Short-time working may be introduced by collective agreement, works agreement or individual agreement between employer and employee.
In cases where it is arranged because of a fairly long-term serious disruption of the national economy, the employer may receive from the competent office of the Employment Service a special subsidy (Kurzarbeitsbeihilfe) intended to offset part of the loss of pay suffered by employees as a result of short-time working, provided that the local branch of the Employment Service has been informed in good time and in particular that the competent bargaining parties on the employer and employee sides have concluded a collective agreement on the payment of a compensatory short-time allowance (Kurzarbeitsentschädigung) during a period of short-time working. The subsidy is not available to the employer in the absence of such an agreement, which must stipulate, among other things, that no employees will be dismissed during the period concerned, that in any four consecutive weeks at least 32 hours will be worked (this applies where there is a 40-hour working week; the figure is reduced proportionately where normal working hours are shorter), and that for the hours not worked the employer will pay employees a compensatory allowance amounting to at least the corresponding unemployment benefit.
The degree of influence available to the social partners under these arrangements as regards the introduction of short-time working and the fact of whether or not the employer receives a subsidy for short-time working has been one of the reasons why Austrian employers seldom make use of the instrument of short-time working. However, since there has as yet been no discussion of any change in the legal situation automatically entitling the employer to introduce short-time working in the presence of certain preconditions and automatically entitling employees to a corresponding short-time allowance, it has to be assumed that, despite its shortcomings, the existing system will continue in the future.