Labour Law, branch of law governing persons in dependent employment, rooted in the recognised need to protect employed persons in view of the much stronger economic position of their employers. Labour law can be broken down into the law on employment contracts, which governs employee/employer relations, protection of workers law, which stipulates the duties of employers under public law in the interest of employees, and collective labour law, which lays down standards at higher-than-company level (in particular Collective Agreements) and the participation of workers in decision-making (through Works Councils and Plant Agreements).
Labour legislation takes the form of a large number of specific laws. The essential contract-law provisions regarding Angestellte are found in the Angestelltengesetz (Law on White-collar Workers), while different provisions obtain for Arbeiter (blue-collar workers), whose legal standing is being gradually brought in line with that of white-collar workers. The Code of Civil Law (ABGB) serves as a subsidiary source of law. Special provisions govern groups of individuals in need of special protection (such as pregnant women, parents, handicapped persons, military personnel and members of works councils). The law also stipulates restrictions concerning children and juveniles as well as the prohibition of night work by women.
Working conditions in the individual branches of economic and industrial activity are laid down in concrete form in collective agreements, which cover in particular such matters as minimum pay, the number of Working Hoursand holidays. Employment contracts have to comply with the stipulations of company-level agreements, collective agreements and the relevant laws.
In general, working relations entered into without time limit can be terminated at certain fixed dates by giving notice of termination a stipulated time in advance, and no reasons for termination need be stated in the notice. Once the working relationship has existed for three years or more, the employed person is entitled to severance pay. Either contracting party can terminate the working relations without notice for important reasons.
Conflicts arising from working relations are decided by Labour and Social Tribunals as courts of first instance.
Literature: W. Schwarz and G. Löschnigg, Arbeitsrecht, 71999; C.-G. Vogt, Ö. Arbeitsrecht, 1998.