cee legislation tracker: austria

19 November 2020 | newsletters

Status as of 19/11 9:45 am CET               

Table of content

Note: recently updated content is highlighted in grey 

 

1 Financial Support Measures

1.1 Corona Relief Fund
(for more details check out our legal insight)

  • 19/11: As of 19/11 enterprises can apply for the 3rd tranche of the grant for fixed costs, if qualified accounting data is available. Applications are to be handed in by a tax consultant, auditor or accountant, even if the total amount applied for does not exceed EUR 12,000.
  • 06/11: Ministry of Finance announced that additional Phase 1 grants for fixed costs will be available for November with a maximum amount of EUR 800,000 (certain support measures to be offset) (find more info here).
  • 24/08: Phase 2 guidelines for grants for fixed costs published on Website of Ministry of Finance (find them here; entry into force subject to approval by EU-Com and subsequent publication in Federal Law Gazette). Application deadline extended, eligibility requirements broadened, e.g. fixed costs may be refunded after a 30% decrease in revenue, 100% of loss of sales may be fully refunded (100%).  
  • 19/08: As of 19/08 enterprises can apply for the 2nd tranche of the grant for fixed costs. If qualified accounting data is available, enterprises can claim the entire phase I of the grant for fixed costs without having to wait for the 3rd tranche. From the 2nd tranche onwards the amount of sales shortfall and fixed costs must be confirmed by a tax consultant, auditor or accountant, the costs of which are considered fixed costs up to EUR 500 (find more info here).
  • 06/08: accountants eligible to submit application for grants for fixed costs (find the amendment here). 
  • 21/07: guidelines for grants for site-relevant companies effective as of 22/07. Grants to be issued by COFAG to i.a. companies in the sectors of infrastructure, energy, telecommunication (find the guidelines here, find the ordinance here).  
  • 17/06: application for grants for fixed costs now subject to automated plausibility report to be submitted by Ministry of Finance to COFAG (find the amendment here). 
  • 25/05: guideline for grants for fixed costs effective as of 26/05 (find the version published in the Federal law Gazette here).
  • 23/05: EU Commission greenlights Austrian scheme allowing grants for fixed costs (find more info here and here).
  • 13/05:
    • Measures of ABBAG/COFAG harmonized with public guarantees as regards prohibitions of assignment (find the legislative amendment here);
    • Grants (including hardship fund) and Guarantee schemes via aws and ÖHT received by applicants, eligible for review and control by tax authority (find the legislative amendment here);  
    • guideline for grants for fixed costs published on the website of the Ministry of Finance (find the guideline here);  application for grants for fixed costs open as of 20/05 via FinanzOnline (find more info here).
  • 20/04: SMEs eligible for facilitated aws guarantee schemes - 100% liability covered by the Republic for credits amounting up to EUR 500.000,- (find more info here). New guarantee schemes (80%, 90%, 100%) introduced for tourism industry via ÖHT (find more info here).
  • 08/04: Application for guarantee scheme (90% proportional liability) possible as of 08/04.  Guidelines published. COFAG issues guidance for credit institution for applications for guarantee schemes, which will be processed in co-ordination with OeKB (re larger corporates), aws (re SME) and ÖHT (re tourism enterprises). Registration for application for grants for fixed costs (incl perishable goods) will be opened on beginning of May via the aws online tool.
  • 05/04: Federal funding agency (COFAG) founded and entrusted with implementing the corona relief fund endowed with 15 bn; maximum amount paid out is equivalent to the turnover of three months or 120 million. Statutory measures and certain guidelines to follow, regarding coverage of liquidity-related costs and payment obligations via assumption of liability, grants and repayable advances (up to EUR 800 tsd) as well as direct loans. Companies are eligible if turnover has decreased by at least 40% due to the corona crisis. Subsidies up to 90 million will be made available, which should cover up to ¾ of operating costs. Companies with more than 250 employees are not allowed to fire employee if they receive state aid and should rather use the short time work programme.

1.2 Hardship Fund

  • 16/10: new guidelines allow for an extension of the Hardship Fund, providing for grants for up to 12 months in a period between 16 March 2020 and 15 March 2021,  raising the maximum individual funding amount to a total of EUR 30,000.
  • 04/06: guideline published by Ministry of Finance re the extension of the application period from 3 months to 6 months, the introduction of EUR 500 minimum threshold that is paid out and a comeback bonus of up to EUR 3,000. In total the maximum amount paid out can be up to EUR 15,000; moreover the eligibility criteria are broadened as regards retired persons with marginal employment.
  • 05/05: eligibility criteria to include as of now persons employed on a casual basis and persons working more than marginal employment, thus encompassing persons with total income surpassing the low income threshold (find the amendment here).
  • 30/04: guideline published re broadened eligibility criteria for applications, including minimum receivable grants and an extended period of consideration (find more info here). On for application on this basis, starting with 04/05.
  • 20/04: Grants from phase 2 are open for application (find the application form and relevant info here; find the funding guidelines here). Applications for grants from phase 1 will remain open to submission until 17/04.
  • 02/04: The Minister of Finance announced a budget increase to 2 bn and expansion of the eligibility criteria to also include newly founded companies (from 01.01.2020).
  • 27/03: Details and clarifications: available to one-person enterprises, micro-enterprises, freelancers and newly self-employed with registered office/permanent establishment in Austria in the form of non-repayable subsidies, paid out in two phases: in phase 1 max. EUR 1,000, in total max. EUR 6,000. Application is open online from 27.03. at 17:00 at the Chamber of Commerce, which is commissioned with the implementation.
  • 21/03: grants are made available to the affected companies (e.g. one-person enterprises, freelancers and non-profit organizations) in connection with the coronavirus crisis; legal basis founded for issuing guideline to make grants available to agriculture and forestry businesses as well. 

