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Austria: Industrial relations

Original and updating author: Silva Palzer, Eversheds Austria
Updating authors: Klaus Cavar and Lena-Sophie Kaltenegger, Eversheds Austria

Contributing editor: Martin Risak

Summary

  • The interests of employers and employees are represented by two types of organisation. Alongside voluntary-membership trade unions and employers' associations, there are also statutory "chambers" that both employers and employees are obliged to join. (See General)
  • While trade unions represent employees in collective bargaining, which primarily occurs at sector level, they play only a limited role and have few statutory entitlements at the level of the individual employer. (See Trade unions)
  • Collective agreements may be concluded only by organisations permitted to do so by law, again generally at sector level. Other than this, the collective bargaining process is subject to little statutory regulation. (See Collective bargaining and agreements)
  • A works council, with various information, consultation and further-reaching participation rights, must be elected to represent employees' interests in all establishments employing at least five employees. (See Works councils)
  • Works agreements between individual employers and works councils regulate many establishment-level issues. (See Works agreements)
  • Works councils have various information and consultation rights, including over personnel/staffing matters, economic issues and major business changes. (See Informing and consulting employees - general)
  • In the event of planned collective redundancies, the employer must inform and consult the works council, which, in establishments with 20 or more employees, may demand a works agreement on measures to prevent or mitigate the redundancies. (See Informing and consulting prior to redundancies)
  • In the event of a planned business transfer, the transferor must inform and, on request, consult the works council. (See Informing and consulting prior to transfers)
  • "Community-scale" undertakings or groups of undertakings with headquarters in Austria must, at the request of employees or their representatives, establish a special negotiating body to negotiate over the establishment of a European Works Council. (See European Works Councils)
  • Strikes (which are very rare in practice) are not governed by specific legislation, and there is little case law on the issue, so many of the legal aspects of strikes are unclear. (See Industrial action)
  • In certain types of company, the works council is entitled to appoint one-third of the members of the company's supervisory board. (See Board-level employee representation)