Article:

Changes for employers in the melding of heavy labor

01 July 2021

Thomas Neumann, Director |
Claudia Sonnleitner, Senior Manager |

The Pension Insurance Institution has redesigned the questionnaire to be completed by employers to determine periods of heavy work. We have summarized the most important changes for you:

 

Heavy work

Heavy work is defined as activities that are performed under particularly physically or mentally stressful conditions. Which activities are considered heavy labor is defined by regulation. Accordingly, all activities that are performed as follows are considered heavy labor:

  • In shift or alternating work also during the night (irregular night work) or
  • regularly under heat (e.g. or cold in the sense of the Night Heavy Work Act (NSchG) or
  • under chemical or physical influences within the meaning of the NSchG, if this has caused a reduction in earning capacity of at least 10%, or
  • heavy physical labor, meaning at least 8,374 work kilojoules (2,000 work kilocalories) are expended by men or at least 5,862 work kilojoules (1,400 work kilocalories) are expended by women during an eight-hour work period, or
  • for the occupational care of sick or disabled persons with special treatment or care needs (such as in hospice or palliative care) or
  • despite a reduction in earning capacity of at least 80% within the meaning of the Disability Employment Act, provided that for the period after 30.6.1993 there was at least entitlement to care allowance level 3.

 

Reporting obligation of the employer

Unlike heavy work at night as defined by the NSchG, heavy work as defined by the Heavy Work Ordinance does not result in any additional financial burden for the employer. However, since the existence of heavy work may have consequences under pension law, employers are obliged to report heavy work periods to the health insurance institution.

However, only male employees who have already reached the age of 40 and female employees who have already reached the age of 35 are required to report periods of heavy work.

The notification of heavy labor is made annually in retrospect via ELDA and must be submitted by the end of February of the following calendar year. The report must contain the following data:

  • All of the above activities that indicate the presence of heavy labor
  • Names and insurance numbers of those who perform such activities
  • Duration of activities

 

Exceptions to the reporting requirement

For insurance periods in which there is no compulsory pension insurance (e.g. marginally employed persons), no heavy labor report must be submitted.

In the case of activities involving chemical or physical influences, the employer is likewise not required to report the activity because the accident insurance institution can only determine the existence of a reduction in earning capacity (of at least 10%) as a result of this activity after the fact.

The obligation to report is also waived in the event of a reduction in earning capacity within the meaning of the Disabled Persons Employment Act, as long as the employer does not have any information on the employee's entitlement to care allowance. However, if the employer is aware of the care allowance classification (in at least level 3), a heavy work notification must be submitted.

In order to prevent possible claims for damages by employees at a later date, it is recommended to report this in case of doubt. The pension insurance institution will only finally determine whether heavy work is actually involved when a pension application is submitted or when an application is made for the determination of heavy work periods. Since in the course of these procedures requests for information may be addressed to the (former) employer, it is recommended that these documents be kept.

 

New PVA questionnaires

The questionnaires for determining periods of arduous work to be used by insured persons and employers in the administrative procedure to be carried out by the PVA have been redesigned. The employer is now no longer asked the legal question of whether heavy work as defined by the Heavy Work Ordinance was performed, but is asked questions about the facts of the case. More precise and easily understandable questions are intended to increase the quality of the feedback and thus also the quality of the decisions.

The questionnaire now focuses on the most common forms of heavy work, irregular night work as well as heavy physical work. Those forms of heavy labor that only affect certain industries (e.g. steel production as a heat workplace or deep-freeze logistics as a cold workplace) are now asked in the appendix and are only to be completed by employers in these industries. The supplement to the questionnaire for employers also contains a case study to help employers complete the questionnaire (warehouse workers in the glass industry). In addition, it was necessary to revise the questionnaire due to legal changes and changes in case law.

The new questionnaires are already in use and will be sent out by the PVA to the employers and insured persons concerned when the occasion arises (as part of a determination or pension procedure).