Good Friday („Karfreitag”) – a public holiday? A working day? A holiday?

Find more details regarding the legal background of the decision of the European Court of Justice.

Up to now, Good Friday was a public holiday according to Working Rest Act (“Arbeitsruhegesetz – ARG”) for Protestants and Old Catholics.
In the case that these employees worked on a Good Friday, they received their „normal“ salary and an additional salary for each worked hour (as they have been working on “their” public holiday). Moreover, a few collective agreements contain additional rates.

The discussion on the Good Friday was triggered by an employee, who worked on a Good Friday and demanded additional salary for the worked hours, although he was neither evangelic nor old catholic. As the employer refused to pay, the employee sued.

The European Court of Justice judged in favor of the employee and determined that the current regulation in Austria is against the principle of equal treatment, as members of certain denominations are privileged.

In the last few weeks the Good Friday was intensively discussed in Austria. Now the federal government decided that Good Friday won´t be a public holiday anymore. Instead,

  • each employee will have a „personal public holiday“ per holiday year,
  • which will be taken from the holiday contingent and
  • employees are legally entitled to take this holiday.
  • This right must be communicated 3 months in advance to the employer (in the first 3 months after the new law takes effect, this term is only 2 weeks).
  • In the case that an employee exceptionally works on his personal public holiday (e.g. due to staffing shortage), he does not only receive the „normal“ salary but also an additional salary for each worked hour.

For the past:
Those employees who demonstrably requested an additional salary for a Good Fridays but did not receive can now claim. However, prescription regulations have to be taken into account.

Other sources of law:
Furthermore there might be similar discriminatory regulations for Good Friday in collective agreements or works agreements.  These regulations now are invalid.

Conclusion for the next Good Friday:
For the next Good Friday on April 19th, 2019 an employee can claim a personal public holiday 2 weeks in advance.

Do you have questions about this or similar topics? We are happy to be there for you! 

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