1.3 SME Support by AWS and ÖHT

  • 15/11: support scheme for the event industry endowed with a total of EUR 300 million and in force, envisaging for the Republic to assume liability for non-cancellable costs if events that have already been initiated cannot take place or can only take place at a reduced rate (more details to follow in guidelines yet to be published).
  • 12/11: credit amounts under aws/ÖHT 100%-guarantees to be offset with compensation scheme for lost revenue (maximum total limit of EUR 800,000). ÖHT offers to align effective guarantee limit of the 100%-guarantees offered, with the actual amount required for the financing so as to allow for more capacities to apply for the compensation scheme for lost revenue.
  • 05/11 federal council greenlights support scheme for the event industry envisaging for the Republic to assume liability for non-cancellable costs if events that have already been initiated cannot take place or can only take place at a reduced rate.
  • 29/10: additional increase of funds for the investment premium program to at least EUR 3 bn communicated. Until then, applications, but no grant approvals by aws are possible.
  • 30/09: the investment premium program is endowed with another EUR 1 bn., amounting to a sum total of EUR 2 bn.
  • 01/09 guidelines on investment premium marginally amended (find the updated guidelines here; find the a summary of the amendments here). To apply for the investment premium and for more info, see here.
  • 14/08: aws published more details on the investment premium. The investment premium is a non-refundable grant of a minimum of EUR 5,000 and maximum of EUR 50 Mio available to enterprises with their seat/operations in Austria for new investments in depreciable fixed assets, which can be requested from the aws between 01.09.2020 and 28.02.2021. 
  • 10/08: aws bridge guarantees are eligible to be used as collateral (to be deposited at the OeNB or ECB) for refinancing operations.
  • 10/08: aws investment premium announced to incentivize new investments in businesses starting with 01/09, with a basic premium of 7%. Investments in the areas of digitization, environment as well as health and life science carry an augmented premium of 14% (find more info here). Details to follow.
  • 13/07: ÖHT guidelines re guarantee schemes adapted, so as to i.a. enable medium size enterprises to access COVID-19 100% and 90% guarantee schemes, even if the applicant qualifies as undertaking in difficulty pursuant to the EU-Reg 651/2014 (find more info here).   
  • 11/06: grant-scheme for film and tv productions: grants via aws amounting max. 75% of production costs eligible for funding (with maximum total grant amounting EUR 2,5 m.), provided that production was paused due to COVID measures (find more info here). 
  • 27/05: The Minister of Tourism announced a "New Start Bonus" programme for tourism to be launched in June. 
  • 11/05: Covid-Start-up-support fund supplements equity (or equity like) investments (minimum of EUR 10,000,-) with additional grants by aws amounting 100% of the investment (maximum of EUR 800,000,-; find more info here).
  • 16/04: Measure package announced for start-ups and VC Funds. Guidelines are currently being finalized (find more info here).
  • 21/03: Increasing the framework for guarantees for individual companies and increasing the guarantee framework regarding AWS and ÖHT. The Minister of Finance is empowered (for 3 months) to extend limit of indemnity by the Republic of Austria to the benefit of AWS and ÖHT for support (e.g. guarantees) granted to companies by AWS or ÖHT.

