The Republic of Austria has many attractions for international companies and foreign workers looking to find their niche in the country. To succeed in your expansion into Austria, it is vital for both employers and employees to have a strong understanding of the Austrian work culture.

Austria’s highly-developed industrial economy has a significant service sector and is 28th in the world for nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The per capita GDP of US$53,973 makes Austria the 13th richest nation in the world and the sixth wealthiest in the European Union (EU). Vienna, the capital; Salzburg, Mozart’s birthplace and famous for its musical festival; Interlaken and its spectacular landscapes of forests, lakes and the Alps are among the culture, attractions and heritage that attracts workers and visitors. Tourism sees Austria on the fringe of the world’s 10 most-visited nations.

As a global Professional Employment Organisation (PEO), we aim to be familiar and updated with the business culture in the country we work with and in. By sharing our knowledge about the Austrian work culture, we want to support your Global Expansion plans.

The Basics of the Austrian Work Culture

Work-life balance is crucial for Austrians, who are family-oriented and maximise weekends and downtime. Some companies, such as IBM, provide ‘downtime’ at work by offering yoga and massage breaks. Austria’s EU membership brings free labour movement between the community’s nations. This variety can be seen in the work culture, so expatriates must adjust to the business and workplace environment.

  • Language:  German is the official language, with the ethnic minorities in the south and east speaking Croatian, Hungarian or Slovene. English is widely used in business, but make a good impression by learning phrases; foreigners who can conduct business in German will have an advantage.
  • Punctuality: Essential, as it is the first stage in ‘getting the job done.
  • Business Meetings and Negotiations: Austrians prefer a calm and hassle-free business environment, with negotiations in the same vein and probably lengthy. The business structure is formal and hierarchical. Small talk is minimal, and they will expect communication to be proper, direct and part of creating a negotiation protocol. Austrians prefer third-party introductions, but their business interactions do not depend on forming a personal relationship.
  • Greetings: Generally reserved and formal, Austrians respect personal space but maintain eye contact while shaking hands. Initially, address counterparts with their title (or academic qualification) and surname: Herr (Mr.), Frau (Mrs. or Ms.), Herr Doctor or Frau Doctor, before the surname.
  • Gift Giving:  Not generally part of business, but moderate gifts are acceptable if invited to a private home, although this is not typical in Austria.
  • Business Cards:  Exchanged without ritual or fuss; have one side printed in German, offer that side, and include academic qualifications.
  • Dress Code: Appearance is vital in all situations; business wear for men and women is smart and conservative.
  • Avoid:  Offering opinions on Austria’s history in the 1930s and 40s. Do not confuse Austrians with Germans. Austrians are proud of their unique cultural history despite using the same language.

Labour Law and Austrian Work Culture

Austrian Minimum Wage

The effective minimum since 2020 is €1,500 (US$1,495) per month, including bonuses and overtime. There is no federally-applied minimum, but the limit was agreed upon between social partners and sectors negotiating collective agreements.

Probation Periods in Austria

Trials can be up to one month according to the contract, written agreement or CBA. Either party can terminate without reason.

Working Hours in Austria

The Working Hours Act (AZG) sets the maximums at eight hours a day (10 including overtime) and 40 a week (50 including overtime). The Working Time Rest Act (ARG) stipulates six hours of work must include at least a 30-minute break, continuous or spread between the working hours. CBAs can allow for more hours in some sectors.

Overtime in Austria

Employees can refuse to work extra hours if this would exceed 10 hours per day or 50 a week, under the Working Hours Act (AZG). Employees must receive at least 50% extra on their regular pay.


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