Austria by Levone


(abstract from the MIRTI Handbook, 1998)


(…) The Municipality of Vienna chose to learn from practical experience about teleworking
in the city administration. It may be unusual, therefore, that a pilot telework experiment has
been set up as a top-down initiative, rather than as a result of pressure from employees or
trade unions.

The authority committed itself to the general statement, that "Teleworking should be
established wherever it is of use to the City of Vienna". This focus on the interests of the
employer may sound one-sided, but the authority is concerned to stress its constant
accountability to the taxpayer and its obligations in the use of taxpayers.

Factors for Teleworking

Five factors have been identified by the City of Vienna as the most important for the
success of teleworking:

      technology;
      organisation;
      task;
      the environment;
      the individual.


Technology is an essential, but the least interesting, factor in the introduction of telework.
There are in Vienna no technical problems whatsoever concerning datalines and the
connection and installation of PCs in homes. The technology for home teleworking places
is the same as in the office, with the same PC and printer installed. If a teleworker already
owns a private PC of the same quality and product standard as the office PC, he/she may
use it. The state of the art technology deployed is: a Pentium desktop PC or notebook PC,
a two channel dataline to HICOM or an ISDN connection, a laser printer and certain
security precautions.


A draft agreement was worked out between the personnel directorate, the internal
controlling department, several legal departments, the strategic EDP department of the city
council and those departments where teleworking should commence. The submissions of
the trade union were included and teleworking experiences of other firms or
administrations were considered as well. At time of writing, the agreement is yet to be
approved by the municipal director.

Questions raised and resolved concerned primarily:
      the legal status of teleworkers;
      teleworkers not to be disadvantaged or advantaged vis-à-vis other employees
       (except to the extent that teleworking itself might bring them advantages);
      changing times/hours of work;
      safety/data security issues;
      accidents occuring whilst teleworking;
      participation by teleworkers in training;
      participation by teleworkers in staff meetings;
      arrangements for support, help desk;
      maintenance of equipment;
      insurance of equipment;
      bearing the costs;
      overtime and compensations;
      office supplies.

A contrast could be detected between the attitudes of the city council departments and the
trade union. The union - as is its right and duty - took a more formal position in
safeguarding the rights and position of the teleworking employee and in guarding against
possible precedents being established in the teleworking pilot project which could later be
detrimental to employees. The city administration took a more pragmatic view, and was
keen to move to practical implementation of the pilot once the most obvious questions had
been answered. It adopted the default position that all the laws and regulations relevant for
the "habitual employee" should be - as far as technically possible - also apply to the
teleworker: in legal terms, there should be no difference between teleworkers and office-
based workers. It was agreed that teleworking was to be established as a pilot project
without prejudicing the future use of teleworking on a larger scale or in another form in the
city administration of Vienna.

 It should be stressed that the city administration considers trust between employer and
employee to be a basic condition for the relationship between both. Without this trust a
public management of such a size, with such a large number of employees and with so
many and widely different tasks to do, would be paralysed by the need for multiple controls
and would be grossly incompetent.


      any law or regulation concerning the "normal" office worker concerns also the teleworker;
      there is no change in the status of the employee or in any of his/her employment rights or duties
       except with reference to the place of work. Only formal employees are in the group of teleworkers;
      the teleworker spends part of the working time at the office (40 to 60 %) and part of it at home
       (reachable by phone in accordance with an individual agreement with his/her direct manager). Part
       of the time spent working from home can be chosen by the teleworker themselves;
      the number of teleworkers for the pilot project is between 15 and 25;
      no overtime may be done except when expressly ordered;
      equipment and telecommunication connections are provided by the city administration;
      costs of datalines, phone when used for the work, maintenance etc. are taken over by the City of
       Vienna; there is no extra payment for room, heating, electricity, etc.;
      accidents when teleworking will be handled in the same way as accidents at the office;
      involvement in the telework project may be stopped either employer or employee at any moment;
      the pilot project will last for a year, with the option of extending it;
      special meetings will be held at least every three months between teleworker, direct line manager
       and the strategic EDP department, also if requested with trade union representatives present.
Selection of participants

