Christoph Moser, Partner at Weber & Co., says that Austria is not currently facing any changes that would equal the impact of the GDPR. Instead, Moser reports, the current government in Austria is focusing on implementing the measures that were promised during the run-up to the country’s 2017 elections, including regulations related to rules for employees. Among the most prominent examples of this, Moser says, is the new rule allowing 12-hour workdays that was introduced this summer. The change according to Moser, "is significant and caused political debates about whether a 12-hour work day was justified, as well as protests.
Ultimately, Moser says, “the introduction of the 12 hours working day was aligned with Austrian reality and legal requirements.” According to him, “people in so many jobs were working 12 hours a day without legal justification." Of course, the new rule is not mandatory — employers cannot pressure their employees to work more — but is instead is supposed to be based on agreements between employees and employers.
Although Moser recognizes the potential risk that employers might pressure their employees and force them to agree to worker longer than they wish, he favors the new approach. “The daily routine of many jobs in the last ten or twenty years has shifted towards long working days," he says. “It is necessary to give it legal back-up."
In terms of the business climate in Austria, Moser points to an increasing number of capital market transactions and IPOs. “The market is still doing well,” he says, "even though the stock exchange here, like everywhere in Europe, has faced volatility in the last couple of weeks, you feel there is still the need to invest money in shares."
Moser also describes an active real estate sector in Austria, which continues to be a "prominent area” for law firm business. "The money is still flowing into that market, and especially in the prime locations in Vienna there are many construction projects happening,” he says. As a result, he says, prices are soaring in the upper segment, and he wonders "how long can that be prolonged and when will the natural end come to it, if people who are not millionaires cannot afford to buy it!?"