Austria: The New Good Friday – Your "Personal Holiday"

Last Updated: 26 March 2019
Article by Tamara Freudemann and Oliver Walther

The recent ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the Good Friday regulation in the Austrian Labour Rest Act (Arbeitsruhegesetz, ARG) has triggered vehement discussions. In response, the parliamentary session of 27 February 2019 introduced a "personal holiday" for all with a view to achieving a legal situation in conformity with EU law.

The previous provision of Article 7 (3) ARG granted a paid holiday on Good Friday to members of the Protestant Church of Augsburg (Lutheran) and Helvetic (Reformed) Confessions, of the Old Catholic Church and of the United Methodist Church. If a member of any of these churches worked on a Good Friday, they were entitled to double pay, whereas employees of other (or no) religious confessions had to work normal hours rather than enjoying a paid holiday.

An employee who was not a member of any of the above churches felt discriminated against by this rule, referring to the Employment Equality Directive (2000/78/EC) and demanding double payment for working on Good Friday. The court of first instance rejected the claim, while the appellate court awarded the plaintiff double pay. The Supreme Court was concerned that the special entitlement for members of certain churches might be discriminatory and submitted the case to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling.

The ECJ found that Article 7 (3) AG constituted an act of direct discrimination on the grounds of religion. The court denied any justification for such discrimination because the ARG regulation at issue was not necessary to protect religious freedom. After all, the regulation grants employees who are members of any of the said churches a 24-hour leave from work on Good Friday while employees of other religions whose holidays do not concur with the ARG holidays may not leave their work in order to practise the religious rights pertaining to such holidays except with their employer's consent within the scope of the employer's duty of care. The relevant ARG provisions thus exceed what is necessary to compensate for an assumed discrimination and treat employees with comparable religious duties differently.

As regards the consequences, the ECJ noted that, for as long as legislators fail to ensure conformity with EU law, employers need to grant employees the right to a paid holiday on Good Friday provided that the latter have informed their employer of their desire not to work on Good Friday. Such employees thus are also entitled to double pay if the employer rejects their application not to work on Good Friday.

Legislators' response: Good Friday holiday is cancelled

In response to the ECJ judgment, a discussion ensued on several alternatives for achieving a non-discriminatory regulation. Proposals ranged from a "half" holiday to a public holiday for all on Good Friday.

The – highly disputed – decision arrived at completely cancels the previous Good Friday regulation. As of now, Good Friday is no longer a holiday, for anybody. Instead, the new Section 7a ARG allows all employees to take a day of their own choice off from their quota of paid holidays once every holiday year ("personal holiday"), provided that they inform the employer in writing at least three months in advance of the desired date. For 2019, a special regulation applies that employees can choose their personal holiday within three months of the new regulation entering into force and without regard to the deadline, on condition that they inform their employer not later than two weeks in advance.

The "personal holiday" may be consumed at any day of the year; no religious background is necessary. Nevertheless, it does not grant an additional holiday, but employees need to take one day of their own holiday quota.

If so asked by the employer, employees are free not to consume their personal holiday and work instead. In this case, employees still have a day off and can claim extra holiday pay in addition to the pay for their work. However, they cannot choose another personal holiday in the same holiday year.

Interference with the general collective bargaining agreement

By interfering with the general collective bargaining agreement applicable since 1952 (and several other collective bargaining agreements), legislators triggered irritated discussions: Section 33a (28) ARG now explicitly states that provisions in standards of collective rules which provide special Good Friday regulations only for employees who are members of one of the four churches are ineffective and no longer permissible. Whether this interference with the constitutional right to establish trade unions is permissible and will withstand the rulings of the ECJ and ECHR remains to be seen.

Open issues

The regulation providing for employees themselves to choose a paid day off (strangely enough written into the ARG) leaves several issues unsettled. Other than provided in the Austrian Paid Holiday Act, employers have little say regarding the choice of date. The question thus is how employers can ward off the abusive use of a "unilateral" right to take a day off, as would be the (extreme) case when all or a majority of employees take their personal holiday simultaneously so that operations would come to a standstill. It is also unclear whether employees can interrupt existing shift or employment schedules by their unilateral choice and how employers should fill up gaps in shifts. Moreover, the new regulation does not touch upon the Yom Kippur provision in the general collective bargaining agreement, so that this issue, which is identical with the Good Friday problem, can sooner or later be expected to find its way to the ECJ.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions