A claim for unfair dismissal can be made if the reason for dismissal was not one of a number of ‘fair reasons’ (e.g. conduct, capability, "some other substantial reason", statutory ban or redundancy).
Most employees need a particular length of service to bring a claim for unfair dismissal. At present this is two years’ service. However, all employees can bring a claim for unfair dismissal if the reason for dismissal is deemed to make the dismissal automatically unfair (e.g. for whistleblowing or for family reasons such as dismissals for reasons connected to pregnancy, parental leave, or requests for flexible working).
Even if the dismissal is deemed to be for a fair reason, to avoid a successful claim for unfair dismissal the employer must still follow a fair procedure and act reasonably in dismissing the employee.
If the reason for the dismissal involves discrimination against the employee (because of a protected characteristic such as sex, race, age or disability), employees may make a discrimination claim irrespective of their length of service.
Employees with two years of service have the right to request a written statement of reasons for dismissal. Employers must provide the statement within 14 days of the request.
Irrespective of length of service, employees dismissed during pregnancy or statutory maternity or adoption leave are automatically entitled to a written statement of reasons for dismissal without having to request it.
Generally, employers in Austria are not required to justify ordinary dismissals (Kündigungen). Nevertheless, they must observe prescribed notice periods and termination dates.
If an establishment employs five or more employees, however, these employees enjoy “General Protection against Dismissals”: an employee may challenge a dismissal if it has adverse effects on the individual’s personal life. In these cases, the employer must justify the dismissal for reasons related to employee capabilities, conduct or operational requirements if challenged by the employee.
Certain “vulnerable” employees enjoy additional “Special Protection against Dismissal” and may only be dismissed for one of several specific reasons, often only with the prior consent of competent authorities. These include women who are pregnant or who have recently given birth, parents on parental leave, works council members and employees formally classified as disabled persons.
Discriminatory dismissals or dismissals due to “illegal reasons” can also be challenged by employees.