Collective agreement

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The collective agreement is a written agreement within the framework of the Austrian social partnership . This is concluded between a representation of the interests of the employer and the employee side and is an essential part of labor law .

Traditionally, collective agreements include provisions on:

  • Minimum wages and basic salaries
  • Special payments (holiday allowance and Christmas remuneration )
  • Working time issues
  • Notice periods and dates.

For workers in particular, the latter regulations are often significantly better than the legal regulations of the General Civil Code or the Industrial Code of 1859 . For salaried employees, on the other hand, the Salaried Employees Act mostly provides better regulations, especially in labor law issues. In practice, collective agreements are concluded between the trade unions of the Austrian Federation of Trade Unions (ÖGB) and the trade organizations of the Chamber of Commerce .

Sections 2 to 21 of the Labor Constitution Act are the legal basis for collective agreements .

Concept and content of a collective agreement

The legal relationships between the parties to the collective agreement are regulated by collective agreements, as are the “mutual rights and obligations of employers and employees arising from the employment relationship” ( Section 2 ( 2) (2) ArbVG). Further possible contents can be found under § 2 Paragraph 2 Z 3 to 7 ArbVG.

The prescriptive part of the collective agreement has a normative effect ( Section 11 ArbVG), which means that the provisions of the collective agreement are directly legally binding for the employees and employers subject to it. The only exception to this is the contractual part that regulates the contract itself, for example the date of entry into force or the notice period for the collective agreement. If there is no information about the beginning of the validity period, the collective agreement will take effect on the day following the announcement in the official gazette of the Wiener Zeitung .

Each collective agreement is to be deposited with the Federal Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection and published in the official gazette of the Wiener Zeitung and published in the company ( Section 14 (3) ArbVG).

Corporations capable of collective bargaining

Collective agreements are written contracts that are concluded between a corporation on the employee side and a corporation on the employer side . Are capable of collective agreements according to §§ 4ff ArbVG

A precondition for the award of collective bargaining capacity by the Federal Unification Office is a corresponding economic importance, especially with regard to the number of members. In all cases (also with the statutory interest groups) the "independence of opponents" of the respective organization is an essential prerequisite for the collective bargaining capacity, that is, the organization must be clearly assigned to the employer side or the employee side. This independence of opponents is only given to a very limited extent with the medical associations , the bar associations and the notary associations . The collective bargaining capacity of these organizations is therefore disputed.

Section 6 ArbVG stipulates that the statutory interest groups are only entitled to conclude a collective agreement if no voluntary professional association has concluded a collective agreement. Therefore, in practice, the chambers of labor have never exercised their collective bargaining capacity. As a rule, collective agreements on the employee side are concluded exclusively by the Austrian Federation of Trade Unions.

The situation is different with employers: here - as far as they exist - the legal interest groups are active in practice, although here too the voluntary professional associations would have priority. The consequence of this is that because of the compulsory membership in the legal representation of interests, as a rule, all employers in an industry are members of a collective agreement. In conjunction with the effect of outsiders , this means that in this case all employment relationships are subject to the collective agreement.

Collective agreement membership and outsider effect

Employers and employees who are members of the relevant collective bargaining body are primarily members of the collective agreement in accordance with Section 8 ( 1) ArbVG.

Section 12 ArbVG stipulates that collective agreements also apply to employees who are not part of the employee representation if (only) the employer is a member of the collective agreement (“ outsider effect ”). This is often the case because on the employers' side the Chamber of Commerce or another legal interest group appears, for which membership is mandatory.

Graduated structure of the legal system in labor law

In the area of ​​labor law, collective agreements are classified according to a "tiered structure of the legal system" between the laws and ordinances and the works agreements:

  • Laws and Regulations
  • Collective agreement
  • Works agreements
  • Individual employment contract

The subordinate regulations in the tier structure may generally only contain deviations in favor of the employee (“ favourability principle ”) from the superordinate regulations . This is also called one-sided mandatory. In some cases, the higher-level regulations also allow deviations to the detriment of the employee (" mandatory provisions "), and sometimes the higher-level regulations do not allow any deviations at all. For collective agreements, these regulations are made in Section 3 ArbVG.

Legal basis

The collective contract law is the Labor Constitution Act and - - for the workers in the agriculture and forestry Agricultural Labor Act regulated. According to Section 1 (2) ArbVG, no collective agreements are provided for those members of the public service whose employment relationship is regulated by special service regulations (such as the Civil Service Service Act or the Contract Employee Act). Furthermore, Section 1 (2) ArbVG excludes home workers from its scope; For these, the Home Work Act provides for overall home work contracts that partially correspond to the collective agreements.

Importance of collective bargaining law

One of the most important aspects of collective bargaining law is that the bargaining agreement compensates for the asymmetry of power that exists on the labor market in an individual employment contract between the contracting parties in favor of the weaker contractual partner to be protected, the employee. In collective bargaining law itself there is no longer this special protection to the advantage of only one of two contracting parties.

Particularly due to the outsider effect of the collective agreements and the fact that legal interest groups, such as the chambers of commerce, are authorized to conclude collective agreements, collective agreements in Austria fulfill a strong regulatory function, as they usually require minimum wages and other minimum standards under labor law for all companies in a sector pretend.

With the autonomous right to conclude collective agreements, the state grants the corporations capable of collective agreements a scope for autonomy to develop the rules of their cooperation autonomously. The success of this system of social partnership is particularly evident in Austria in the comparably low number of strikes on a world scale .

See also


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