Austria: Off on holiday! What are the legal requirements?

In brief

The summer holiday season has begun. While many employees are looking forward to a well-deserved break, companies often ask themselves how best to manage staff capacity during the holiday period. In Austria, there are relatively strict holiday rules for both employers and employees.

Here are some "highlights" that are particularly relevant for companies during the summer months:


1. Can employees be "called back" from holiday?

Yes, but only in absolutely exceptional cases. These cases apply when the company is in a particularly difficult situation and a specific employee is urgently needed to prevent serious disadvantages. For example, this could be the case if an IT specialist is needed to resolve a technical emergency.

2. Can employees unilaterally extend their leave?

No. This is because leave is always a matter of agreement, and the agreed end of leave cannot simply be changed unilaterally. A unilateral extension of a holiday by an employee (e.g., because they like the holiday location so much) can lead to dismissal without notice.

3. What happens if employees fall ill during their holidays?

Short-term illness has no consequences. Only if the illness lasts longer than three days does the duration of the illness not count as holidays. Therefore, the lost holiday time can be made up later. However, this only applies if (i) the employee notifies the employer of the illness immediately and (ii) the illness is not the employee's fault. Therefore, illness does not interrupt leave if, for example, employees travel to a region of the country where infection with a particular disease is particularly likely and then actually contract it.

4. May employees be "sent on holiday"?

No. It is tempting to "force" employees with very high holiday levels to use the summer months to reduce their holidays. High holiday levels are not advantageous for companies for balance sheet reasons alone. In Austria, however, the requirement that holiday periods must be agreed also applies here; unilateral interventions are generally not permitted.

5. What about "workation"?

"Workation" simply means that employees work at a holiday location. This work is to be paid as normal working time and can take place before or after the planned holiday period. It is important that "workation" is regulated by an express agreement between the company and the employee. For example, this should regulate the obligation to maintain confidentiality, the type of equipment to be used, a possible recall from the holiday location and the compensation of costs (e.g., roaming fees for work calls). In the case of "workation" abroad, certain precautions must also be taken to prevent negative consequences under social security or tax law (e.g., the obligation to pay social security contributions abroad).

6. Are emails, telephone conferences, etc., permitted during holidays?

Strictly speaking, no. From a purely legal point of view, holiday time should be used exclusively for recreation. Therefore, if employees write emails or take part in telephone conferences while on holiday, this interrupts their holiday. The lost holiday time must be made up later.


Employers and employees are almost on an equal footing when it comes to holiday law. However, the company can unilaterally intervene in emergencies. Prolonged sick leave and working during holidays interrupt holidays, and "workation" should be planned carefully.

Have a good holiday everyone!

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