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Austria – Temporary agency work amendments face backlash

22 October 2013

The amendments to the Temporary Agency Work Act (AÜG), currently before the Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs for review, have prompted the Austrian Federation of Work and Employment (VZa) to warn that the proposed changes could be damaging.

Klaus Lercher, President of the VZa, said: “In the present form, the amendment is directed in key areas against the workers, i.e. those the EU guidelines is supposed to protect. It is important that these rules be amended so that the legislature, in the spirit of the directive for more fairness, can provide more jobs and social security.” 

There are several aspects of the proposed amendments that are welcomed by the VZa, namely the closer integration of temporary workers with employer enterprises on workplace safety. Many of the proposed innovations are already standard practice. The VZa supports these changes because foreign service providers will be required to adhere to supposedly high Austrian workplace standards.

As the same time, the VZa warned against proposals that contradict the spirit of the EU directive on Temporary Agency Work, and the subsequent negative effects on workers, domestic companies, the labour market, and Austria’s reputation as a place to do business.

Klaus Lercher said: “We fear that 50,000 jobs will be lost in the industry. Anyone who finds a new job, it will be under worse conditions. These people will be pushed into free collective employment contracts or other agreements that provide less income and less security. There will also be an increase in ‘black labour’.”

One of the proposals is the introduction of a 14 day notice period for temporary workers for contracts of more than three months. The VZa claims that this will reduce the flexibility of the industry and could result in delays. The new proposals could also impact unemployment figures, as time between contracts would be increased, as temporary workers would have to finish their contract, receive two weeks’ notice, and wait until they can start their new job.

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