For several reasons, staff from the EDP department were primarily chosen to participate
as teleworkers in this pilot project. IT has had a long and effective role in the City of
Vienna. The EDP department was first set up in the early Sixties, and several of the
software systems developed then are of such good quality that they are essentially still in
use. All of the seventy-odd departments in the authority have at least office communication
programs, most also have specially designed applications. Nevertheless, higher -than-
average computer literacy and computer use was considered necessary for taking part in
the telework project, and this was the prime reason for choosing EDP workers. A second
reason for focusing on the EDP department is that its managers are on the whole and by
necessity open to change, and are most accustomed to management by objectives, which
is considered an indispensable factor for teleworking. To reiterate, however, the ultimate
aim for the City of Vienna will be to make all its departments and employees, as far as is
reasonable, "telework-able", whether or not they actually choose to do so.

Monitoring of staff efficiency

All workers in the City EDP are accustomed to undertake a time documentation procedure
and to keep deadlines. From this point of view, it makes no difference whether the work is
finished at home or in the office. Efficiency is to be controlled in the same manner in both


In line with the standard tasks of an EDP department, the teleworkers include
programmers, system programmers and EDP organizers; some are managers and senior
officials undertaking managerial work like personnel planning, responding to mail, report
writing, strategic planning etc.

 As all EDP workers are accustomed to produce special documentation for the settlement
of project costs, there is no material change or special work required for the necessary
telework documentation.

The environment

Data security and safety are two fundamental requirements in EDP, and this is even more
important if data and information is to be handled outside the office. The city administration
has taken certain steps to guarantee as far as possible security at telework places,
including the installation of special software and the introduction of security regulati ons to
be observed by teleworkers. The teleworker has the same obligation towards security as
the office worker.

 Another necessary factor is the ensure that teleworkers' families consent to work being
undertaken in the home environment. Small children, f or example, may hinder
concentrated work if they fail to understand the (visible or invisible) "Do not disturb" sign.
As a matter of fact, some of the female participants were keen to telework because they
felt that it would make the task of looking after their children easier. Whether this is the
case will be one of the especially interesting issues for the pilot to identify.
 The room allotted for teleworking must be quiet, without loud noises. As far as issues
such as ventilation, artificial light, size of the room, working table and chair, and heating
are concerned, the arrangements made for the telework pilot met the legal requirements of
employment protection law. Generally the living conditions of the chosen participants are
of a high standard; more than three quarters of the participants have a room of their own
for teleworking, the remainder creating a separate working area by adapting an existing

The individual

The City of Vienna maintains that the individuals involved are the most important factors
for success or failure of this telework project.

       The principle that telework must be voluntary is essential when commencing
        teleworking, and this has been a firm policy of the employing authority as well as
        the trade unions.
       The second most important principle is that the individual must be suitable for
        telework, looking not only at the work to be done but at factors such as the home
        environment, and the work performance of the employee over many previous years.
       Time Management skills are another requirement necessary for a teleworking
        employee. The employer may justly expect a return of investment by enhanced
        efficiency from teleworking, but this may only be obtained if the individual makes
        sensible use of the allotted time.
       Self discipline is an important quality in the employee - not so much in not fulfilling
        the agreed work but rather in resisting the temptation to exceed the hours to be
        spent working. Other enterprises with practical experience of telework warned
        against the danger of self-exploitation as one of the greatest dangers in telework.
        Teleworking employees are mostly highly committed to their work and interested in
        more than achieving the goals set. EDP programmers in particular tend to be very
        close to their work. So the border between telework and leisure time must be very
        carefully observed. Seen from this perspective, telework requires a mature person
        with a very well developed sense of responsibility.
       The most important quality of all is an outstanding capability to communicate. It is
        necessary for the teleworker to keep his/her place in the work community, to
        continue to feel and be felt as a part of the working world of his/her organisation,
        and to preserve the human relations and social connections - which after all are an
        essential part of being a human being. So in summary: The ability to communicate
        is a human quality which becomes the more indispensable the better the technical
        connections are.

