General information on equal treatment in the private sector

Caution

These rules apply to all EU citizens in Austria.

The requirement on equal treatment in the private sector is regulated by the Equal Treatment Act.

The prohibition on discrimination in association with an employment relationship in the private sector covers the following areas:

  • establishment of the employment relationship
  • fixing of salary
  • voluntary social benefits (e.g. loyalty bonuses, company canteens) that do not constitute salary
  • operational training, further training and retraining measures
  • promotions
  • other working conditions
  • termination of the employment relationship
  • (sexual) harassment.

There are also exemptions, however. For example, discrimination on the basis of age has not occurred if the unequal treatment:

  • is objective and appropriate
  • is justified by a legitimate aim, e.g. by a legitimate aim from the area of employment policy
  • and the means for achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary.

The prohibition on discrimination in the wider working world covers the following areas:

  • career guidance, vocational training, workplace training and retraining outside of an employment relationship
  • membership of an employees’ or employers’ organisation and recourse to the services of such organisations
  • creation, establishment or expansion of a company and commencement or extension of any other kind of self-employed activity
  • (sexual) harassment.

The Equal Treatment Act applies to employees, home workers and employee-like persons (e.g. independent contractors).
In the event of a violation of the requirement for equal treatment, those affected by discrimination may contact the Ombud for Equal Treatment for advice.

Advice

The obligation to comply with the requirement for equal treatment begins as soon as vacancies are advertised. Entrepreneurs, private employment agencies and the public employment service (AMS) are required to draft job advertisements using gender-neutral and non-discriminatory language, and to indicate the minimum salary to be expected for the advertised position in line with the collective agreement or as stipulated by law and readiness to pay overtime, if applicable.
In economic sectors that are not subject to a collectively agreed minimum wage, the salary that is to be used as a basis for negotiating the salary agreement must be indicated. This does not include employee-like persons and employees in senior management positions (e.g. directors). Provision is made for administrative penalties in the event of a violation.

More detailed information on the subject of "Sexual harassment at the workplace" can also be found at oesterreich.gv.at. Further information on forms of discrimination (including, in particular, with regard to salary) can also be found at USP.gv.at.

An evaluation was carried out in 2015/2016 on the tools for enforcing equal treatment, under the joint supervision of the Federal Ministry for Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection and the Federal Ministry for Health and Women’s Affairs.

The chief objective of the evaluation was to highlight the numerous facets of the Equal Treatment Act and the Federal Act on the Equal Treatment Commission and the Ombud for Equal Treatment and, in particular, to investigate the efficiency of existing regulations from an expert point of view.

The knowledge and findings obtained were summarised in a report, which also detailed the differing views taken by the experts on each individual point. Proposals for improvement and/or further development were also put forward on some points. These proposals have been included in the report despite being mostly regarded as controversial by the experts.

Further links

Legal basis

Translated by the European Commission
Last update: 8 April 2021

Responsible for the content: Federal Ministry of Labour