Work-life balance

Austrain business culture guideThe family forms the basis of the Austrian social structure. Families are generally small and, due to a lack of migration, closely knit within a certain town or village. Weekends are generally devoted to family activities and Sundays are usually marked for visiting grandparents for dinner, and/or, enjoying a hike in the country together. Eating dinner together in the evening is very much the norm in Austrian families. Therefore, a key issue for Austrians is flexible working time. However, to achieve a balance between work, leisure time and family commitments, everyone needs to be clear about their priorities and what they want.

In Austria, some companies like IBM for example offer activities in the workplace such as yoga or massage in order for employees to find their inner balance and be relaxed at work (, 6/2007). Furthermore, the government supports maternity/paternity leave or reducing your working hours in order to fit in with family commitments.

For further information, please see below:

National holidays

Holidays Date
New Year’s Day January 1
Epiphany January 6
Easter Sunday March / April
Easter Monday March / April
Labour Day May 1
Ascension May
Whit Sunday (Pentecost) May
Whit Monday May
Corpus Christi May / June
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary August 15
Austrian National Day October 26
All Saints Day November 1
Immaculate Conception December 8
Christmas Day December 25
Boxing Day December 26

Working hours

Business Working week

Monday – Friday Saturday – Sunday
Office 08.00 a.m. to 17.00 p.m. – with one hour for lunch (Monday to Thursday) and 08.00 a.m. to 15.00 p.m. (Friday) Closed
Retail 08.00 a.m. to 19.00. p.m. (and in some cases to 21.00) Closed on Sunday (with the exception of shops at railway stations, airports and tourist centres).
Banks 08.00 a.m. to 12.30pm and 13.30 p.m. to 15.00 p.m. (on Thursday until 17.00 p.m.) Closed
Government offices 8.00 a.m. to 12.00 p.m. (Monday to Friday). Closed

Some supermarkets in Austria are open beyond the hours indicated above. Food may be purchased on Sundays in shops, gas and railway stations.

Working culture

Austrians are proud of their contribution to world civilisation. They see themselves as modern, liberal and cultured, and working practices are formal and professional. The following outlines the work practices that you should be familiar with before investing in Austria:

  • Austrian business culture has a well-defined and strictly observed hierarchy, with clear responsibilities and distinctions between roles and departments.
  • Professional rank and status in Austria is generally based on an individual’s achievement and expertise in a given field. Academic titles and backgrounds are important, conveying an individual’s expertise and thorough knowledge of their particular area of work.
  • Another important aspect is Austria’s work ethic. Employees define themselves as part of the corporation they are working for and quickly identify themselves with your product and/ or services. Thus, you can expect to be in the best hands when starting a business in Austria.
  • Organisation is logical, methodical and compartmentalized with procedures and routines done “by the book”.
  • Contacts are extremely helpful in creating business success in Austria.
  • The rate of women working outside the home in Austria is one of the highest in the industrialised world.
  • Lunch is the most common setting for business discussions for women who should stick to inviting male colleagues to lunch until they get to know them on a more personal level.
  • The business community is very political. Everyone is careful about what they say to or about anyone else.
  • Business is conducted at a slow pace. Be patient.
  • In more traditional companies, it is still common that everything is run by committees, things are discussed in great length and risk taking is not as common as in other countries.
  • There is one philosophy that goes for almost anybody in Austrian business: if someone says he is going to do something, he will do so. The same is expected of others as well. Never make a promise that you cannot keep or offer something you cannot deliver. Austrians dislike and do not trust unreliable people.
  • Federal regulations limit the working week to a maximum of 48 hours, but collective bargaining agreements may supersede these. Contracts that directly or indirectly affect 80 per cent of the working population regulate the number of hours of work per week.
  • The average working week is around 40 hours nation-wide; rest periods for lunch are as given by law. Provisions for overtime, holiday, and weekend pay vary depending upon the applicable collective bargaining agreement.
  • An extensive set of laws and regulations govern occupational health and safety. A comprehensive system of worker insurance enforces safety requirements in the workplace.
  • There are also extensive laws regulating wages, severance pay and sick pay.

It is important that these issues are examined and understood before setting up a company and employing a workforce in Austria. These issues differ all over Europe but legal guidelines are set by the European Commission.

Health insurance

Austria’s health care system is well developed, with 99% of its people being protected by health insurance plans. These are funded by workers, employers, and the federal, provincial, and local governments. Everyone covered by health insurance is entitled to free outpatient and inpatient treatment. Physicians contract with health insurance agencies but are free to maintain private practices, and patients are free to go to the doctor of their choice.

For further information, please see below:

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