Information provided by Pensionisten Verband and desk research
Support in the labour market
In Austria, the employment rate of 20–64-year-olds (77.3%) is slightly above the European employment rate (74.6%). However, after age 55, the employment rate drops drastically to 56.4% (among 55–64-year-olds), which is 5.9% below the European average. The long-term unemployment rate of 49.3% among 55–64-year-olds is also particularly high.
|Employment rate per age and gender||Men 20-64||Men 55-64||Women 20-64||Women 55-64|
According to the 2022 labour market report prepared by the Austrian statistics office, looking at age groups and genders, men aged 35-44 (90.5%) have the highest employment rate. Women aged 45 to 54 (84.2%) have the highest employment rate. From the age of 55 onwards, the proportion of men and women in employment is significantly lower. The employment rate for people aged 55-64 was 56.4% in 2022. In Austria, women currently retire earlier than men (60 versus 65). However, from 2024, the retirement age will be increased by 6 months each year, so that women and men will eventually have the same retirement age. As a result of this difference in the retirement age, in 2022 significantly more men (63.9%) than women (49.0%) were employed in this age bracket.
Since 2018, €165 million is available annually for the integration of older workers into the labour market under a “50+ Employment Initiative“. Funding is granted to workers who are 50 years old or more and have been registered with the public employment service for more than 90 days. If jobseekers have poor chances of finding a job due to health problems or a long absence from the labour market, they can benefit from the “Employment Initiative 50+” even before the 90-day registration period expires.
Austria also supports partial retirement, which allows employees to reduce their working time until retirement, with minor financial losses. Incentives are in place for this purpose, through a subsidy from the public employment service for employers who allow their employees to work part-time.
Overall, women’s participation in the labour market has increased significantly in recent years, but almost exclusively as a result of the expansion of part-time work. , According to the labour market report for 2022 from the Austrian statistics office, between 1995 and 2022, the part-time employment rate for women with children under 15 rose from 40.9% to 73.0%. The reasons for working part-time differ greatly according to gender. 39.5% of all women working part-time did not work full-time in 2022 because of personal or family obligations. This is mainly due to caring for children, disabled people and people in need of care.
On the other hand, to encourage pensioners to continue working when the statutory retirement age is reached, the worker-pensioner can receive, for three years, a bonus and an increase of 4.2% per year in the old-age pension.
Age discrimination in employment
In Austria, the world of work is probably the most protected area against discrimination compared to all other areas of life. This applies both to employment relationships in the private sector and to employment relationships in the public sector.
The EU Employment Framework directive has been transposed into national law by the Equal Treatment Act. It provides, among other things, that an application for a job may not be rejected solely based on the applicant’s age. Selections must be made exclusively based on objective criteria, namely, qualification and professional aptitude. The law also provides that in the context of an existing employment relationship, age must not lead to discrimination in terms of remuneration, training and further training measures, promotions or working conditions. It also provides that if a dismissal is based on age, it can be reported and damages can be claimed. Finally, there is also protection in the case of harassment (derogatory remarks, jokes, insults, etc.) by co-workers or superiors based on age. In addition, age discrimination is not allowed in the areas of vocational guidance, vocational training, further vocational training and retaining.
Some sectors are given additional protection. This is the case for civil servants protected by an Equal Treatment Act, which exists at the federal level but also at the provincial level.
However, age discrimination exists in practice. In his latest report (2018/19), the Equal Treatment Ombudsman documented that it informed and advised people 427 times about age discrimination and provided individual support after incidents of age discrimination, which represents about 10% of all complaints.
The length of the complaint procedure is also an issue. More attention should therefore be paid to speeding up the procedures. To this end, it is essential to increase the human and material resources of the Equal Treatment Commission to allow for substantial acceleration.
Access to the Equal Treatment Act and the enforcement of complaints arising from it remain very difficult and burdensome for the persons concerned. The sanctions provided for in the law are often not sufficient to protect employees who are discriminated against and to have a general and specific preventive effect on employers. However, awareness of legal possibilities and knowledge of institutions that can be helpful (e.g., the Equal Treatment Commission) is not very high.
Finally, the Equal Treatment Commission and its role should be better known among the population. Campaigns should be developed, as many of the persons concerned are still unaware of the possibility of a free procedure before the courts of the Equal Treatment Commission.
Policy Officer on Employment and European Parliament Liaison
Sarah is in charge of AGE’s policy activities in the fields of employment, participation and active citizenship in old age. She also monitors EU initiatives on volunteering for older people and lifelong learning. She is responsible for the Task Force dedicated to on Employment, participation and active citizenship. Sarah also coordinates AGE’s relations with the European Parliament (EP).