A recent amendment to Austrian labour and social law has introduced the so-called educational part-time (Bildungsteilzeit) in order to provide employees with the possibility of pursuing further education alongside a part-time employment. The respective provisions are far more flexible than the already existing provisions on educational leave (Bildungskarenz).

The Amendment is part of the Act to Amend Social Laws 2013 (Sozialrechts-Änderungsgesetz 2013), which implements the Educational Package 2013 (Bildungspaket 2013) dealing with various issues, in particular with regard to providing the labour force with access to further qualifications.

The new provisions effective from 1 July 2013 are provided for in Subsection 11(a) of the Act on the Adjustment of Labour Law (Arbeitsvertragsrechts-Anpassungsgesetz - AVRAG) and in particular in Subsection 26(a) of the Unemployment Insurance Act (Arbeitslosenversicherungsgesetz - AlVG) following the provisions on educational leave.

Legal requirements

Similar to the approach taken towards educational leave, the employer and the employee must meet several conditions in order to agree on educational part-time, including the following:

  • The employee has to have been employed with the company for a minimum of six months prior to the start date of educational part-time.
  • The status of educational part-time employment requires a mutual agreement between the employer and the employee. The employee has no legal entitlement to educational part-time.
  • The agreement requires a written form. The most important provisions of the agreement include the start date, the period, the extent and the allocation of the educational part-time.
  • The current regular weekly working hours (before educational part-time) must be reduced by a minimum of 25% and a maximum of 50% during educational part-time.
  • The employment must be continued on a basis of at least 10 hours per week during the educational part-time.
  • The educational part-time must have a minimum duration of four months and can have a maximum duration of two years. If the maximum duration of the educational part-time is consumed, a new agreement is possible only after a waiting period of four years.
  • The educational part-time may also be consumed in parts. In this case, each part has to last for at least four months and the sum of these parts must not exceed two years.
  • The scope of education (except in exceptional cases) must amount to a minimum of 10 hours per week.

Special payment for further education

If the legal requirements are met, the employee is entitled to receive a special payment for further education (Bildungsteilzeitgeld) by the Austrian Public Employment Service (Arbeitsmarktservice - AMS), provided that the application has been filed at the latest 4 weeks before the start date of the educational part-time. However, the following thresholds should also be noted:

Generally a maximum of

  • 4 employees in a company (Betrieb) with up to 50 employees, and
  • 8 % of the employees in a company with more than 50 employees

may work on an educational part-time basis at the same time. If, however, more employees shall be able to consume educational part-time, a majority decision by the AMS's Regional Advisory Council (Regionalbeirat) is required in order to be entitled to a special payment for further education.

For this reason, if employees are applying for a special payment for further education a statement from the employer (Betriebsinhaber) certifying both the total number of employees employed by him and the number of employees already consuming educational part-time is required.

Switch between educational leave and educational part-time

A one-time switch from educational leave to educational part-time and vice versa is possible, provided that the maximum length of educational leave or educational part-time has not been consumed.

In conclusion, before agreeing an educational part-time effective from 1 July 2013, employers should ensure that the legal requirements, especially with regard to the aforementioned thresholds, are fulfilled.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.