On termination of their employment relationship, Austrian employees have for decades been legally entitled to severance pay, subject to certain conditions.
The idea underpinning this legal provision was, and still is, that in the event of loss of employment through no fault on the part of the employee, this severance pay will provide a measure of interim financing to cover everyday expenditure.
Any such switchover is only permissible at the end of a calendar year. The statutory notice period is six months. So, notice must be given by June 30, for it to be effective as of December 31 of the same year.
At the beginning of March of the following year, the credit balance of active employees will automatically be transferred by the previous corporate staff provision fund to the new staff provision fund.
Send an application for membership form to APK Vorsorgekasse (Enterprises, Self-employed, Independent contractors). In addition, enterprises with a works council are obliged to conclude a works agreement.
If you fail to select a corporate staff and self-employment provision fund, the respective health insurance institution will randomly assign a corporate staff and self-employment provision fund to you. This, however, only happens after written information to this effect by the health insurance institutions; which leaves three more months for you to opt for APK Vorsorgekasse AG.
Generally, this is done by the respective social insurance institutions (ÖGK, BVAEB, SVS). There are two important exceptions to this provision in which contributions are paid to the corporate staff provision fund direct:
- Transition of an employee from the old severance pay scheme to the new severance pay scheme. In this case, the agreed transfer amount is paid by the employer to APK Vorsorgekasse AG direct.
- With attorneys-at-law, payment is made direct by giro transfer.
Within the scope of their joint monitoring of all wage-related levies and dues, the Austrian Health Insurance Funds also monitor an employer’s contributions on behalf of his/her employees. Since this does not happen on an annual basis, there may be some delay before the results of such monitoring are reflected in an employee’s account.
With the self-employed, contributions are specified by the Social Insurance Institution for the Self-employed (SVS). In the case of independent contractors and freelancers, the amount is specified by their respective health insurance institutions.
Contributions to corporate staff provision funds count as business expenses and hence reduce taxable income.
Contributions not exceeding the statutory amount of 1.53% do not constitute any tax- or social insurance-related advantage for the employee arising from the employment relationship.
All information relating to master data and contributions is forwarded to us by ÖGK (Austrian Health Insurance Funds), BVAEB (Insurance Institution for Public Service Wage and Salary Earners, Railways and Mining) or SVS (Social Insurance Institution for the Self-employed). The employer is only obliged to register a new employee with the respective health insurance institution; all relevant data are then automatically forwarded to the corporate staff provision fund.
Contributions by the employer are exempt from any tax and social security contributions. Any investment gains made by the corporate staff and self-employment provision fund are exempt from capital gains tax.
On transfer of a client’s accrued severance capital to a private bank account or payment by postal remittance, income tax is payable in the amount of 6%. It is automatically deducted and transferred to the Inland Revenue Office by APK Vorsorgekasse AG.
Continued investment of the capital with APK Vorsorgekasse AG, or transfer to another corporate staff provision fund is tax-free, as is payment into an institution for occupational retirement provision (staff pension fund, corporate group insurance or supplementary retirement pension insurance).
Your personal details are forwarded to us by the social insurance institutions. If you move to a new address, please contact your current employer or social insurance institution (ÖGK, BVAEB, SVS). They will then automatically forward your new address to us.
If you are no longer employed in Austria or are no longer resident here, and if, in consequence, your address details are not automatically updated with the social insurance institutions, we would ask you to inform us in writing – by mail, fax or email – about your current address abroad. Please enclose a copy of valid photo ID.
We would advise you, though, to notify your last social insurance institution (ÖGK, BVAEB, …) of your new address, since it will then be updated with the relevant corporate staff and self-employment provision fund/s.
Austrian law prohibits voluntary contributions to corporate staff and self-employment provision funds.
Accumulated severance pay capital cannot be forfeited. As to when a client can dispose of it, depends on the duration of contribution payments and on the reason for the termination of employment. A client is entitled to dispose of his/her severance capital if 36 monthly contributions have been made up to termination of the employment relationship and if the employment relationship was terminated for one of the following reasons:
- mutually agreed termination
- notice of dismissal by the employer
- end of agreed period of employment
- wrongful dismissal
- justified premature resignation
- resignation by the employee in part-time employment subsequent to maternity or paternity leave
The required 36 monthly contributions can result from any number of employment relationships, with various corporate staff and self-employment provision funds.
With self-employed or independent contractors, contributions amount to 1.53% of their contribution base for the Social Insurance Institution for the Self-employed (SVS), which stipulates contributions, collects them and forwards them to the respective self-employment provision fund.
The precise amount is dependent on the respective type of self-employed or independent professional activities.
During periods of care leave, the Republic of Austria will pay the contributions; during educational leave, this is done by the Austrian Employment Service (AMS); during parental leave, contributions come from the Family Burdens Equalisation Fund (FLAF).
All employment relationships entered into after December 31, 2002 are subject to the new severance pay scheme (inter alia: workers, salaried employees, part-timers and marginally employed, apprentices, individuals in vacation employment, ...)
Self-employed, independent contractors, quasi-freelancers and members of the board have been included in the new scheme since 2008, chartered engineering consultants since the year 2010.
Employment relationships entered into before January 1, 2003, remain subject to the old severance pay scheme. If an employee changes jobs within an enterprise and if his/her original employment contract was subject to the old severance pay scheme, this scheme remains applicable also to the new employment contract.
By mutual agreement with their employer, employees subject to the old severance pay scheme can, if they so wish, agree partial/total transition to the new severance pay scheme. In the event of total transition, the employer transfers any accrued entitlement capital resulting from the old severance pay scheme to a corporate staff and self-employment provision fund. The amount transferred is not stipulated by law but is subject to a contractual agreement. As of the moment of total transition, all entitlements are subject to the statutory provisions of the new severance pay scheme.
