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Working Hours and Overtime Regulations

Understand the laws governing work hours and overtime in Austria

Standard working hours

In Austria, a healthy work-life balance for employees is a priority, which is reflected in its regulations on working hours. The Working Hours Act (Arbeitszeitgesetz, ArbZG) establishes the framework, but collective agreements in specific industries can influence the specifics.

The Act outlines the maximum allowable working hours:

  • Weekly: The standard is 40 hours per week, averaged over a 17-week period. This means some weeks may have slightly longer hours to compensate for shorter ones.
  • Daily: The maximum is 12 hours per day.

There are exceptions to these rules:

  • Collective agreements may set a lower standard working week, commonly at 38.5 hours.
  • Agreements can extend daily working hours to 10 hours under specific circumstances.

Additional considerations include:

  • Flexible Working Hours: "Gleitzeit" systems allow employees more flexibility in scheduling their workday within certain parameters. This system may extend the daily working time up to 10 hours.


In Austria, overtime work is allowed, but there are regulations in place to protect the well-being of employees and ensure they are fairly compensated. The Working Hours Act (Arbeitszeitgesetz, ArbZG) provides the basic framework, which can be modified through collective agreements.

Overtime is defined as any hours worked beyond the standard working week as defined by law or a collective agreement. Generally, an employee's consent is required for overtime work, except in emergencies or unforeseen circumstances that could jeopardize the company's operations. The maximum daily working time, including overtime, is capped at 12 hours. The 11th and 12th hours are voluntary, and employers cannot force employees to work them. The average working time over a 17-week period cannot exceed 48 hours per week, including overtime. Employers must consider an employee's need for rest and recovery when assigning overtime, especially if the employee has responsibilities such as childcare or caring for a sick relative.

Overtime work must be compensated at a higher rate than regular pay. The specific rate can be stipulated in individual employment contracts, collective agreements, or legal regulations. If no rate is set, the following minimum increments are applied: 25% for overtime between regular working hours and 6 pm, 35% for overtime between 6 pm and 8 pm, and 50% for overtime after 8 pm, on Sundays, and public holidays. In some cases, employees may negotiate time off in lieu of overtime pay. However, this option requires an agreement between the employer and employee.

Rest periods and breaks

In Austria, labor law prioritizes employee well-being and mandates rest periods and breaks throughout the workday. The Working Hours Act (Arbeitszeitgesetz, ArbZG) establishes the baseline, with some variations possible through collective agreements.

Mandatory Rest Periods

Daily breaks are required after a certain period of continuous work, depending on the total working hours:

  • For working periods exceeding 6 hours, a break of at least 30 minutes is mandated.
  • For working periods between 4.5 and 6 hours, a break of at least 15 minutes is required.

There are exceptions to these rules. The rest period duration can be shortened to 15 minutes if the total daily working time doesn't exceed 6 hours and the employee agrees.

Lunch Breaks

Lunch breaks are not explicitly mandated by law, but the required rest period can be used for lunch if it falls within a reasonable timeframe. The duration of the lunch break is typically determined by collective agreements or company policy and is not included in working hours. It's common to have a one-hour lunch break.

Additional Considerations

Employers must provide a suitable space for employees to utilize their rest periods and breaks.

Night shift and weekend regulations

Night work and weekend work are permitted in Austria, with specific regulations in place to safeguard employee well-being and ensure proper compensation. These regulations are established by the Working Hours Act (Arbeitszeitgesetz, ArbZG), with potential modifications through collective agreements.

Night work is generally defined as work between 8 pm and 6 am. It typically requires the employee's prior consent, unless exceptional circumstances necessitate it. Employers must arrange regular health assessments for night workers (at least every two years) to monitor their well-being. Night work is generally prohibited for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Exceptions can be made with a medical certificate explicitly approving night work for a specific individual.

Working on Sundays is generally restricted in Austria and requires authorization from the local magistrate. Exceptions typically involve essential services or unavoidable circumstances. Weekend work on Saturdays is generally permitted but may be subject to specific regulations outlined in collective agreements for certain industries. Weekend work typically incurs a higher pay rate than regular hours. The specific increase is determined by individual employment contracts, collective agreements, or legal regulations (gesetzlichen Bestimmungen).

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