1.4 Banking & Finance and other support measures

  • 06/11: compensation-scheme for lost revenue, covering up to 80% of lost revenue for businesses under the obligation to close due to the ordinance on COVID-measures (max EUR 800,000), open for application from 6/11 until 15/12 (find more details here and here); certain support measures to be offset – this does not apply for grants for fixed costs (Phase 1), ie measures may be combined (find the guidelines here ).
  • 03/11: parallel federal bond auction  by OeKB (find the result here).
  • 15/10: legislation in force extending the statutory moratorium until 31/01/21 (as regards consumer loans) (find more info here and the promulgation here; for an overview on moratoria see here). The legislation also extends:
    • the suspension of the duty to file for bankruptcy due to over-indebtedness until 30/01/21, if the over-indebtedness occurred between 01/03/20 and 31/01/21.
    • The exemption re equity substituting loans until 31/01/21: certain loans not to be deemed equity substituting if granted by shareholders to their company for no more than 120 days from 05/04 until 31/01/21 and for which the company has not provided a pledge or comparable security from its assets
  • 07/10: Austrian government announces plans to prolong NPO Fund. More details to follow.
  • 30/09: FMA notified EBA of private moratorium developed by federal branch Banks and Insurances of WKO and Austrian credit institutions. EBA included it in the list of EU notified moratoria. Find more info in the letter by FMA informing WKO and advising on requirements for moratoria to be conform with EBA guidelines and their treatment as regards forbearance and default.
  • 30/09: support fund program for artists endowed with another EUR 5 Mio, amounting to a sum total of EUR 10 Mio in funds.
  • 24/09: Austrian parliament passed draft legislation aimed at extending the statutory moratorium until 31/01/21 (as regards consumer loans) on 23/09(find more info here; find the draft here)and assigned it to the Judicial Committee of the Federal Council. The draft legislation also provides for:
    • the suspension of the duty to file for bankruptcy due to over-indebtedness to be extended until 30/01/21, if the over-indebtedness occurred between 01/03/20 and 31/01/21.
    • The exemption re equity substituting loans to be extended until 31/01/21: certain loans not to be deemed equity substituting if granted by shareholders to their company for no more than 120 days from 05/04 until 31/01/21 and for which the company has not provided a pledge or comparable security from its assets
  • 08/09: parallel federal bond auction by OeKB (find the result here);
  • 07/08: amendments to guidelines for NPO support published in federal law gazette - (find the guidelines here), excluding i.a. NPOs which match the criteria of company in difficulty (EU-definition), if they pursue an economic activity.  
  • 07/07: support fund program announced for artists - grants amounting up to EUR 1000,- over a maximum of 6 months. Guideline regulating eligibility criteria, application etc. to follow. Act regulating verification of support measures amended accordingly to encompass support fund for artists (find the amendments here). Procedure to be executed via platform for social insurance scheme for self-employed artists.
  • 03/07:  guidelines for NPO support fund regulating i.a. purpose, eligibility and procedure published in federal law gazette - entry into force on 06/07 (find the guidelines here).
  • 02/07: grant scheme amounting EUR 2,000.- for enterprises who employ and keep apprentices after their first month - detailed guidelines to follow (find more info here).
  • 02/07-03/07:
    • support measures enacted in form of grants amounting EUR 1 bn (in total) by federal government for investments and projects by Austrian municipalities (in force as of 01/07, find more details here, find the guidelines here);
    • extension of statutory moratorium for payments under loan agreements until 31/10 in force (find the amendment here). The Judicial Committee had ascertained (09/06) previously that the extension is in line with the relevant EBA guidelines, preventing for credit-rates to be designated with forbearance status.
    • exemption re equity substituting loans extended until 31/10: certain loans not to be deemed equity substituting if granted by shareholders to their company for no more than 120 days from 05/04 until 31/10 and for which the company has not provided a pledge or comparable security from its assets (find the amendment here).
  • 17/06: NPO support fund set up and endowed with EUR 700 Million for charitable entities of all sectors (sport, art, culture etc.). Procedure to be executed via aws (find the act here). Act regulating verification of support measures amended accordingly to encompass NPO support fund.
  • 17/06: Due to EU-COM designating marketable export risks as non-marketable risks, OeKB may grant export guarantees for direct deliveries and services to EU countries and certain OECD countries (find more info here).
  • 12/06: Ministry of Finance announces a moratorium as well as amendments to the grants for fixed cost for particularly concerned sectors.
  • 29/05: proposal regarding the extension of statutory moratorium until 31/10 submitted to the Austrian parliament (find the proposal here). 
  • 26/05: OeKB – credit funds program extended to EUR 3 billion for Austrian based export companies.

  • 05/04: Statutory moratorium for loans or similar debt instrument enacted (find more info here):

    • Postponement of the due date of payments of consumer credit agreements and credit agreements with micro-enterprises, concluded before 15/03 and maturing between 01/04 and 30/06.
    • Limitation of interest for late payment and exclusion of collection costs.
    • No obligation to pay an agreed contractual penalty if debtor is in delay.
  • 05/04: ABBAG (the State-entity that was also instrumental in the financial crisis) entrusted with implementing the corona crisis fund now endowed with EUR 28 billion. COFAG, a newly founded subsidiary entity entrusted with implementing the corona relief fund (see here; for details see our new legal insight).
  • 31/03: OeKB – announces parallel federal bond auction on 7th April 2020.
  • 25/03: Liquidity support for companies by the Republic of Austria currently up to EUR 38 billion. Framework for measures still needs to be aligned to a certain extent (for an overview over support measures, check out our legal insight).
  • 16/03: OeKB –credit funds program of EUR 2 billion for Austrian based export companies, which can apply for a credit line of 10 percent (large companies) or 15 percent (SMEs) of their export turnover with an individual maximum limit of EUR 60 million (find details on the OeKB website)

 

