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Austria/ 5.1 General legislation  

5.1.6 Labour laws

Alongside the growing rate of unemployment, the structure of employment has changed considerably in recent years. Compared to 2008, when the financial crisis affected the labour market, standard employment relationships have decreased by 61.000 (-2.4%) in 2013; on the other hand there was an increase of atypical employment: in particular part time work (+ 17%) and marginal employment (+ 12.5%) show large increases. The number of freieDienstverträge (freelance contract of service) has decreased since 2008 from more than 60 000 to only 37 000 in 2013 (1% of all employees).

In 2013, 466 000 were self-employed persons or 11.3% of the total of 4.1 million employees in Austria. Generally, all freelancers fall outside the system providing entitlements and protective measures envisaged by the general Austrian Labour Law. Since January 2008, however, freieDienstnehmerare entitled tounemployment 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 interministerial working group, which since 2009 has been working on improvements for artists, has 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".

Chapter published: 02-02-2016

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