Germany isn’t the only country with a holiday pay fund. A similar institution operates in Austria. Its purpose is to protect the interests and holiday rights of workers in the construction sector. Due to the fact that both employees directly hired in Austria and those posted to this country are subject to the building fund, we will tell you how the Austrian holiday pay fund functions and what claims workers are entitled to.

1. Holiday pay fund in Austria

Bauarbeiter-Urlaubs- und Abfertigungskasse (BUAK for short) – the Construction Workers’ Holiday Pay Fund constitutes the Austrian equivalent of the German SOKA-BAU.

BUAK has a legal personality. It was granted by the Construction Workers’ Holiday and Severance Payment Act (BUAG), hereinafter referred to as the Act. The Act in question regulates issues relating to the functioning of BUAK and questions concerning the holiday entitlements of construction workers.

BUAK protects the holiday entitlements of employees hired in the construction industry. Its task consists of, among others, the payment of workers’ holiday claims and calculation of the contributions paid into the fund by employers. Indeed, working in the construction industry involves frequent changes of employers and interruptions in employment. These can have a negative impact on workers’ entitlement to holiday leave.

2. Construction industry

The obligation to pay contributions to BUAK is incumbent on employers in the construction industry. It should be noted here that the Austrian legislator has defined the construction industry very broadly in § 2 of the Act. The construction industry includes, among others:

  • master builders, master masons, construction companies, companies engaged in bending and laying of construction iron, demolition companies, companies of concession holders in the stone trade, companies involved in digging embankments, earthworks, drilling and cutting of concrete, water regulation, creek and avalanche control, remediation work, construction of roads and freight roads, chimney grinding, facade painting for thermal insulation;
  • master stonemasons, companies of stonemasonry trade license holders, artificial stone manufacturers, terazzo manufacturers;
  • roofing and paving companies;
  • furnace manufacturers (except companies engaged in pure production), as well as manufacturers of boards and tiles;
  • drilling contractors, companies holding licences to trade wells, asphalt companies, companies involved in deep drilling, rental of scaffolding, rental of construction machines with operating staff, heating, cooling, accoustic insulation and fire protection, black roof covering, sealing against moisture and water under pressure, plastering and partition finishing companies, companies laying stone wood, companies producing screeds;
  • carpentry enterprises and companies of concession holders in the carpentry trade, parquet laying companies.

3. Is the obligation to pay contributions to BUAK only imposed on national employers?

The obligation to pay contributions to BUAK isn’t only incumbent on national employers who hire workers directly in Austria. It also concerns employers who post workers there. The provisions oblige employers sending workers to Austria to guarantee posted workers at least the same amount of paid leave as should be granted to national workers. In practice, this means that an employer sending workers to Austria is also obliged to pay contributions to BUAK.

4. Amount of contribution to BUAK

In order to calculate the contribution paid to BUAK for a particular worker, it’s necessary to:

  • determine the number of days during which the employee worked in Austria,
  • the amount of daily holiday contribution.

The first criterion doesn’t raise any fundamental doubts. The employer is obliged to pay a contribution to BUAK for each day during which the employee performed work on Austrian territory.

According to the information on the BUAK website, the daily holiday rate is calculated using the following formula:

((hourly rate + 20%) x factor)/5

When determining the hourly rate, the type of work performed by the employee in Austria should be taken into account primarily.

The value of the factor depends on the standard of working time of a normally five-day working week. This is determined by the appropriate provisions.

Contributions paid by employers to BUAK are counted towards workers’ future holiday claims.

5. Holiday entitlements

A foreign employee sent to work in Austria acquires holiday entitlements in the same way as national workers.

A foreign employee obtains holiday entitlement from the first day of performing work in the Austrian territory.

The amount of the right to leave depends on the number of weeks entitling to holiday and accumulated by the employee. A “week entitling to holiday” corresponds to a calendar week in which work was performed for 5 working days. Each individual week is recorded in BUAK. The more weeks entitling to holiday an employee has acquired, the higher his/her holiday entitlements and, therefore, the higher his/her holiday claims.

6. Holiday benefits from BUAK

As in Poland, the worker should use leave acquired in Austria in kind. The employee is entitled to holiday pay for the period of leave taken.

The employer sends the request for leave pay to BUAK. This should take place at the earliest one month before the start of the worker’s leave and at the latest one month after its end.

BUAK may also pay compensation and equivalent for unused leave. Payment of each of these benefits occurs at the request of the worker concerned.

Equivalent for unused leave may be claimed by an employee who hasn’t finished working in the construction industry. Holiday compensation is tax-free.

An employee who has finished working in the construction industry in Austria is entitled to a claim for payment of the equivalent. The claim in question materialises 6 months after the end of work. The six-month deadline doesn’t apply if the employee retires or the applicant seeks funds for a deceased family member. Tax is withheld from the equivalent.

7. Information letter

BUAK sends information letters to employees for whom contributions have been paid. Such a letter contains data concerning the amount of holiday leave accumulated by the employee and cash collected.

8. Legal notice

The study is a work within the meaning of the Act of 4 February 1994 on Copyright and Related Rights (OJ 2006, No. 90, item 631, consolidated text, as amended). Publishing or reproducing this study or its part, quoting opinions, as well as disseminating in any other way the information contained therein without the written consent of Crede sp. z o.o. is prohibited.

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