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2 Capital Markets

  • 07/10: Having consulted the ECB, FMA declares that COVID-19 constitutes an exceptional circumstance that justifies the exclusion of certain risk positions in the calculation of the debt ratio pursuant to Art 500b CRR. The FMA therefore also allows the less significant institutions (LSI) under its direct supervision to exclude the risk positions vis-à-vis the central bank for a limited period of time until 27/06/21 (find more info here).
  • 18/09: ESMA has prolonged its decision of 16/03 to temporarily require the holders of net short positions in shares traded on a EU regulated market to notify the national competent authority (ie FMA). if the position reaches or exceeds 0.1% of the issued share capital until 18/12.
  • 28/07: FMA, (following ECB, ESRB and EIOPA), urgently recommends that banks and insurances refrain from paying dividends and share buy-backs, and recommends pursuing a prudent renumeration policy.
  • 21/07: Amendment to the Ordinance on the Statement of Assets, Earnings and Risks relevant for credit institutions, whereas i.a. COVID-19 related info is to be reported on unconsolidated level (find the entire ordinance here).
  • 16/06: ESMA has prolonged the requirement for holders of net short positions in shares traded on a EU regulated market to notify the national competent authority (FMA) if the position reaches or exceeds 0.1% of the issued share capital for three more months (starting with 17/06).
  • 18/05: Ban by FMA of 18/03 to short-sell certain financial instruments lifted (find more info here).
  • 14/05: Minister of Finance i.a. empowered to contribute maximum amount of EUR 650 Mio. to EIB guarantee scheme (find the legislative amendment here).
  • 29/04: FMA to adapt the formula to calculate additional interest provision by amending the Maximum Interest Rate Regulation for Insurance Undertakings by 2024, so as to guarantee entitlements for classic life insurance products and to provide relief to insurance undertakings (find more info here). 
  • 15/04: Prohibition by FMA (of 18/03) extended until 18/05: to short-sell certain financial instruments. Ban is backed by a positive ESMA opinion (16/04) and is in place for one month, but can be repealed or extended (find the details on the extension and amendments here; find the amendments to the ordonnance in German here).
  • 09/04: Austrian statutory moratorium in line with EBA guidelines (find more details here).
  • 05/04: FMA empowered to extend certain deadlines either upon request or ex officio via ordinance (see here). Moreover, alterations to deadlines in administrative procedures (e.g. suspension from 22/03 until 30/04 and break until 30/04), pertaining i.a. to FMA deadlines and (notification-) deadlines for the beneficial owner register.
  • 03/04: Law to be passed prohibiting companies receiving state aid to pay out dividends for one year and reducing manager bonuses by half compared to the previous year.
  • 03/04: FMA, (following EIOPA), urgently recommends insurance companies to refrain from paying dividends and share buy-backs.
  • 27/03: FMA, (following ECB), urgently recommends that banks refrain from paying dividends and share buy-backs.
  • 18/03: Prohibition by FMA to short-sell certain financial instruments. Ban in place for one month, but can be repealed or extended (find the ordonnance in German here).

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3 Employment

3.1 Early retirement part-time

  • Early retirement part-time employees are allowed to continue the subsidized originally agreed part-time work if their employment relationship was discontinued during the COVID-19-crisis but restarted no later than 30/09.

3.2 Corona-short-time work

  • In case of economic difficulties related to COVID-19, short-time work subsidies can be applied for at the Labour Market Authority ("Arbeitsmarktservice"- AMS);
  • Reduction of average working time down to 10% during short-time work (up to 6 months). Reduction to 0 hours possible for a certain time as long average of 10% is met;
  • Short-time work subsidy of up to 80-90 % of the employee's net remuneration (the subsidy is capped at EUR 5,370 gross);
  • Short-time work subsidy also includes the employer's social security contributions;
  • Ban on termination of employment contracts during short-time work + one month afterwards (exemptions apply).

3.3 Special care time

  • If schools or kindergartens are closed due to authority measures, the employer may grant special care time to its employees. Special care time is limited to those employees (i) who are not necessary for the continuity of business operations, (ii) who have no further entitlement for absence of work due to child care and (iii) who have to take care of their children below age 14.
  • Special care time also applies to those employees that have to take care of either (i) disabled persons if facilities for disabled persons are also closed due to authority measures, or (ii) other persons in need of care or personal assistance if their care/assistance is no longer guaranteed due to Covid-19.
  • Special care time can be granted up to three weeks from the beginning of the official closure of schools/kindergartens/disabled persons facilities. The employer is entitled to compensation by the Austrian government of 1/3 of the remuneration paid to employees during special care time.
  • Deadline for application: The claim for compensation must be submitted to the federal accounting agency within six weeks from the day the authority measures (closure of schools/kindergartens) are lifted.

3.4 Works councils & shop agreements

  • Extension of mandate for works councils that would lapse between 16/03 and 31/10 until election of a new works council after 31/10.
  • Shop agreements for corona-short-time-work can stipulate regulations for consumption of holiday entitlements or time-credits.
  • Suspension of deadline for the challenge of ordinary terminations or dismissals until 30/04.

3.5 Employment Contracts

  • Stipulation that governmental measures are not a force majeure with regards to employment relationships.
  • If the employer is affected by governmental orders related to the COVID-19 crisis, the employer may request employees to consummate holiday entitlements or time-credits.
  • Suspension of deadlines for the enforcement of entitlements until 30/04.

3.6 Work accidents

  • Accidents occurring while working from home (home office) are considered as work accidents.

3.7 Release from work duty with continued payment

  • Employees considered at high risk as regards Covid-19 are entitled to be relieved from the obligation to perform work with continued payment.
  • Procedure: High-risk employees are individually informed by the Austrian Public Health Insurance Institution. In this case and after an individual risk assessment, the physician may issue a respective certificate to the employee. Alternatively, physicians may issue a respective certificate to the employee without the prior information of the Austrian Public Health Insurance Institution if the criteria of a high-risk employee are met.
  • There is no entitlement to release from work duty if either (i) the employee may work from home (home office) or (ii) contagion of Covid-19 may be excluded with the highest certainty due to appropriate measures at the workplace.
  • The termination of employment due to the release from work duty may be challenged in court.
  • The employer is entitled to compensation by the Austrian government for the remuneration paid to employees, respective tax contributions and social insurance contributions during the release from work duty.
  • Deadline for application: The claim for compensation must be submitted to the Public Health Insurance Institution within six weeks after the end of the release from work duty.