(abstract from “Deployment of Telework in European Public Administration, by F. Betz, J. Riegler, I. Schwarz
(ZSI, Vienna), ed. European Foundation for the improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Dublin 1 999)

Background and motivation
In the context of overall restructuring of the central administration, it was originally planned
to outsource the Federal Office of Metrology and Surveying. With 1,700 employees, this
office is a division of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs. A feasibility study showed
an internal reform as the cheaper solution. A reduced labour force will be managed without
loss of jobs, but based on reduced replacement of retired employees. The reform targets a
reduction of the number of departments and remote office sites.
The remaining satellites are serving as hubs for tele-cooperation and are also available for
private users as telecentres. 25% of the administration's employees are expected to use
their homes as offices. Further to this, a 15% increase of productivity via telework is
expected. The major benefit for employees is seen in new opportunities to choose their
workplace, whereby the employer provides a brokerage domain for jobs to enable the
coordination of individual choice and mobility. The pilot is still in a planning phase (since
the end of 1996) and was introduced during 1998. The co-ordinator responsible for the
telework concept and strategic plans at the same time holds the function of a high level
union representative. Awareness building and information processes are considered as an
important part of `good practice', especially emphasising the common problem of
hierarchical transformations within public administration.
Teleworking, intensified networking and data share via new technological equipment will
be used for increasing customer services as well as for the creation of an Austrian digital
map. A questionnaire to evaluate internal transfer needs and individual perceptions for or
against telework has been developed by the telework manager in co-operation with the
DIPLOMAT project in Vienna.

Neither changes regarding working agreements nor shifts of employment status are
foreseen for the teleworkers in particular. Individual contracts will regulate specific telework

The pilot faces objections from central administration as well as from middle management
within the department's own ranks. The reduction of departments will require fewer
management functions, and managers facing the prospect of reduced staff numbers also
fear a loss of relevance regarding their own positions.
Lesson learned and outlook
In a climate of competitive pressure the outline of the trial, according to its promoters,
instrumentalises telework for a smart solution of structural change providing a stable
frame of relative high security for employees. To a certain extent this is due to the
personification of social partnership (telework manager and unionist) by one and the
same protagonist. A main lesson for the promoters of telework in debates with their
opponents has been the proof that employment arrangements of civil servants in Austria
are flexible enough to allow a workstyle with flexibility of time and place, whereby a
solution preferring work at remote offices to homebased work also serves them to
circumvent potential legal complications (insurance, accessibility of teleworkers' homes).
The pilot is currently setting up the first practical steps.

 (“Principles for Home- and Teleworking in the Department of Finance”, by Dr. Michael Manhard, Dr. Tamara Els,

Since home- and teleworking are becoming more commonplace in today's everyday
professional life, they have now also reached the fields of public service. Cost-efficient
information and communication technology and the increasing internationalisation of
exchanges of information and services have necessitated making work more flexible both
in terms of space and time.

For this reason, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance has appointed a working group
consisting of representatives of the human resources management, a regional tax
authority overseeing three Austrian states, the Austrian high c ourt of finance (UFS), the
workers' council and the commissioner for equal treatment. This working group is
commissioned to examine more closely the abovementioned new working possibilities.

Starting point for the working group was the current legal framework for home- and
teleworking. There has been a general consensus among all working group members that
this new way of working shall not produce any exclusive "winners" or "losers", neither on
the employer's nor on the employee's side. A further general consensus has been that
home- and teleworking can only be offered to employees whose area of activity is
compatible with home- and teleworking. Furthermore, this new way of working shall not
cause a social isolation of the employee concerned. Also, the re-entry of an employee
from a leave period (particularly from a maternity leave) shall be facilitated and the
conjunction of family and professional occupation shall be strengthened.

