Working Time Agreements

On the second issue, the Supreme Court held that the Working Time Act did not suspend the general rights and legal authorities granted to social partners under the Industrial Relations Act, which includes the general legal power to enter into collective agreements on issues such as working time and payment conditions. While the Working Time Act, as a more specific law, crushes the Labour Relations Act with regard to the setting of the maximum daily working time in flexible hours, the right of social partners to set ceilings for the classification of these hours in normal or overtime hours remains intact, as this aspect of the flexible working hours scheme relates to the remuneration of work performed. This is why, regardless of the new Working Time Act, social partners retain the right to set such limits. This is potentially bad news for employers and workers. Employers may opt out of the introduction of flexible hours (by ready-to-use agreement, which must be agreed with the Works Council or, in the absence of an enterprise committee, by an individual agreement with staff) allowing a 12-hour workday to avoid the payment of costly overtime for the 11th and 12th hours worked. As a result, workers will also not benefit from the new legal framework that would have allowed them to take full days off to compensate for 12-hour working days (. B, for example, on a Friday or Monday, resulting in longer weekends). The only way to avoid this consequence would be to adapt collective agreements to the new law, which requires the agreement of the social partners. However, given the outcry caused by workers` organizations when the 12-hour maximum was introduced, this does not seem likely in the foreseeable future. In the first decision on this subject, the Supreme Court clarified all relevant issues concerning the collective agreement of metallurgists (OGH 16.12.2019, 8 ObA 77/18h). This decision will have important implications for many other sectors with similar collective agreements.

The new Working Time Act, amended on 1 September 2018, increased the maximum daily working time from 10 to 12 hours. In addition, the maximum weekly working time has increased from 50 to 60 hours. However, the normal daily working time remained at eight hours. The new regime also applies to flexible hours, so that under the new law and if the specific flexible hours regime (enterprise contract or employment contract) allows it, all working hours within the 12-hour-a-day limit are considered a standard working time without an increase for overtime.