3.8 Tax-benefits for allowances and bonuses

  • Allowances and bonuses additionally and exclusively paid due to the Covid-19 crisis are tax free up to EUR 3,000.
    1. 3.9 Construction workers
  • Certain surcharges for employers do not apply during 16/03 until 15/5.
  • Agreement between labor organizations and employer representatives of construction industry upon measures for workers' health protection on building sites

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4 Real Estate

4.1 Shops

  • Minister of health may issue ordinances prohibiting to enter certain business premises for the acquisition of goods and services and all kinds of places to work and building sites.
  • With ordinance minister of health prohibited to enter customer areas of business premises for the acquisition of goods and services and restaurants with several exceptions for goods and services required for day-to-day life. Furthermore, shops that serve the sale, production, repair and processing of goods are excepted if the customer area inside is no larger than 400 m2 (in shopping centres the customer area of all shops must be added together for the limit of 400 m2 if they are entered via the mall - only shops that can be entered from outside, i.e. not via the mall, and have a customer area of up to 400 m2 may open there).
  • In all shops that are allowed to open, masks must be worn by employees and customers (exception: children under the age of six) and a minimum distance of 1 m must be maintained.
  • Minister of health may issue ordinances prohibiting to enter certain areas.
  • With ordinance minister of health prohibited to enter public areas with several exceptions for ways to cover basic needs of life, help others, go to work, go to shops which are allowed to open and for recreation

4.2 Offices

  • Minister of health may issue ordinances prohibiting to enter certain business premises for the acquisition of goods and services and all kinds of places to work and building sites.
  • With ordinance minister of health exempted prohibition to enter public areas in order go to work if at the place of work it can be assured that a minimum distance of 1 m is kept if health risk cannot be minimized by other measures.

4.3 Building Sites

  • Minister of health may issue ordinances prohibiting to enter certain business premises for the acquisition of goods and services and all kinds of places to work and building sites.
  • With ordinance minister of health exempted prohibition to enter public areas in order go to work if at the place of work it can be assured that a minimum distance of 1 m is kept if health risk cannot be minimized by other measures. Labor organizations and representatives of construction industry have agreed on which measures are necessary to fulfil these legal requirements after Austrian government has made it clear that it will not follow the request of labor organizations to order the shut-down of all building sites (except for emergency measures).

4.4 Hotels

  • With ordinance minister of health prohibited to enter restaurants with the exception for restaurants which are just open to hotel guests.
  • Governors of Kärnten, Salzburg, Tirol and Vorarlberg have issued ordinances on 26/03 that hotels have to be closed either completely or for tourists.
  • Minister of health issued ordinance that hotels may not be entered for recreation and leisure activities, but may host guests for business purposes.

4.5 Lease contracts on apartments

  • If the tenant of an apartment does not pay a rent due in the period from 01/04 to 30/06, because his economic capacity has been significantly impaired as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic, the landlord may not terminate the lease. The landlord may not claim the arrears until 31/12 or cover them from a deposit.
  • Notwithstanding Section 29 MRG (which provides for a minimum extension period of three years), a fixed-term lease for an apartment which expires after 30/03 and before 01/07 may be extended in writing until 31/12 or for a shorter period.
  • An eviction execution must be postponed for the time of the CORONA-19 restrictions on movement of people at the request of the obligor without the imposition of a security deposit if the apartment is indispensable to satisfy the urgent housing needs of the obligor and the persons living with him in the common household, unless the eviction is indispensable to avert serious personal or economic disadvantages for the creditor enforcing the eviction.

4.6 Deadlines

  • Prescription periods are suspended from 22/03 until 30/04 – start of prescription period and re-start of already running prescription periods 01/05.

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5 Tax & Duties

5.1 Income Tax

  • 02/04: As of 01/03, grants from COVID-19-Krisenbewältigungsfonds, Härtefallfonds, Corona-Krisenfonds and all grants from the federal states, municipalities and other statutory bodies are exempt from (corporate) income tax.
  • 02/04: Commuters allowances and specific allowances and supplements of employees continue to be taxed preferentially despite the fact that the employees are currently working in home offices.
  • 02/04: Allowances and bonus payments which are additionally paid due to the COVID 19 crisis are tax exempt up to EUR 3,000 in 2020.
  • Representation of interests which are provided for the management of the COVID 19 crisis situation.
  • An application for reduction of advance tax payments of income and corporate income tax for 2020 is possible. Accrued interest on the subsequent assessment of income or corporation tax for 2020 would cease to apply.
  • On request, tax payments for 2019 may be deferred to 30/09 or paid in instalments within the period April to September 2020. The responsible tax office might waive the deferral interest on request of the taxpayer.
  • Requests may be filed exceptionally by email (up to 31/05 at the latest) to: corona@bmf.gv.at.; after 31/05 filing must again be made via FinanzOnline.

5.2 VAT

  • According to the information provided, VAT prepayments may be deferred without interest to 30/09 or paid in instalments within the period April to September 2020.
  • Requests may be filed exceptionally by email (up 31/05 at the latest) to: corona@bmf.gv.at.; after 31/05 filing must again be made via FinanzOnline.

