Academic Staff Council

General Working Conditions

Our work mainly focusses on:

  • Employment conditions at WU

  • General health and safety protection

  • Working hours for academic staff

  • Opportunities to take sabbaticals

  • Mobility issues

  • Respectful conduct at the workplace

  • Employee surveys

  • Data protection

We also provide a point of contact for those affected by conflicts at work and bullying.

Employment conditions at WU

Employment terms and conditions at WU do not all have the same legal framework (details of the various legal frameworks see here). The national Collective Bargaining Agreement for University Staff forms the basis of a large number of employee contracts. Other faculty members are employed as civil servants. The Academic Staff Council represents both of these employee groups.

Although we do not officially represent those employees who work on a freelance basis, we do try additionally to reflect their needs in negotiations on working conditions, especially for freelance teachers, and accordingly include such workers in our information channels. You can find further specific information on freelance employment conditions here (in German).

The employment groups we represent are split up into a large variety of employment categories at WU. The main employment categories are Teaching and Research Assistants, Teaching and Research Associates, Project Staff, Lecturers, Senior Lecturers, Senior Scientists, Assistant Professors (tenure and non-tenure track), Associate Professors and Professors. Most of these employment groups are characterized by temporary contracts, which raises many challenges that we put a strong focus on. In the last few years two new tenure track post-doc categories have been established, for which the contracts are based either on a so-called qualification agreement, or a development agreement. A guideline was published on this topic in July 2017, which we have responded to (in German) here.

The structure of WU's personell is laid out in the Personnel Development Plan. The last major revision was concluded in June 2018. The Academic Staff Council was involved in this process and we did our utmost to incorporate the suggestions and concerns raised in meetings with faculty so as to best represent your needs and wishes. A report on one such staff meetings can be found here.

The Personnel Development Plan includes information on how many tenure track positions are available in each Department. This list was updated in June 2019 and published in the WU-bulletin on 3 July 2019 (see here). 

An issue of particular interest for those faculty members whose contracts are regulated by the Collective Bargaining Agreement for University Staff is the annual round of national collective bargaining in which changes both to pay and to general terms and conditions are negotiated. We took a closer look at the collective bargaining negotiations for 2020 in our Newsletter 6/2019. In January 2020 we held a joint event with the Administrative Staff Council on the topic of “Salary development in 10 years of collective bargaining agreement”. Information on the 2024 salary settlement can be found here)

Similar to almost all other aspects of our daily lives, the Corona pandemic has had a strong influence on the working conditions at WU in recent years. The topic of working from home (teleworking/mobile work) has become a strong focus of discussion for all employee groups. According to the WU’s policy document (WUPOL) “Relaxed On-Site Requirements” which was implemented in October 2021, academic staff are allowed to work from home. However, this WUPOL does not constitute teleworking in a strict legal sense (as defined in § 2h AVRAG), which means it is not possible to receive a so-called “home office” allowance. We have commented on the contents of this WUPOL here.

The 2021 amendment to the Universities Act was another development which affected working conditions at universities. You can read about the significant changes resulting from this, as well as a statement submitted by the Academic Staff Council regarding the legislative process (in German) here. A summary of information for those affected faculty members who have already been employed at WU and who want to establish a further contractual relationship with WU after 30 September 2021 can be found here.(in German)

General health and safety protection

By participating regularly in the meetings of the “Arbeitsschutzausschuss” (Health and Safety Committee), the Academic Staff Council is able to represent the interest of all WU employees regarding healthy and safety matters on the campus, and in so doing ensure that legal standards are met.

If necessary, we are of course ready to raise issues directly  with the relevant responsible member of the Rector’s Council. This happened a few years ago, for instance, at the time when loose panelling was discovered on the LC building. A more recent example of our active intervention has been our involvement in the implementation of statutory Covid-19 regulations.