Home- and Teleworking exclusively rest on the pillars of voluntariness – ie, an employee
must not be compelled to such form of working – and of an agreement between the
employee concerned and his or her supervisor. By request and upon notification to the
administrative office in charge (for more on this, please see below), home- and teleworking
can well go hand in hand with a reduction of hours of work. Employees to whom home -
and teleworking will be offered must be proven and reliable as well as fit and proper for
this new form of working (expertise, inner motivation, trustworthiness, ability to act
independently, self-discipline, special fitness for self-organisation and ability of time
management). The work performance shall primarily be assessed on the basis of
qualitative output, rather than on recorded time worked.

The working group has worked out two variants of home- and teleworking, which are:
    occasional home- and teleworking and
    predominant home- and teleworking.

These terms will be explained below.

The absence from work during an agreed period of home- and teleworking like, eg,
vacation, employee's illness, special leave for taking care of a relative etc. have to be
notified to the administrative office in charge promptly. For these issues, the same rules
apply as when working at the work place.

These principles can constitute a binding framework for the entire department. Within
these rules, however, the managers of the individual divisions and sub-divisions can allow
for appropriate adjustments for each individual employee. The administrative office in
charge and the commissioner for equal treatment have to consent to such adjustment,
respectively, be notified thereupon.

The principles for home- and teleworking are laid down in the circular of BMöLS of
9 Oct. 2002, GZ. 920.069/8-II/6/02 and para. 17 of UFSG.
The terms "homeworking", "teleworking", "occasional", "predominant", "regular" and
"external duty" will be defined hereunder:

      HOMEWORKING: activities, which can be performed by the employee from home
       TELEWORKING: activities, which can be performed by the employee by using
       technical communication facilities partly provided by the employer (more please see
       below under A5 and B5) from a location that is not his or her work place
      OCCASIONAL: activities, which the employee irregularly performs from a location
       that is not his or her work place.
      PREDOMINANT: activities, which the employee performs outside his or her work
       place on more than two days a week on average and which are only occasionally
       performed at the work place.
      REGULAR: activities, which the employee regularly performs from a location that is
       not his or her work place on the same weekdays (eg, every Monday, or every
       Monday and Tuesday). Depending on the number of weekdays on which home-
       and teleworking take place (ie, either one or two days a week or three and more
       days a week), the principles for "occasional home- and teleworking", respectively,
       "regular" home- and teleworking apply.
      EXTERNAL DUTY: acts of inspection or other official acts, which (i) either take
       place in the premises of the inspected firm or in any case cause a result (ii) or serve
       to make an on-site investigation of the facts of a case. The principles of teleworking
       have no implication for the external duty.

The formal basis for this form of occupation is an agreement between the employee and
his or her supervisor. Home and teleworking may only be exercised on a daily basis and
needs to be documented in an appropriate way. If this form of work occurs predominantly
a written agreement needs to be made.

