5.1.6 Labour laws
Alongside the growing rate of unemployment, the structure of employment has changed considerably in recent years. For example, the number of people working under a freier Dienstvertrag (self-employed contract of service) has risen by more than 150% since 1997; in 2012 the figure was approximately 20 000 people. It is similar for people working under a Werkvertrag (contract for work) – or "new" self-employed: here the number almost quadrupled between 1998 and 2002, from 7 700 people to 30 300; at the end of 2008, there were 44 000. Generally, all freelancers fall outside the system providing entitlements and protective measures envisaged by the general Austrian Labour Law. Since January 2008, however, freier Dienstnehmer have had unemployment insurance. In the field of the performing arts, there is a specific labour law, the Actors' Law (Schauspielergesetz, 1922, amended 2011) regulating the working hours, holiday rights and bonuses for actors, which are different from the employee regulations. Formerly, actors were assumed to be employees but full employment with all the costs and obligations for employers (e.g. festival-organisers) is now often circumvented. New legal conditions to improve their situation is being created for actors, too – in the course of findings and working results from the study "On the social situation of artists in Austria" and the study "Precarious freedoms: work in the free theatre field in Austria", ed. Sabine Kock, Vienna 2009. The intermedia working group which, since 2009 at the initiative of the arts and culture minister, has been working on improvements for artists, has most recently brought the "Actors' Act", last amended in 1922, up to date. Since January 2011, as the "Theatre Employment Act" (Bü-ARG), it covers all workers in a theatre company together and envisages adaptation to the Holiday and Working Hours Law. It has been criticised that the law only brings meaningful improvements for actors who are directly employed in the major theatres. As before, for short-term, changeable employment between direct employment and self-employment with intervals of unemployment or without income in the freelance theatre field, no legal security can be created. The fact that the new Law does not include film actors is also criticised, as it does not correspond to actors' professional reality.
See also comparative information provided in the Compendium "Themes!" section under "Status of Artists".