Phased returns to work after long-term sickness and fines for non-compliance with quotas for disabled employees

Introduction of re-entry part-time

Re-entry part-time (Wiedereingliederungsteilzeit) is a new kind of part-time work following a long period (minimum six weeks) of sick leave. This new part-time model – which is subject to an agreement between the employer and employee - aims to reintegrate employees into the workforce after a sustained period of sickness absence. It comes into force on 1 July 2017.

Not all employees will be entitled to benefit from this part-time model. One of the main requirements (among others) is that the individual has been employed for at least three months prior to the commencement of the part-time work.

Because the arrangement involves part-time work, the reduction of working time will also result in a loss of income. Employees will be entitled to a degree of recompense via a “compensation payment” (Wiedereingliederungsgeld) financed by the health insurance fund.

If applied, this part-time model needs to cover a period of one to six months. That initial period may be extended once, by a further one to three months, on medical grounds provided the extension is approved by the works council and the health insurance fund. It will not be possible to apply this part time model more than once within 18 months.

The part-time model entails reducing normal working hours by at least 25%. Average working hours over the duration of the part-time model must be at least 50% of normal hours and the individual must work at least 12 hours per week. Subject to those requirements, it will be possible to reduce working hours on occasion by up to 70%.

Adjusted fines for not hiring disabled employees

The Austrian Disabled Employment Act (Behinderteneinstellungsgesetz) provides for equal treatment and protection of disabled employees. This act includes a penalty payment for employers refusing to hire people with disability.

Employers of 25 or more people must hire at least one person with a disability per 25 employees. This quota is not an enforceable legal obligation as the only sanction for non-compliance is payment of an “equalisation duty” (Ausgleichstaxe). This has been increased for 2017 as follows: € 253 per month for those employers with more than 25 but less than 100 employees, € 355 for employers with more than 100 employees, and € 377 for employers with 400 or more employees for each disabled employee that should have been employed.