5.3 Stamp Duties

  • Retroactive exemption from stamp duties and federal administrative charges for all writings and official acts caused by measures in response to the crisis.
  • 02/04: Transactions that are necessary measures regarding COVID 19 crisis (including restructuring of companies; e.g. sureties, security assignments…) are exempt from Austria stamp duty.

5.4 Alcohol duty

  • Alcohol duty will be refunded on application if the alcohol is used to produce disinfectants.

5.5 Federal Fiscal Code and Financial Criminal Law

  • Extended deadline for filing tax returns: tax returns for the year 2019 (Income Tax and Corporate Income Tax and VAT) must be filed until 31th August 2020 (not 31 th  June 2020).
  • Late payment fees will not be levied if the specific deadline was not met before 1st September 2020.
  • Deadlines for appeals, submission of applications, and for revocation, which were still open on 16/03, will be suspended until 30/04; these deadlines will begin again as from this date. This also applies to Austria Financial Criminal Law.  Exceptions regarding the suspension may be made in specific cases. An explanatory regulation will be provided for by the Austrian Financial Ministry.
  • The suspension also applies on deadlines regarding the Austrian Constitutional and the Austrian Federal Administrative Court.

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6 Corporate

6.1 Suspension of time limits

  • 05/04: Annual financial statements can be drawn up until September 2020, in case the company is not able to prepare it until May 2020.
  • 05/04: Time limit for the submission of annual financial statements to the commercial register is extended to a period of 12 months from the beginning of the financial year.
  • 05/04: Time limits for the notification of the beneficial owner suspended if the time limit had not expired by the end of 16/03 or if the beginning of the period falls within the period from 16/03 to the end of 30/04. The periods begin to run anew on 01/05 (see here).
  • 21/03: Suspension of the nine-month disclosure period for annual financial statements until 30/04. In addition, suspension of the two-month period for the imposition of repeated penalties in commercial register proceedings.

6.2 General meetings

  • 08/04: Separate ordinance and decree for virtual meetings published regulating the details for virtual meetings (see here and here).
  • 22/03: Associations can postpone a meeting in which more than 50 persons are entitled to participate until the end of 2021.
  • 22/03: Deadline for annual general meetings of a limited liability companies and cooperatives is to be extended until 31/12.
  • 22/03: Statutory extension of deadlines for annual general meetings overrides articles of associations and similar corporate documents.
  • Cancellation of supervisory board meetings until 30/04 is no violation of mandatory corporate law.
  • 21/03: Virtual shareholder and board meetings and other forms of decision-making (e.g. written votes) have been allowed. Details to be set in a separate ordinance.
  • 21/03: Deadline for annual general meetings of a stock corporation is to be extended until 31/12.

6.3 Restriction on dividends and manager bonuses

  • Companies may not pay a dividend if they have received a funding from COFAG (see Point 12.1.6 of the Annex of the respective Regulation here).

6.4 Notary

  • 05/04: Notarial acts and notarial certifications can be executed by using electronic communication until 31/12 (see here).

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7 Competition

7.1 Deadlines (see also here)

  • Phase 1 for all filings submitted on 23/03 or later will only begin on 01/05 (end of phase 1 29/05). Requests for prolongation and early closing are still possible.
  • Phase 1 for filings pending as per 22/03 will not be affected by the prolongation.
  • Pending phase 2 reviews or reviews requested until 30/04 will only start (anew) on 01/05.

7.2 Hearings & Meetings

  • All authority and court hearings and meetings are postponed until further notice.

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8 Courts

 

8.1 Administrative

  • Procedural rules /deadlines
    • Pending deadlines will be stopped and start anew on 01/05
    • New deadlines that will be triggered until 30/04 will only start to run on 01/05
  • Hearings
    • Until 31/12, the courts may conduct oral hearings and hearings without the personal presence of the parties or their representatives, using appropriate technical means of communication for the transmission of words and images, and take evidence without the conditions of Section 227 of the Code of Civil Procedure being met.
      • Motions for this are admissible from any person who participates/is to participate in the proceedings. If none of the persons has no suitable technical means of communication, the temporary absence from the hearing can be requested.
      • A signature on the minutes is not required.
      • A list of costs can be submitted electronically or by e-mail until the end of the working day following the hearing.
  • Service of Documents
    • Delivery by deposit together with possible written or verbal notification of such deposit, is – as a rule- sufficient for effective service.

 

8.2 Criminal

  • Procedural law / deadlines
    • Pending deadlines will be stopped and start anew on 01/05
    • New deadlines that will be triggered until 30/04 will only start to run on 01/05
    • Prescription periods are suspended until 30/04.
  • Court hearings
    • Apart from by audiovisual means, oral hearings etc. may only be conducted if absolutely necessary until further notice.
  • Service of Documents
    • Delivery by deposit together with possible written or verbal notification of such deposit, is – as a rule- sufficient for effective service.

8.3 Civil

See here for a detailed overview.

