We have compiled some questions and answers about payroll and employment law for you.
I. Obligations of employers
Even in this crisis, employers have a duty of care towards their employees. The employer is therefore obliged to take appropriate protective measures immediately in order to protect his employees from infection in the best possible way. These include:
- Easy access to disinfectants for employees with customer contact
- Adoption of hygiene recommendations
- Rescheduling/cancellation of business trips and meetings that are not necessary
II. Duties of the employees
Employees are still obliged to perform their work - the risk of a possible infection does not entitle employees to stay away from work without excuse.
This does not apply to employees who have an objectively justifiable risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus at work, as employees do not have to accept a health risk.
For example, if there has already been a confirmed case of infection with the COVID-19 virus in the immediate work environment and the employer has not yet taken enough countermeasures.
III. Are my employees allowed to work at home?
This possibility exists for employers if the employment contract already provides for the service to be provided in the home office. Then the employer can order work at home.
In the absence of this agreement, the transfer of the place of work to the home office must be expressly agreed between the employee and the employer. Due to the current situation, to avoid the formation of groups, it can be assumed that the employees must agree.
Our experts will be pleased to support you in formulating an appropriate agreement!
IV. Can I also give notice of termination in connection with short-time work?
During the period of reduced working hours, the employer is obliged to maintain the employment status at the time of application. Notice of termination for operational reasons is only possible after the end of short-time work and the subsequent notice period.
Personal terminations are possible at any time, but the employer must then make a replacement recruitment in order to maintain the employment level.
Employees can terminate their employment themselves at any time - in this case and in the case of a termination by mutual consent, the substitute employment is not applicable.
According to the current status, the notice period for "Corona short-time working" is 1 month.
V. Compensation under the Epidemic Law
If the company is closed in accordance with Section 20 of the Epidemics Act, there is a claim to compensation for the resulting financial disadvantage (loss of earnings) in accordance with Section 32 (1) no. 5 of the Epidemics Act. If objects have been destroyed or damaged by official disinfection, the entrepreneur is also entitled to compensation.
The claim for compensation must be asserted within six weeks (§ 32 Epidemic Law) from the day the official measures were lifted at the district administrative authority in whose area these measures were taken, otherwise the claim expires. In Vienna, the processing of the compensation is carried out by the Department of Health Law of the MA 40.
Please note: the measures currently being taken by the Federal Government to temporarily close certain businesses (e.g. non-food trade) do not, as far as can be seen at the time of writing, trigger any such claims against the Federal Government.
VI. Special regulations for Vienna
In Vienna, the Vienna Employee Promotion Fund will be increased by € 3 million and offers Viennese employers various support options: from the establishment of a work foundation in the event of staff reductions to the qualification of employees in the context of further training-leave or part-time work.
VII. Deferral or instalment payment of social security contributions
The ÖGK is now looking to support the companies with some very important payment facilities in order to be able to cope with this emergency situation for the common interest of the Austrian economy.
Here are the current legal measures at a glance (National Council resolution of 20.03.2020):
The ÖGK will support companies with accomodations for payments:
- Deferrals for the contribution periods February, March and April 2020: For companies affected by the "Closure Ordinance" or a ban on entry under the Epidemic Law, contributions are automatically deferred. Other companies with corona-related liquidity problems can apply for deferral of contributions to the ÖGK. The informal application must include the corona-related problems and must be addressed to the respective regional service centre. For the duration of the deferral, no interest on arrears will be charged.
- Suspension of recovery measures in the months of March, April and May 2020: In these months there are generally no recovery measures such as execution requests etc.
- No insolvency applications will be filed.
- No default surcharges are prescribed for late notifications of contribution bases due to corona.
- Direct debits must be revoked by email or by phone at ÖGK - we will be happy to support you in this process and will provide the temporary revocation
- Direct debits that have already been made cannot be retransferred!
The ÖGK will make the submission of applications and accounting as unbureaucratic as possible. We will inform you about any changes. In this context, it is important to note that companies will not be disadvantaged if the relevant applications are not submitted immediately.
ATTENTION - Please note:
- The basic rules of payroll accounting remain in place.
- The legal due date of the contributions remains unchanged.
- Applications for compulsory insurance must still be submitted in due time before the start of work.
- The monthly basic contribution notifications must be sent to ÖGK on the usual dates.
ÖGK requests the companies to maintain their previous excellent reporting and payment morale as far as possible even in these exceptional times and thus continue to enable the functioning of the welfare state.
Employers can contact ÖGK's Employer Service Centre if they have any questions or need clarification.
Tax office - Accomodation of payments
The payment of a levy can be postponed (deferral) or payment in instalments can be agreed - this also includes wage tax and all non-wage labour costs. Please contact your personal advisor to apply for the accomodation of payments.