Your contact person:

Karin Burger-Ehrnhofer

Working hours in the academic field

For academic employees of Austrian universities, the Universities Act implements special regulations regarding working hours. Therefore, the general working time law doesn't apply to universities. The Academic Staff Council has repeatedly been highlighting these special regulations in recent years. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the regular working time for full time academic faculty is 40 hours per week. Each staff member is free to decide how these 40 hours are allocated to the working days of the week (if there are no important duties that require one’s presence at a specific time, e.g. meetings or teaching). The maximum working time must not exceed 13 hours per day and 60 hours per week. On average, the maximum working time per week must not exceed 48 hours over a twelve month period. For part-time employees, overtime must not exceed 10% of their contractual working hours (e.g. an employee with 30 contractual hours per week must not work more than 33 hours per week). Any overtime has to be compensated for with time in lieu (using a 1:1 ratio). Additionally, employees have the right to a half-hour long rest break after 6 hours of continuous work (which counts as part of the working time), a daily rest of 11 hours and a weekly rest of 36 hours.

Your contact person:

Karin Burger-Ehrnhofer

Sabbatical offers

The Collective Bargaining Agreement for University Staff gives academic faculty members (whose contracts are based on it) the right in principle (when certain conditions are met) to take sabbatical leave, but any such provisions must be agreed upon at university level by means of an operational agreement (negotiated with the Academic Staff Council). Such an agreement came into effect at WU on 30 September 2015. Since civil servants already enjoyed the legal right to take a sabbatical (§ 20a VBG, § 78e BDG) or go on research leave (§ 160 BDG), all employees at WU can now, in theory, arrange to take a sabbatical. A sabbatical is a temporary leave of absence from employment that can be individually arranged and can be agreed upon at WU at the employee's request (in addition to other possible forms for a leave of absence, such as a research sabbatical). If you are interested in the forms of sabbaticals available under the operational agreement, please continue reading here.

Your contact person:

Karin Burger-Ehrnhofer

Mobility issues

Many of our colleagues live outside Vienna and a number of them have to cover considerable distances to get to work. Access to up-to-date information on commuter subsidies and travel cost benefits is indispensable for such commuters and can be found in the Tax Book in Section III B (see Pendlerpauschale).

The issue of mobility is also of particular importance in achieving a climate-neutral university. In the autumn of 2019, the two WU Staff Councils collected initial ideas at various events which were dedicated to looking at how employee mobility and environmentally sustainable behaviour are connected. The findings of these events have already been presented in our newsletters (BR-Info 5/2019, BR-Info 6/2019, BR-Info 1/2020).

In this context, the travel-reducing effects of teleworking certainly cannot be ignored. Also, the increased online participation of events and conferences as well as possible changes to travel regulations (e.g., encouraging travel by train instead of by plane) are some important factors.

Additionally, the Academic Staff Council wants to negotiate job ticket and "job bike" benefits for WU employees.

Employee surveys

WU conducts employee surveys on a regular basis. Both of the WU Staff Councils were consulted at different stages of the projects to plan and carry out the surveys in 2014, 2017 and 2021 which included in particular the assessment of psychological stress at the workplace. Our goal was not only to critically monitor the surveys, but also to participate in the future implementation of the projects that emerged from the interpretations of the results.

The results from the most recent employee survey from autumn 2021 are available here.

The Academic Staff Council has also been involved in the ABI-Plus surveys carried out in recent years as part of the WU’s Wohlbefinden@WU (employee wellbeing) project. Our aim, shared by the WU as an employer, is to use these surveys as a way to identify and improve those areas where employees suffer from excessive workloads. More information on the Wohlbefinden@WU project can be found here as well as on the Intranet, where summaries of the two ABI-Plus surveys from October 2018 and March 2021 are also available.

Points of contact for those affected by conflicts at work and bullying

The members of our Staff Council are, of course, available at any time to offer advice in regard to conflict resolution. In addition to contacting them by e-mail or phone, we also offer weekly office hours.

Further contact points at WU can be found here.