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In Austria, Good Friday is only a legal holiday for certain religious members. In its decision of 22 January 2019, the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) considered the Austrian regulation to be discriminatory.

Why is the decision important (from a labor law perspective)? Until now, only members of certain churches were entitled to a 24-hour rest period without loss of pay on Good Friday. Nevertheless, if they had to work, these services were compensated twice by means of the so-called "holiday surcharge". In its decision of 22 January 2019, the ECJ considered such a limitation of claims to the mentioned group of persons to be contrary to Union law. This differentiation is discrimination on the grounds of religion. The Austrian legislator is now required to act until the next Good Friday (19 April 2019).

What does this mean for employers? If the legislator does not adopt an equal regulation on time, the employer must enable all employees to have a holiday on Good Friday, as a matter of principle. However, the employer does not have to grant a holiday on its own initiative: Only those employees are entitled to a holiday, who have notified their wish in advance. Nonetheless, if they have to work, they are entitled to the "holiday surcharge". If the legislator fails to transpose the law in due time, state liability claims against the Republic of Austria for harmed employers could be conceivable.

How can we support you? An implementation is eagerly awaited, while the introduction of an additional holiday is very unlikely. We will keep you up to date in this regard and are happy to answer any questions you may have in the meantime.

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