Third quarter changes – with more in the pipeline

The third quarter of 2011 did not bring major changes to Austrian employment law but a number of other developments will impact upon employers.

Parental leave

The Austrian Ministry for Women’s Affairs recently announced plans to promote parental leave for fathers. The Ministry proposes to modify the conditions applying to  parental leave with a view to encouraging  fathers to take leave, preferably  for at least one month.

Golden Handshakes

The Ministry of Finance has announced measures to deter early retirements. One result will be that so called “golden handshakes” will no longer be tax deductable from operating expenses. Additionally, there are plans to tax the purchase of extra pension years.

Retail Sector

The Austrian Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection recently imposed a limit upon the working time of employees in the retail sector. Subject to limited exceptions and an averaging of relevant periods of working time, employers will be subject to a fine if they allow employees to work beyond 1p.m. for two consecutive Saturdays. In other words, employees must generally have every other Saturday afternoon off work if the employer is to avoid penalty. Adherence to this limit will be controlled and reported on by the Labour Inspection Authority.

Anti-Bribery

The Austrian government recently announced a tightening of Austrian anti-bribery provisions. These new rules include, amongst other things, provisions regarding whistle blowing, as well as bribery as commonly understood ie affording certain people special treatments with a view to obtaining favours in return. Granting minor favours/invitations only is not covered by the Austrian Anti-bribery Act.