While there is no official minimum wage in Austria, this guide explains what to expect with salaries and remuneration laws in the country.
Despite the lack of minimum wage, workers in Austria are still protected. Over the last few years, a series of collective bargaining agreements have essentially enforced a base rate for salaries. As such, this functions as a minimum wage in Austria.
If you are looking to live and work in Austria, this handy guide explains what you need to know about labor laws, average salaries in Austria, and what to do if you face low payments or wage discrimination. It includes the following information:
- The minimum wage in Austria
- The minimum wage in Austria: exclusions and variations
- What to do if you’re not being paid the minimum wage in Austria
- The average salary in Austria
- The gender pay gap in Austria
- Salaries and wages for expats in Austria
- What to do if your salary is too low in Austria
- Useful resources
The minimum wage in Austria
Technically, there is no federal minimum wage in Austria. However, in January 2017, the Austrian government asked social partners to negotiate a minimum wage that would apply to all industries in the country. Because of this, there is now effectively a minimum wage in Austria of €1,500 a month.
This was the result of sectoral collective agreements that were created by the following four main social partner organizations:
- Austrian Trade Union Federation
- Chamber of Labor
- Federal Economic Chamber
- Austrian Chamber of Agriculture
The partners presented this minimum wage at a press conference on 30 June 2017. They also announced that the minimum wage would be implemented by sectoral collective agreements by 2020. Although the timelines for each industry differed, all had gradually implemented it by 2020.
Because the minimum wage in Austria is now set at €1,500 a month, it is now on par with other western European countries such as France and Germany. That said, it is far higher than the minimum wage in most parts of Europe. The minimum wage in Austria covers basic salary, overtime payments, bonuses, and idle-time compensation. For most white-collar workers, it is due on the last day of each month. However, for blue-collar workers, salaries are paid according to the applicable collective agreement.
The minimum wage in Austria: exclusions and variations
Of course, there are some exclusions to the minimum wage in Austria. For example, tax-free per-diems, housing, transportation, and meal costs don’t count towards the minimum wage.
In addition, certain work functions count towards minimum wage payments. As such, an employee attending business meetings, seminars, trade fairs, and conferences cannot claim extra benefits over minimum wage. Similarly, the minimum wage doesn’t apply to foreign employees who are temporarily hired out to Austria for up to two months.
What to do if you’re not being paid the minimum wage in Austria
Austria has stringent labor laws and a rigid and formal business culture. As such, if your salary doesn’t meet the appropriate minimum wage in Austria, you might have legal recourse, which you can take up with the courts. However, employers that don’t comply with the minimum wage in Austria face severe fines.
A company of more than three employees, for example, could be fined anything from €2,000 to €20,000 for a first offense or up to €50,000 for a repeat offense. Similarly, there are penalties for not keeping appropriate payment records and discrimination based on age, race, and gender.
In case of a pay dispute, informal alternative dispute resolutions are common in Austria. As such, there will be certain social partners that might be able to intervene on your behalf to settle a conflict out of court. There are different forms of this, including conciliation, mediation, and arbitration. In general, it is preferable to deal with complaints before going to a labor court or tribunal.
However, if you go to court, the competent court will usually be the Land Courts (Landesgerichte) in each province. However, if the conflict escalates, you might end up at the Higher Land Courts (Oberlandesgerichtes) or even the Supreme Court of Justice (Oberster Gerichtshof).
The average salary in Austria
The median salary in Austria is about €2,182 per month. However, the median income for full-time employees working all year round in 2020 was €40,415 for women and €46,292 for men. Normally, this includes the basic salary, bonuses, annual leave payments, and sick pay. Because of this, salaries are generally above the minimum wage in Austria. Again, this average monthly salary is on par with most of western Europe and Scandinavia and far above those in eastern Europe.
Average salary in Austria by sector
Of course, salaries can vary greatly depending on your sector. However, to give you an idea of average salaries in Austria, here are a few examples by industry:
- Agriculture – €2,041
- Banking – €2,983
- Construction – €2,215
- Education – €2,359
- Transport – €2,254
Similar to all other countries, salaries in Austria increase alongside your experience.
Average salary in Austria by region
Salaries in Austria can also differ greatly depending on where you live. Here are a few median gross yearly salaries by region in Austria (NB: these figures include short-term and part-time workers – annual wages for full-time workers are higher):
- Burgenland – €33,107
- Carinthia – €30,708
- Lower Austria – €33,327
- Upper Austria – €32,701
- Salzburg – €29,292
- Styria – €31,173
- Tirol – €28,649
- Vorarlberg – €31,945
- Vienna – €28,511
The gender pay gap in Austria
Although Austria is working hard to implement full equality throughout the country, there is still a gender pay gap across all industries. Statistics Austria reports that, in 2019, Austria’s median gross annual income in 2019 for full-time workers was €29,458. However, the mean yearly gross income for women was just €23,274 while for men, it was €37,016.
As women make up more of the part-time workforce, their average salaries were around 64% lower in 2019. However, this difference is lower in the public sector than in the private sector. Furthermore, when only full-time workers are accounted for, women earn 86% of what men do. Austria’s gender pay gap is still one of the largest in the EU.
Salaries and wages for expats in Austria
If you are moving to Austria for work, you will likely end up in the capital, Vienna. Thanks to its numerous industries, including research, IT, tourism, and service, it’s attractive to expats. However, other parts of Austria have a lot to offer. For example, Innsbruck has a bustling tourism industry, while Salzburg is home to international companies like Red Bull.
Many EU citizens move to Austria because the quality of life is better than in their home country, and jobs are more readily available. However, the most important factor is that they don’t need to get a work permit or visa. However, if you are a foreign national from outside the EU, you will need a resident permit or Red-White-Red Card. Although you need to have a company sponsor you for this card, you must also meet minimum monthly salary thresholds to get one. For example, a single expat must have a salary of at least €1,030.49 to get the card, while married couples must earn at least €1,625.71.
Household incomes in Austria are generally lower for foreign workers, with those from EU/EFTA countries earning more than those from elsewhere. However, if you’re working at an international company in a sector such as financial services, you can expect to make more than the average salary. To find out what you can expect to earn, visit Gehaltskompass (Salary Compass), which lists starting salaries for nearly 1,700 professions in Austria. Additionally, while unemployment in Austria is reasonably low, the unemployment rate for expats is significantly lower.
What to do if your salary is too low in Austria
Not receiving the minimum wage in Austria may make it difficult to afford the general cost of living in the country. With this in mind, you might want to start looking for a new job or talk to your company’s human resources department.
Check the collective agreement (Kollektivvertrag – KV) for your role and industry to find out if you’re being paid too little. In many cases, you are entitled to ask your employer to make up for discrepancies. However, consider contacting a trade union (in German) if the situation escalates. In dire situations, you can contact an employment tribunal (Arbeitsgericht).
- Minimum wages, Austria Statistics – a government statistics bureau page about minimum wages
- Disputes, Eurofound – a page about workplace dispute resolution in Austria
- Personal income, Austria Statistics – a government statistics bureau page about personal income