Austria: Corona - Purposeful protection instead of complete isolation

The most important regulations for employment relationships as of 1 August 2022

In brief

New Covid-19 regulations effective 1 August 2022: What do employers need to consider?

New regulations concerning COVID-19 will apply in Austria as of 1 August 2022. In particular, as of this date, employees will no longer need to isolate if they are infected with COVID-19 in the case of an infection with COVID-19. Instead, a 10-day traffic restriction must be observed. This means that individuals with a positive COVID-19 test result must wear an FFP2 mask at all times when they are in contact with others. From the fifth day of testing, there is the possibility of "to not be obligated to obey the 10-day traffic restriction" ("Freitestung").


The most important new aspects of employment relationships are as follows:

  • Employees who are not incapacitated for work must come to work even if they have COVID-19. Whether a COVID-19 infected employee is incapacitated for work is determined by an authorized doctor by issuing a sick note to the incapacitated employee.
  • Employees who come to work despite a COVID-19 infection must wear an FFP2 mask at all times if physical contact with other individuals cannot be excluded. If physical contact with other individuals is excluded (e.g., in a single office) and the FFP2 mask is therefore not worn all the time, any risk of infection for other employees must be minimized by appropriate protective measures, such as airing the rooms on a regular basis.
  • The obligation to wear an FFP2 mask at all times also applies outdoors if a distance of two meters from other individuals cannot be maintained.
  • An exception to the obligation to come to work despite a COVID-19 infection applies (i) to employees who are unable to comply with the obligation to wear a mask at all times in the workplace and on the way to work for medical reasons, particularly in the case of pregnancy, and (ii) if working becomes impossible due to wearing a mask at all times. Unless other organizational or spatial protective measures can be taken in those cases (e.g., working in a single office), employees may not come to work.
  • Due to the employer's duty of care, employers must ensure that those employees who come to work despite a COVID-19 infection do not pose a risk to other employees. Therefore, companies should:
    • Inform employees whose workplace is near the workplace of a COVID-19 infected employee about the COVID-19 infection of the employee.
    • Designate specific rooms for breaks (e.g., mask break, lunch break, drink break) to employees with COVID-19 and ensure that these rooms are cleaned and aired on a regular basis.
    • Separate COVID-19 infected individuals as far as possible.
    • Regularly monitor whether the employees wear an FFP2 mask at all times.
  • If the employer does not want COVID-19 infected individuals to access the workplace, it is still possible to agree with the employee on home office work. Alternatively, the employer may release the employee from the duty to work with full remuneration.
  • Employees who are unable to work due to an illness caused by a COVID-19 infection must report their incapacity to work to the employer and do not have to perform any work for the duration of the incapacity.
  • As of 1 August 2022, employees who are at high risk of a severe COVID-19 infection (and thus belong to a "risk group" — ("Risikogruppe")) will again be entitled to paid time off from work if they present a COVID-19 risk certificate and if appropriate protective measures cannot be ensured or working from home is not possible. This regulation is currently effective until 31 October 2022.
  • Face-to-face meetings are still possible. In the case of face-to-face meetings with more than 500 individuals, employers must appoint a COVID-19 representative and develop and implement a COVID-19 prevention plan. This does not apply to meetings necessary for maintaining professional activities. This regulation provides for legal uncertainty. Therefore, virtual meetings are still recommended for more than 500 individuals. Meetings of the workforce in accordance with the Labor Constitution Act are also exempt.

Conclusion

Due to the new regulations, employees must come to work despite a COVID-19 infection if they are able to work. They must always wear an FFP2 mask unless physical contact with other individuals is excluded. Due to the employer's duty of care, employers must ensure that employees who come to work despite a COVID-19 infection do not pose a risk to other employees. If appropriate protective measures cannot be provided for those who are in contact with the COVID-19 infected employee, employers are recommended to allow the COVID-19 infected employee to work from home or release them from their duty to work with full remuneration.

Contact us

Should you have questions about the new COVID-19 regulations or need more information, feel free to reach out to our team of experts at any time.

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