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Unemployment benefits in Austria: Who is eligible and how much can you get?

For many people, unemployment benefits are a lifeline after losing a job. But how does the system work in Austria and how much financial support can you receive?

Unemployment benefits in Austria: Who is eligible and how much can you get?
How do you apply for unemployment benefits in Austria - and how much do you get? Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

In Austria, unemployment benefit is called Arbeitslosengeld (literally ‘unemployment money’) and is available for people who lose their job or enter a period of unemployment.

It is for people that are registered as unemployed with the Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS) and who are ready to work at least 20 hours per week once a job has been found.

Then there is an additional benefit called Notstandshilfe, which is essentially a form of emergency financial assistance in case unemployment benefits run out.

However, certain conditions have to be met, such as being able and willing to work, already registered as unemployed with the AMS and being ready to be placed on the job market. 

To be eligible for Notstandshilfe, an application must be submitted no later than five years after unemployment benefits have ended.

Some people may also be eligible for a family allowance, depending on their situation.

Who is eligible for unemployment benefits?

To be eligible for unemployment benefits in Austria, you must have been in employment for 52 weeks out of the past two years.

For people applying for unemployment benefits for the second time or more, a record of being in employment for 28 weeks in the past year is enough to become eligible.

Similarly, for people aged 25 and under, 26 weeks of work in the past year is sufficient.

Self-employed people are entitled to unemployment benefits but only under certain conditions and the AMS doesn’t provide examples. Instead, people are urged to contact the AMS with any questions.

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However, self-employed people can take out voluntary unemployment insurance through the organisation of social insurance for self-employed people (Sozialversicherung der Selbständigen), known as SVS.

Voluntary unemployment insurance is an additional financial contribution on top of the standard health and social insurance payments that are compulsory for self-employed people.

How much money can be claimed in unemployment benefits?

In Austria, the amount of unemployment benefits that a person can receive depends on whether they are eligible just for the basic amount or for the additional allowances as well.

In fact, the AMS even has a note on its website that states the basic amount can be difficult to calculate.

To simplify it though, in most cases the benefit is determined by the amount of monthly social insurance contributions made by an individual. 

In certain cases, a supplement might be added if the basic amount is lower than the compensation allowance target. This is currently set at €1,110.26 per month.

There is also a maximum limit, which means unemployment benefits can’t exceed 60 percent of your net income (for people not entitled to family allowances).

Who is eligible for a family allowance?

The family allowance is paid on top of the standard unemployment benefits and is typically for people with children that are considered dependents, including step-children, foster children and grandchildren.

The family allowance might also be paid if the claimant has a spouse or partner with little or no income.

How to claim unemployment benefits in Austria

The first step to claiming unemployment benefits in Austria is to register as unemployed with the AMS. Then you can submit an application to make a claim.

Applications should be submitted via an eAMS account, which is an online portal of the AMS. Registration for an eAMS account can be found here.

READ ALSO: How to find a job in winter sports in Austria

For anyone unsure about this process, the AMS can be contacted by phone or email. The AMS team will then send out an application form for unemployment benefits by post.

Useful websites

Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS)

Social Insurance for Self-Employed People (SVS)

Useful vocabulary

Arbeitslosengeld – unemployment benefits

Notstandshilfe – emergency assistance (financial)

Sozialversicherung – social insurance

Familienzuschlag – family allowance

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WORKING IN AUSTRIA

What are the 13th and 14th wage packets that Austrians receive?

If you are working in Austria, you can expect to get paid 14 times a year - so what are these 'extra' payments, and how do they work?

What are the 13th and 14th wage packets that Austrians receive?

If you are a salaried employee in Austria, you’ll be happy to know that you are likely entitled to 14 payments a year, rather than the standard 12.

You get a monthly salary of course, but there are also two ‘extras’ – one of the extra ones comes just before the summer holidays, while the other is paid ahead of the Christmas holidays.

These are the aptly named “Christmas and holiday bonuses” or sometimes the “13th and 14th salary”.

The entitlement, amount and due date of special payments are regulated in the respective collective agreement or individual employment contract, but their existence is widespread among salaried workers in the Alpine land – even those who work part-time or have ‘mini-jobs’.

READ ALSO: Six things you need to know about salaries in Austria

How much do I get?

The special payment amount depends on the collective agreement that applies to you. Usually, the holiday or Christmas bonus amounts to one month’s salary. However, there are also sectors in which less is paid. 

Regular overtime and bonuses only have to be included in the holiday or Christmas bonus if this is stated or agreed in the collective agreement.

No holiday or Christmas pay is due for parental leave, military or civilian service periods.

Holiday and Christmas payments are also taxed more favourably to the employee’s benefit, so the net amount is higher than a regular monthly wage.

Although it’s generally a good deal, your boss will of course be aware of the requirement for a 13th and 14th month when they calculate what salary to offer you as you start a new job.

When are the payments made?

When the special payments are to be paid (due date) depends on the respective collective agreement. Christmas bonuses are usually due in November or December, while holiday pay is typically due in June or July.

Holiday pay often has to be paid out in accordance with the collective agreement when employees have used up at least half of their holiday – in these cases, it may be due in January or December.

READ ALSO:  Can I take my kids out of their Austrian school during term time for a holiday?

What if I have been recently employed?

If you have been working for a whole year in a company, you are entitled to the total amount of these special payments. However, if you have recently started working there, the fee is still due but proportional to how long you have worked there.

Collective agreements for workers often stipulate that they do not receive holiday/Christmas pay after justified dismissal or unauthorised early resignation. The employer may even be able to reclaim or offset holiday/Christmas pay that has already been paid out. In the case of other types of solutions (e.g. employee dismissal), employees are generally entitled to the pro rata (= aliquot) holiday/Christmas pay.

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