   1. The employment status remains fully intact. Due to home or teleworking a new
      employment status is not defined. Reduced working hours are also not affected by
      this form of occupation.
   2. Monthly salaries are unaffected.
   3. Other payments such as performance rewards, travelling allowances, etc. are also
      not affected. The regulation of working hours (including extra hours worked and
      overtime) is mandated by the ministry of finance in its respectively modified version
      of the decree on working hours .
   4. Availability: Those employees working at home need to be available for their
      supervisors on those days. Availability must be arranged and agreed upon with the
   5. Costs: Employees will not be reimbursed for costs (i.e. rent, heating expenses,
      energy costs, costs for computers, phone bills, online fees, etc…) arising from
      home or teleworking activities. Necessary writing materials will be provided by the
   6. Employees are fully insured when working at home, equal to the insurance at their
      work offices. Regarding accident insurance employees will then have full coverage,
      if accidents occurring are in a location and temporary and causal context related
      to their occupation.
   7. Supervisors have to evaluate the qualitative and quantitative output of
       employees that has been produced at the home. Missing or insufficient production
       of work causes loss of further establishment of home and teleworking opportunities.
   8. Office space/home working: The office space of employees working from home
       remains fully intact. Employees are responsible for creating appropriate work
       spaces at their homes. Visits of home working spaces by the employer are only
       possible with the agreement of the employee. Meetings with clients and other work
       related meetings are not allowed in private homes.
   9. Employees have to provide and guarantee the ongoing confidentialities also with
       this line of work. Data protection laws and data protection regulations of the resort
       are also to be kept with home or telework. Further on employees need to ensure
       that work related documents are not accessible to others.
   10. Liability: Employees are liable for the materials provided by the employer which are
       needed for home or telework in the same regard as holds for liability when working
       in their work offices.

The basis of this working form is a written agreement between the manager of the
individual division or sub-division and the employee. The time period of the agreement
shall not exceed one year and within a month (this period may be extended due to special
circumstances) cancellation of the agreement without reasoning shall be possible for both
employee and the supervisor. (For more please see below under B7).
Extension of the agreement not exceeding another year at a time shall be possible. These
agreements, as well as an extension or a possible cancellation, shall be notified to
administrative office in charge.
    1. Concerning the employment status there is no change to A.1. In case of parental
       leave with legal dismissal protection there may be another part time employment
       relationship. In this situation another full employment status for the same position
       shall not be possible during the parental leave.
    2. Monthly salaries (except in case of parental leave) are unaffected.
    3. Concerning other payments it is the same as in A.3, as long as there are other legal
       requirements (e.g. travelling allowance)
    4. Availability: In principle A.4 applies to availability, too. However, there shall be an
       agreement between the employee and the supervisor concerning a minimal
       compulsory attendance. The home- or teleworking employees are obliged to
       participate in the division meetings. They shall be informed in due time about these
       meetings. In urgent cases the employees shall be attendant at the division within
       reasonable time upon a call.
    5. Costs: Necessary standard IT equipment will be provided by the employer. Costs
       for an internet connection, phone calls and office supplies will be reimbursed to the
       employees. Necessary writing material will be provided by the employer.
       Employees will not be reimbursed for other costs (i.e. rent, heating expenses,
       energy costs).
    6. Concerning insurance, A.6 applies for predominant teleworking, too.
    7. The work performance shall be evaluated as in A.7. If the supervisor or the
       administrative office in charge decides that the employee's performance is not
       sufficient, the teleworking agreement may be cancelled at any time. For civil
       servants legal requirements concerning the evaluation of output and a disciplinary
       procedure or, in extreme cases, even dismissal shall be considered.
    8. Office space/home working: Visits of home working spaces by the employer are
       only possible on agreement with the employee. Meetings with clients and other
          work related meetings are not allowed in private homes. Access to the
          homeworking place of the employee shall be possible only upon approval of the
          employee. If and in which form there's a need for an office working space shall be
          considered by the necessities of the division. At least there shall be a shared
          working place for the teleworkers.
      9. Confidentialities: A.9 applies to predominant teleworking, too.
      10. Liability: A.10 applies to predominant teleworking, too.

B.)       Clarification of legal and factual questions
      1. A working group for the clarification of legal und factual questions will be
      2. Permanent members of this working group are a representative of the human
         resources department, a representative of the worker's council and the
         commissioner for equal treatment.
      3. Other members of this working group is the concerned employee, the supervisor (or
         manager of the respective division) and a representative of the relevant staff
         association on the division level.

C.)   Taking effect
These principles are put into force on the 1 st of May 2003 for two districts and the central
department of the ministry of finance. For the Austrian high court of finance the part
concerning teleworking as the situation arises is put into force on the 1 st of May 2003.

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