  • Procedural law / deadlines
    • Pending deadlines which had not expired on 22/03 will be stopped and start anew on 01/05 (not applicable to e.g. delivery deadlines e.g. the payment period mentioned in a judgment);
    • New deadlines that will be triggered until 30/04 will only start to run on 01/05;
    • Limitation periods and periods for bringing an action before the courts are (only) suspended from 22/03 to 30/04 (e.g. actions for disturbance of possession, termination or dismissal, against the decision of a social insurance institution [e.g. nursing allowance, invalidity or disability pension, equalisation supplement, etc.]).
  • Court hearings
    • Apart from by audiovisual means, oral hearings etc. may only be conducted if absolutely necessary until further notice.
  • Service of Documents
    • Delivery by deposit together with possible written or verbal notification of such deposit, is – as a rule - sufficient for effective service.

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9 Healthcare

9.1 COVID-19 Measures

  • News:
    • Gastronomy:
      • new restricted opening hours: 6 AM to 01 AM (following day);
      • No restrictions for groups (count of people);
      • No mouth-nose-protection;
    • Events:
      • Weddings and funerals with more than 100p are permissible;
      • New rules for trade and public exhibitions, extra-curricular youth education and youth work, supervised holiday camps;
    • Travelling:
      • Railway transport to/from Italy resumed.
  • No more "lock-down", no sector is closed;
  • Public places/ client areas/ mass transport/ rope and rack railways, coaches and excursion boats:
    • 1m safety distance if people do not live together;
    • Mouth-nose-protection in pharmacies, facilities for the practice of religion, work places and open markets; not necessary when seated a designated spots;
    • Restricted opening hours for gastronomy: 6 AM to 01 AM;
  • Transportation (private/ training and further training trips, taxis and taxi-like operations and on board aircraft which are not used for mass transport):
    • Two people per seating row; mouth-nose-protection;
  • Events:
    • Public events (>100 persons) are generally prohibited, except:
      • Weddings and funerals with more than 100p are permissible;
      • Trade and public exhibitions are allowed with the approval of the local district administrative authority;
      • Extra-curricular youth education and youth work, supervised holiday camps are allowed;
    • As of 01/07: events with assigned and marked seating are permitted in enclosed rooms with up to 250p and in open-air areas with up to 500p;
    • As of 01/08: events with assigned and marked seats are permitted in enclosed rooms with up to 500p and in open-air areas with up to 750p;
      • With up to 1,000p and in open-air areas with up to 1,250p with the approval of the local district administrative authority;
    • Precautionary restrictions (1m distance, mouth-nose-protection) apply;
    • Exceptions: Events in the private living area, for the practice of religion, meetings under the Assembly Act 1953; meetings for professional purposes if these are necessary to maintain professional activity, of organs of political parties, of organs of legal persons, under the Labour Constitution Act - ArbVG, Federal Law Gazette 22/1974; entering theatres, concert halls and arenas, cinemas, variety theatres and cabarets by multi-track motor vehicles;
  • Travelling:
    • Mandatory mouth/nose protection;
    • Travel warnings for 21 countries (read here);
    • Temporary reintroduction of border control and restriction of border traffic; controls lifted for Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia;
    • Landing prohibition for airplanes flying in from Belarus, China, France, Iran, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, UK, Ukraine, until 30/06 (read here);
    • No travelling restrictions for people with their habitual residence in Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary or Slovenia when travelling from/to one of these countries;
    • Mandatory 14-day home quarantine or negative SARS-CoV-2 test for people entering the country without a habitual residence in Austria (read here & here); No quarantine when travelling from/to Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary or Slovenia;
  • Extensions of law enforcement entitlements, particularly by allowing law enforcement to impose fines on the spot:
    • EUR 25: missing mouth-nose-protection
    • EUR 50: other violations of the COVID-19-measures-Act, prohibition of events and gatherings, monitoring of certain persons with COVID-19 and traffic restrictions for residents of certain localities.

9.2 Medical Equipment

  • See here for our summary of CEE wide measures.
  • No certification according to the Medical Devices Act or the Machinery Marketing and Notification Act is required for mouth-nose-quick-masks; obligatory note that mask is not certified (for three months).
  • Authorization for Ministry of Health to provide for exceptions for clinical evaluation and performance assessment of medical devices.

9.3 Medicinal products

  • New Ordinance will enter into force on 01/04 – in the event of a restriction of the availability of a prescription-only medicinal product in Austria, the product in question must be reported. For details please check out our legal insight;
  • For the duration of the pandemic, it is possible to get medication prescribed without a doctor's visit. Specifically, the service works for panel doctors who are connected to the ELGA e-medication system (for others by fax to the pharmacy).

9.4 Clinical trials

  • Beside European guideline on the management of clinical trials during the COVID-19 pandemic (read here) regulations by the BASG regarding communication with the Federal Office, supply of study medication, monitoring activities at trial sites, audits of investigational sites (read here).
  • Authorization for Ministry of Health to provide for exceptions for clinical trials.

9.5 Health professionals

  • For the duration of a pandemic, the five-years-training period shall be suspended; Members of the profession who have already been engaged in activities of a specialisation for up to five years and have not successfully completed the corresponding special training or specialisation are entitled to engage in activities of this specialisation beyond the restrictive competences.
  • Epidemic doctors under section 27(1) of the Epidemics Act shall be treated in the same way as public health officers.
  • Higher medical-technical services: For the duration of a pandemic, persons who are not entered in the Register of Health Professions may also be called upon to carry out the activities of a high-level medical-technical service under certain circumstances only in the context of combating the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) agent (until 31/03/2021 at the latest).
  • The field of activity of paramedics includes blood collection from the capillary to determine antibodies in the context of a pandemic.

