarktservicegesetz, AMSG) regulates the duties and the organisation of the Public Employment Service (Arbeitsmarktservice, AMS). It also forms the legal basis for the financial support granted by the AMS.
The Labour Market Policy Financing Act (Arbeitsmarktpolitik-Finanzierungsgesetz, AMPFG) regulates the financing of the labour market policy. The major part is derived from unemployment insurance contributions of employers and employees.
The Unemployment Insurance Act (Arbeitslosenversicherungsgesetz, AlVG) regulates the unemployment insurance duty and the conditions for the claim of unemployment benefits.
Further laws relevant for the job market include the
- Salaried Employees Act (Angestelltengesetz)
- the Labour Constitutional Act (Arbeitsverfassungsgesetz)
- the Waged Employees Severance Pay Act (Arbeiter-Abfertigungsgesetz)
- the Employment Safeguarding Act (Arbeitsplatzsicherungsgesetz)
- the Alien Employment Act (Ausländerbeschäftigungsgesetz)
- the Act on Continued Payment of Wages and Salaries (Entgeltfortzahlungsgesetz)
- the Equal Treatment Act (Gleichbehandlungsgesetz)
- the Maternity Protection Act (Mutterschutzgesetz)
- the Vacation Act (Urlaubsgesetz)
- the Employee protection (ArbeitnehmerInnenschutzgesetz)
- the Working Hours Act (Arbeitszeitgesetz)
- the Labour Market Promotion Law (Arbeitsmarktförderungsgesetz)
- the Insolvency-Remuneration Protection Act (Insolvenz-Entgeltsicherungsgesetz)
- the Federal Act on the Organisation of Working (Arbeitszeitgesetz)
- the Temporary Employment Act (Arbeitskräfteüberlassungsgesetz)
- the Special Assistance Act (Sonderunterstützungsgesetz)
- the Interim Aid Act (Überbrückungshilfengesetz)
- Federal Act on Corporate Staff and Self-Employment Provision (Betriebliches Mitarbeiter- und Selbständigenvorsorgegesetz)
- the Service Cheque Act (Dienstleistungsscheckgesetz)
Both the Federal Ministry of Labour and theFederal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection have a wide-ranging portfolio, covering areas such as social insurance, consumer protection, long-term (nursing) care, disability, income provision and social assistance, fundamental European, international and social policy issues, labour market, labour law and central Labour Inspectorates, as well as the Federal Disability Advocate’s Office. Their cooperation with each other, as well as with the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs, the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, the Public Employment Service (Arbeitsmarktservice, AMS), the Department for Families and Youth at the Federal Chancelleryand the social partners is indespensable for the further development of Austrian (youth) labour market and (youth) unemployment policy.
As depicted above, Austrian labour market policy is shaped by the close interaction of a large number of both governmental and non governmental actors. As much as the competent ministries, the constitutionally recognized social partners shape the labour market with their ideas and initiatives. Policies are generally developed under the cooperation of this wide variety of actors. Particularly the social partners weigh in the practical concerns of their employee and employer members and thus contribute to a balanced set of rules. Depending on the issues raised, the competent Ministry cooperates with other ministries, as well as with individual regional governments (provinces), stakeholder groups and other domestic and foreign authorities. Cooperation in such cases signifies coordinating varying objectives, conducting a periodic exchange of views, creating the toolkit necessary for performing the tasks, developing new laws, initiating projects, improving service and information, etc.
The Youth Guarantee Implementation Plan, for example, was set up in an inter-ministerial process with other key actors (e.g. Federal Social Office, Social Partners, the Federal Coordination Office for School to Work Transition, federal states) involved.