Austria - Labor

In 2001, the labor force numbered 4.3 million workers. An estimated 67% of the workforce was engaged in service, 29% in industry, and agriculture 45%. Foreign laborers, mainly from the former Yugoslavia and Turkey, constitute a significant part of the total workforce. The unemployment rate has risen slightly in recent years, from 3.6% in 1994 to 4.8% in 2002.

Workers were organized into the 13 trade unions affiliated in the Austrian Trade Union Federation (Österreichische Gewerkschaftsbund—ÖGB). This confederation negotiates collective bargaining agreements with the Federal Economic Chamber (Bundeskammer der gewerblichen Wirtschaft) representing employers. In 2002, 52% of the workforce was unionized. The right to strike is recognized, however strikes are rarely used due to cooperation between labor and management. Collective bargaining is prevalent. Disputes over wages, working hours, working conditions, and vacations are settled by a labor court or an arbitration board.

The workweek is set at a maximum of 40 hours, although most Austrian workers put in 38–38.5 hours per week. A 50% differential is generally paid for overtime on weekdays, 100% on Sundays and holidays. There is no national minimum wage. Most employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements, which set wages by industry. The unofficial accepted minimum is $10,928 per year which provides a family with a decent standard of living. Every employee is entitled to a paid vacation of 30–36 workdays annually, depending on length of employment. The minimum legal age for employment is 15 years, and this is effectively enforced.

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