9.6 Personal protective equipment

  • Guidelines on reprocessing of respiratory protective masks for hospitals were issued (read here);
  • Guidelines on reprocessing of respiratory protective masks for the health sector were issued (read here).

9.7 Hospitals and health resorts

Empowerment of state legislation for implementing provisions.

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10 Insolvency

10.1 Insolvency

(see also item 1.4. "Banking & Finance and other support measures" above)

  • 03/07: suspension of obligation to file for bankruptcy due to over-indebtedness extended to 31/10 (find the amendment here);

  • 05/04: duty to file for bankruptcy due to over-indebtedness suspended until 30/06, if the over-indebtedness occurred after 01/03. Exemption from liability of board members of a combined stock corporation for payments made during over-indebtedness between 01/03 and 30/06 (find more detail in our new legal insight).

  • 21/03: Obligatory deadline to file for bankruptcy has been extended to 120 days after insolvency, provided that the insolvency was caused (at least in part) by Covid-19 (for details please check out our legal insight).
  • 21/03 Reorganization plan - suspension of the legal consequences of arrears: a written notice sent between 22/03 and 30/04 with regard to a due obligation does not entail the legal consequences of arrears (e.g. proportionate reinstatement of claim; omission of partial debt relief).
  • 21/03 social security contributions - contributions due for March, April and May are not to be collected; no insolvency applications are to be filed for non-payment of social security contributions already due.

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11 Insurance

FMA and EIOPA urge (re)insurers to temporarily suspend all discretionary dividend distributions and share buy backs aimed at remunerating shareholders.

Not country specific measures: See here for details on EIOPA recommendations for supervisory authorities and here for insurers and intermediaries in contact with consumers.

In addition EIOPA extended several of their deadlines (details here).

 

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12 Intellectual Property

12.1 Procedural law / deadlines before the Austrian IP Office

  • Administrative deadlines still pending on 16/03 have been interrupted until 30/04 and started anew on 01/05; the AT IPO may have also set an appropriate new deadline (starting from 01/05) instead (see here for the regulation by the president of the AT IPO);
  • Statutory deadlines (e.g. opposition or priority deadlines, except deadlines pursuant to the Patent Office Fees Act, thus for payment of annuity or renewal fees and deadlines pursuant to EU law) have been interrupted between 16/03 and 30/04 (i.e. such period is not included in the deadlines; see here for the Federal Act on Accompanying Measures for COVID-19 in the area of industrial property);
  • Deadlines for appeals before the Higher Regional Court (OLG) Vienna and the Austrian Supreme Court (OGH) in proceedings originating from the AT IPO (not lapsed by 22/03) have been interrupted until 30/04 and started anew on 01/05 (see here for the Federal Act on Accompanying Measures for COVID-19 in the Judiciary).

    See here for further information on deadline extensions.

12.2 Hearings & Meetings before the Austrian IP Office

  • Hearings are in general held on a minimal basis; in person meetings (e.g. for consultation purposes) are rendered only by appointment;
  • Services and consultations are also provided via video-calls (e.g. Skype).

12.3 Service of Documents at the Austrian IP Office

  • As of 01/07 the physical mailbox located at the AT IPO closed permanently;
  • Filings shall preferably be submitted electronically (see here for the AT IPO's online services) or – if not available (i.e. not feasible, appropriate or reasonable) – by mail;
  • In person submissions are possible during opening hours at the customer centre (i.e. from Monday to Friday between 9 am and noon).

 

For further information please see here.

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13 Telecom & Data Protection

13.1 Telecoms

  • Obligations to telecoms providers to take care for mass alert (e.g. regional access prohibitions) via SMS upon governmental order.
  • Obligations to telecoms providers to provide traffic and location data for evaluation whether people comply with quarantine orders.

13.2 Data Protection

  • Revisions of applicable laws to facilitate health data / disease reporting data to competent health and state authorities.
  • Introducing an allowance for a city major to receive name and address data from the municipality authority about individuals living under isolation order to ensure proper supply to that individual.
  • Although not being an explicit revision of data protection law, a revision of the Austrian Social Insurance Act (ASVG) will have significant data protection impact: In a stepwise approach individuals at health risk shall be entitled to ask for leave in job absence on full pay. This shall be achieved by first defining the Corona relevant health risks through an medical expert group. Once those risks have been defined an individual will be attributed to such risk group through the state social insurance agency. Once attributed, the individual can ask his health care professional to confirm his affiliation to that risk group and then provide this confirmation to his employer. In other words, the employer learns about his employee's health status. Any accompanying data protection provisions are missing meaning this is quite a privacy intrusive regulation with no mitigating data protection provisions. Employers will have to extensively interpret and apply the GDPR principles.

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Kindly note that the summaries on this page are for information purposes only and do not take into account the specifics of a certain situation. The information is not designed to substitute and cannot substitute legal advice tailored to your needs. It is made available strictly on a non-reliance basis. Also, some of the addressed topics might be subject to short-term changes. 
 

This article is part of our coronavirus-focused legal updates – visit our coronavirus infocorner to get more info!