In the event of partial transition, any entitlements accrued pursuant to the old severance pay scheme remain with the employer. Thus, the accumulated entitlements continue to remain subject to the statutory provisions of the old severance pay scheme.
From the moment of transition – no matter whether partial or total – the employer pays 1.53% of the employee’s gross remuneration into the corporate staff provision fund.
Corporate staff and self-employment provision funds operate as specialist banks. As such, they are subject to rigorous monitoring by the Austrian Financial Services Authority, the National Bank, State Commissioners, chartered accountants and regular audits. Deposits are guaranteed by the deposit protection schemes of banks and bankers.
The new severance pay scheme was introduced in 2002, pursuant to the Corporate Staff and Self-employment Provision Act, which also stipulated the establishment of corporate staff and self-employment provision funds. In consequence, employees no longer receive severance pay from their employer direct but from one of these newly established corporate and self-employment provision funds. The new severance pay scheme is financed through monthly contributions by employers to corporate staff and self-employment provision funds.
As of January 1, 2008, the scope of the corporate staff provision scheme was extended to include self-employed individuals, independent professional contractors, quasi-freelancers, and members of the board. Only independent professional contractors can exercise an option on registering with a corporate staff and self-employment provision scheme within the first twelve months of their independent professional activities.
As of the second month of the employment relationship, the employer pays a contribution amounting to 1.53% of the gross monthly earnings of an employee, inclusive of any special payments, to the Social Insurance Authority (ÖGK-Austrian Health Insurance Funds, BVAEB – Insurance Institution for Public Service Wage and Salary Earners, Railways and Mining). The computation of this contribution does not take into account any marginal earnings threshold or maximum contribution base.
The Social Insurance Authority then transfers these contributions to the corporate staff and self-employment provision fund. All relevant data and details (e.g., amount of contributions) are forwarded to the corporate staff and self-employment provision funds by the Association of Austrian Social Insurance Institutions (DVSV). If there are two valid employment relationships in place with the same employer within a period of 12 months, obligation to pay contributions for the second employment contract starts with the first day of the employment relationship. However, employment relationships lasting less than one month are not taken into account.
During periods of national or alternative service, maternity benefit or sick benefit, the employer continues to pay these contributions. During periods of no, or reduced, remuneration following on to maternity or paternity leave, these payments are made by the Family Burdens Equalisation Fund (FLAF), and during periods of educational leave, contributions are paid by the Austrian Employment Service (AMS).
All clients have permanent access to their individual accounts via www.kontostand.at. The requisite access data (user, password) are part of the first written communication (‘A cordial welcome!’) and all account-related communication.
Your online account provides access not only to the most recent annual statement of account but also to monthly items and the complete history of your account.
Once a year, clients are informed in writing of the balance of their accounts. This statement shows the balance of the account as of December 31 of the previous year as well as any changes occurring during the previous year. Please note that this statement of account can only be issued after the relevant data have been furnished by the respective health insurance institutions. Around 95% of all account information packages go out during the first quarter of the subsequent year.
Prospective beneficiaries with a registered online account will not be sent printed information about their accrued capital by post.
In the following cases the client is definitely entitled to disposal upon termination of an employment relationship:
- retirement or termination of an employment relationship on reaching the age qualifying for early retirement
- if no contributions to any corporate staff and self-employment provision fund have been paid for five years
Upon the death of an employee, the capital accrued will be paid out to his/her dependants or is incorporated into the deceased’s estate.
There is no immediate entitlement to disposal if the employee terminates the employment relationship him/herself, has justly been dismissed or resigns prematurely in breach of contract, or if s/he has not accumulated 36 monthly contributions.
Please note that in such cases an employee’s entitlements will not be forfeited but continue to be invested with APK Vorsorgekasse AG.
When a client is entitled to disposal, we automatically send him/her the disposal documents (several pages) by mail.
This information pack includes a form for the client to opt for a specific type of disposal. Naturally, the completed form can be returned to us by whatever means (post, telefax, email). For security reasons, we also require a copy of a valid photo ID document.
As soon as you are entitled to disposal, we automatically send the documents for requesting disposal to your home address, and within a period of six months you can opt for one of these possibilities:
- continued investment of the capital sum with APK Vorsorgekasse AG
- transfer to your personal bank account, or by postal remittance to you in person (only possible within Austria)
- transfer to the corporate staff and self-employment provision fund of a new employer
- transfer to an institution for occupational retirement provision (retirement pension fund or insurance undertaking)
The disposal documentation takes into account all contributions, also those not yet included in the disposal documents, of the past year, as this year’s payslips will not have been forwarded to us yet.
When paying out the accrued capital, all contributions paid are taken into account, also those not yet included in the payment documentation.
If contributions are forwarded to us only after pay-out or disposal, we will automatically refund you.
Information in writing with regard to a valid severance pay entitlement is sent to the deceased person’s last address known to us.
The spouse or registered partner, as well as any children for whom family allowance was drawn at the time of death, are entitled to the full amount of the severance capital in equal shares. If none of the beneficiaries submits a claim within three months, the total amount of the severance pay will be incorporated into the deceased person’s estate.
On receipt of your written request for disposal, completed in full, the accrued capital will be paid out within the statutory period of two full months and five working days, starting from the termination of the employment relationship.
The statutory gross capital guarantee safeguards that, as a minimum, the sum total of the gross contributions made by the employer or the independent contractor is paid out. If the current credit balance exceeds this guaranteed capital value, the higher sum will be paid out as a matter of course.
If no contributions have been paid into the corporate staff and self-employment provision fund of your last employer for three years, you can have your severance pay entitlement transferred to APK Vorsorgekasse AG. The requisite form can be accessed via our homepage (Transition).