Important changes in employment and social security law

Shortly before Christmas, a number of important legal changes will be passed in parliament. The following presentation provides an overview of the current situation; it remains to be seen how the legislation will actually be passed:


Extension of short-time work

Due to the ongoing covid 19 pandemic and new company entry bans, the existing short-time work regulation for particularly affected companies (§ 37b para. 9 AMSG) is to be extended until the end of March 2022. We have already provided detailed information on this in recent weeks (most recently on People Thursdays Article from 2.12.2021).


Long-term short-time work bonus

Employees who have been on short-time work for at least 10 months from 1 March 2020 to 31 October 2021 and who have also been on short-time work for at least one day in November 2021 (according to the explanatory notes of the legislator) and who have a gross wage of no more than EUR 2,775 in November 2021 will receive a one-off bonus of EUR 500 in April 2022 to cover the special needs resulting from the pandemic-related income losses. This bonus is to be processed by the Federal Accounting Agency, which will receive the necessary data from the AMS.


Seasonal start-up aid

In order to support seasonal businesses in overcoming the Covid 19 pandemic and to prevent workers employed during the season from moving to other sectors, a so-called seasonal start-up aid is to be introduced for seasonal businesses that were affected by an official ban on entry. The aid is to be granted to persons who entered between 3 November and 17 December. It amounts to a maximum of 65% of the wage costs incurred in the period between the ban and the earliest possible entry into short-time work. According to the explanations of the legislator, however, there is no legal entitlement to the aid.


Deferral  of contributions

Due to the renewed lockdown in November and December 2021, the pandemic-related deferral options for social security contributions (§ 733 ASVG) are to be adjusted to the effect that contributions for the contribution periods November and December 2021 will also be deferred for the employer until 31 January 2022, provided that it can be credibly shown that this payment of contributions is not possible for pandemic reasons due to the liquidity of the company.


Special care time phase 6

The current special care period phase 5 ends on 31.12.2021. In view of the ongoing pandemic situation, the existing options for claiming (in the event of a legal entitlement) and agreeing on the special care period (§ 18b AVRAG) are to be extended. The special care period of phase 6 shall be available for a maximum of three weeks in the period between 1 January 2022 and 31 March 2022.

A legal claim therefore continues to exist for/on

  • Obligation to provide care for children up to 14 years of age at facilities (schools, kindergartens) that are partially or completely closed due to official measures, provided that care is necessary. This means that a legal claim only exists if no other caregiver is available and the school or kindergarten does not offer care! (Since this is rarely the case, the agreement model will usually be used more often).
  • Obligation to care for children up to 14 years of age in the event of official segregation
  • Obligation to provide care for persons with disabilities in the case of institutions partially or completely closed due to official measures and care at home due to voluntary measures
  • Care for relatives in need of care in the event of the absence of the caregiver
  • Care for relatives with disabilities in the event of the loss of personal assistance


The prerequisite for the claim is that the employee notifies the employer immediately after becoming aware of the closure, segregation or absence of the caregiver or personal assistant and does everything reasonable to ensure that the agreed work performance takes place. Exhaustion of other existing claims under labour law for time off for care is not necessary for the legal claim to special care time.

If there is no entitlement to special childcare time because, for example, the school or childcare facility offers childcare despite being "closed" (and therefore there is no necessary childcare), an agreement on special care time can be made. This requires that

  • the work of the employee is not necessary for the maintenance of the enterprise, and
  • the person concerned is also not entitled to time off work for care.

It will also be possible to agree the special care time if compulsory attendance is suspended during a lockdown; this is to come into force retroactively from 22.11.2021.

In both models, employers continue to be reimbursed 100% of the remuneration paid, including special payments (capped at the maximum contribution basis). Employer's contributions and non-wage labour costs (employer's contribution, surcharge on employer's contribution and municipal tax), etc., however, are not reimbursed. The claim must be filed with the Federal Accounting Agency within six weeks after the end of the special care period.

If the overall epidemiological situation so requires, the period may be extended by regulation until the beginning of the summer holidays at the latest (8.7.2022).


Special exemption for pregnant women

In view of the high incidence rates, the special exemption for unvaccinated pregnant women who perform work involving necessary physical contact is to be extended again - until 31 March 2022 - due to the increased risk of a severe course of the disease (§ 3a MSchG). This will also apply to vaccinated pregnant women who perform work with necessary physical contact, but who no longer have full vaccination protection.


Risk exemption

The entitlement to leave from work with continued payment for high-risk patients pursuant to Section 735 ASVG has been extended (for the time being) until 31 March 2022. This legal basis, which has already entered into force, also provides for the period to be extended by regulation until the end of June 2022 if this is necessary due to the overall epidemiological situation.

As of 15.12.2021, a Covid 19 risk certificate may only be issued to individuals,

  1. who, despite having been vaccinated at least three times, either have medical reasons to believe that Covid-19 is a serious disease, or
  2. who cannot (yet) be vaccinated for medical reasons.

As of this date, only persons with a Covid 19 risk certificate issued after 2.12.2021 (on the basis of the new legal situation) may be exempted. Covid 19 risk certificates issued before 3.12.2021 are no longer valid from 15.12.2021!

The employer can now also demand that the Covid 19 risk certificate issued by the attending physician is confirmed by an official medical certificate or by the chief and control medical service of the social insurance agency . If an employee does not comply with this request within two weeks, the entitlement to risk exemption ends.



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