Types of employment
Distinctions in forms of employment bring with them different rights and obligations for the contracting parties.
The description of the employment relationship in the contract is essentially of little significance in terms of legal qualification. The decisive factor in each individual case is how the contractual relationship is actually structured and how the terms of the contract are handled between the contracting parties.
Depending on the case, it may be a genuine employment relationship, in which case the employee must be registered with ÖGK as an employee, or, for example, a pure traineeship, in which case the volunteer is subject to partial accident insurance and must therefore be registered directly with AUVA for insurance before the start of the traineeship.
“Real” holiday work experience trainees are school or university students who undergo practical work which is required or customary as part of the curriculum or conditions of study, without receiving payment or benefits in kind. While working, they are insured in case of accidents under the statutory accident insurance for school/university students, without any contribution from the employer and without registering for social security. A holiday work placement is not just for holidays; it can be completed at any time of year. The following criteria are typical of a placement for a holiday work experience trainee:
- It must be evident that school/university students studying a certain subject are employed in the company within this same field.
- The practical work at the company shall correspond to the education and training objectives of the type of school or conditions of study concerned.
- The duration of the holiday work placement shall comply with the applicable training rules. The employer shall keep evidence of the training requirements.
- The holiday work experience trainee shall not receive payment or benefits in kind, nor is she/he entitled to such under employment law.
- There shall be no personal obligation to work, no subjection to instruction and inspection and no organisational integration in the company.
- The focus of the activity is on education and training rather than performance.
If school/university students are employed during their internship as employees with personal and economic dependence, or if they are subject to liability for income tax due to payments or benefits in kind granted to them, then they must be registered!
The contributions shall be calculated according to the activity in the worker or employee group of employees. With marginal employment, the marginal worker or marginal employee group of employees shall apply. If the employment lasts longer than one month, then payments to the company pension plan (pension contributions) shall be made.
Special regulations in the hotel and catering industry:
- An employment relationship is justified only by a holiday work placement in the hotel and catering industry.
- Voluntary service is excluded by a mandatory internship in the hotel and catering industry.
- The appropriate collective agreement shall be used. Holiday work experience trainees shall be entitled at least to remuneration equivalent to the applicable collectively agreed provisions.
- These holiday work experience trainees shall submit claims using the worker or employee group of employees.
If school/university students are employed during holidays as regulat employees with personal and economic dependence in return for remuneration, they are. They shall as employees be subject to compulsory insurance from the Austrian General Social Security Act (ASVG).
The employee position signifies in particular that the school/university student is committed to personal work performance, follows instructions regarding working hours, place of work and work behaviour, is subject to the relevant monitoring and is integrated in the business organisation.
- For these employees, the respective wage-influencing (collectively agreed) regulations shall apply.
- The social security contributions at least shall be paid from the remuneration due (and from special payments).
- The contributions shall be calculated with reference to the worker or employee group of employees. If the income earned lies below the low income threshold (2024: 518.44 Euro), then the marginal worker or marginal employee group of employees shall apply.
- If the employment lasts longer than one month, the employer shall make payments to the company pension plan (pension contributions).
Every employed person (fully and partially insured) shall be registered by the employer before starting work with the appropriate health insurance provider. If an on-site registration has been submitted, then an electronic registration shall be completed within seven days of the start date of the compulsory insurance. A deregistration shall be submitted within seven days of the compulsory insurance lapsing.
Volunteers are people who work in a business with the sole purpose of enhancing and applying their (mostly) theoretical knowledge, without an obligation to work and without remuneration (e.g. pocket money). If remuneration is given, then an employment relationship exists.
The following are typical of voluntary service, for example:
- No commitment to a specific activity
- The apprenticeship predominantly benefits the volunteer.
These are people who, thanks to their educational background or completed training, are already theoretically competent in performing the respective role but want to expand their acquired knowledge in practice. This category of persons shall only be partially covered by accident insurance. Real volunteers, in line with the explanations above, shall register directly with the Austrian Workers’ Compensation Board (Allgemeine Unfallversicherungsanstalt – AUVA) for insurance.
Persons who have already completed a course of (vocational) higher education study often enter the professional world in the form of work placements. Examples include work placements for trainee lawyers and teachers.
These work placements may often be traineeships that are not subject to the provisions of labour law, or agreements which, while described as “unpaid traineeship” or “work placement” must in actuality be qualified as employment relationships as there are no learning and training goals. Employment relationships are subject to labour law requirements governing legal contracts and collective bargaining agreements.
Work placement trainees with a (vocational) higher education must in any case be registered for social insurance with the responsible health insurance carrier.
If the relationship is an employment relationship, registration for social insurance as an employee is required. If earnings are over the marginal employment threshold, the employee must have full insurance; if the earnings are below the marginal employment threshold, they must have accident insurance only.
Work placement trainees with a higher education who are completing legally required work placements for future professional practice (such as trainee lawyers or trainee teachers) must always have full insurance in accordance with the Allgemeines Sozialversicherungsgesetz, even if their earnings are below the marginal employment threshold.
In general, these rules apply to all EU Citizens in Austria.
- Template for a work placement employment contract (→ AK)German text
- General Accident Insurance Institution (→ AUVA)German text
- Pupils and Students (→ AUVA)German text
- Practice guidelines for work placement trainees (→ ÖGK)German text
- Work for children and young people (→ Work Inspectorate)German text
- Brochure: “Beschäftigung von Kindern und Jugendlichen” (→ Work Inspectorate)German text
- Unpaid trainee (→ WKO)German text
- Association of Austrian Social Insurance Institutions
- Federal Ministry of Labour and Economy