Driven by the desire to bolster the economy and create jobs, Austrian political leaders are taking additional steps to improve the nation's business environment. The first round of regulatory reforms involves flexible work schedules and longer retail operating hours, as well as a relaxation of rules governing trade licensing. With regard to regulatory issues in the various fields of biotechnology Austria has gained greatly in reputation and professionalism.

Here Are The Initial Reforms At A Glance:


Regulation of flexible work schedules is based on the governing collective bargaining agreement, but individual businesses and their workers councils can set their own rules at the company level. The calculation period for averaging work hours can stretch to up to a year (in exceptional cases, more). Within this time period, hours must average out to the agreed upon regular work week.

The pace-setters in capitalizing on the new regulations were the metal production trade group which established the following flexi-time model in its collective bargaining agreement:

  • a maximum of 9 hours a day, 10 hours for a four-day week
  • 32-45 hours a week
  • overtime charges: 25 percent for hours 41-45 (that is 15 minutes per additional hour)
  • 52-week calculation period to average out to the regular workweek of 38.5 hours (unchanged)
  • maximum of 80 compensatory hours a month
  • set monthly wages


The Austrian federal government has agreed to make approval of Sunday work schedules quicker and easier to achieve. Only two restrictions remain on such approvals: a showing of critical business reasons for the Sunday work and clearance by the Social Partners.


Effective January 1997, retail stores can remain open 66 hours a week, with hours extended to 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Stores can also remain open every Saturday until 5 p.m. Previously, stores could only operate 60 hours, with only one late Saturday a month.


A new ordinance for trade licensing takes effect July 1, 1997, with the following changes and new provisions:

The number of regulated trades will be reduced from 153 to 83. Tradespeople can practice related trades; for example, plumbers and electricians can offer repairs. A ministerial ruling at a later date will determine which trades can be practiced without the reaching "master" level.

There will be 21 associated trades, under which similar trades will be grouped together. Licensed tradespeople will have the right to offer services in associated trades; for example, a painter will be able to offer lacquering and gilding.


Technical operations, chemical laboratories, manufacturing and wholesaling of drugs and poisons, realty.


Production of cosmetic items, shipping, employment agencies, management consulting, insurance agencies.

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