In Austria both the employer and the employee are required to pay social security contributions. The employee’s part of the contributions are withheld by the employer and then paid together with its own contribution. The basis of assessment is the employee’s monthly gross salary. The contributions cover insurance for health, unemployment, old age and disability..
Freelancer or Employee?
If you are freelancing and have a work contract (Werkvertrag) with a firm, however, it is important to distinguish whether you are truly self-employed or whether you are an employee of the firm.
The most important issue legally is how dependent you are on the firm.
If you are required to work on days and times specified by the firm and/or the firm provides you with materials necessary to do your job, you would probably be considered to be an employee. In such cases you must obtain a work permit, unless you are an EU national. Also, you and your employer must make social insurance contributions if your monthly income is greater than EUR 333,16 (as of 2006)
If you are independent of the firm with respect to working times and materials you are probably self-employed. The key to the self-employed/employee classification lies in the wording of the work contract itself, not in the type of work done. You should seek confirmation from the Department of Labour Law at the Bundesarbeitskammer or the appropriate Arbeitsmarktservice office in order to be certain about your status.
Please note: Independent contractors have reduced protection under labor law. The regulations of general civil law [Allgemein Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (ABGB)] take precedence in employer-employee relationships in the case of independent contractors.
In the absence of a specific agreement between an employer and an independent contractor, the regulations of employee law, the Vacation Act, the Working-Hours Act (in particular concerning added payment for overtime hours), required break time, and rights of continued payment do not apply.
Consequently, independent contractors are not protected by laws and regulations on collective bargaining agreement wages, required additional payments (Sonderzahlung), severance pay (Abfertigung), paid vacation, being on stand-by, nor against dismissal.
INSURANCE AND PENSION:
It possible to get individual health insurance with a regional Krankenkasse if you are self-employed. Details on health insurance including the extent of benefits provided can be obtained from:
Tel. 60 12 20
Minimum income work
Minimum income workers are considered those employees whose annual income does not exceed the monthly amount of, at present 374.02 euro (as of 2011).
With the exception of the regulation in the Employee Act about giving notice, the same regulations apply to minimum income workers pertaining to labour as for all other employees. Minimum income workers have, for example, the right to paid vacation, as well as the right to stay for a sick child [Pflegefreistellung]. They are also entitled to severance pay [Abfertigung] under same conditions as all other employees.
Please note: Depending on which collective bargaining agreement is applied, minimum income workers have the right to other additional payments such as paid vacation and a Christmas bonus.
Social Insurance (Minimum Income Work)
Minimum income workers are covered by accident insurance. The employer is required to enrol them with the responsible district health insurance fund [Gebietskrankenkasse] . .
It is recommended that minimum income workers voluntarily obtain health insurance [Krankenversicherung] and pension insurance [Pensionsversicherung]. The application for optional insurance is must be submitted to the responsible district health insurance fund [Gebietskrankenkasse] . For the year 2011, the worker must deposit a monthly contribution of 52.78 euro.
Important: If you have more than one job below the monthly minimum limit and earn more than the current (2011) minimum of 374.02 euro per month in all those jobs together, you must be insured for health [Krankenversicherung] and pension insurance [Pensionsversicherung] and have to pay based on the entire sum of your part-time incomes. Thus, a minimum income worker receives full coverage of health insurance.
Important: If you have a minimum income job in addition to employment where you are fully insured, you are still obligated to contribute to health insurance [Krankenversicherung] and pension insurance [Pensionsversicherung] in proportion to your additional minimum income.
People who are self-employed may participate in the Austrian individual pension program (Selbstversicherung). You have the right to receive a pension after 15 years of paying premiums. If you leave Austria, you may continue to participate in the program by paying the premiums from abroad. Details concerning the individual pension program may be obtained from: