Second-class workforce

Temporary work is rapidly gaining ground again

Temporary workers are not very optimistic about the futures of their companies, view their own rights in a negative light and are altogether unsatisfied with their jobs and their lives.

Whereas temporary employment was once intended to cover production peaks, it has nowadays become commonplace in many companies. Since 2010, personnel leasing has been rapidly gaining ground again. About 85,000 people in Austria are employed as temporary workers. Two thirds of them are men, and three quarters work in the trade, craft, or industrial sector. Temporary workers are leased out for 56 days on average.

Education is no safeguard against temporary employment

Almost half of the temporary workers have a migration background, 22 percent have only minimum compulsory schooling, 43 percent have completed an apprenticeship, and 29 percent have A levels or a university degree. This means: education is no safeguard against temporary employment.

Temporary workers are clearly less satisfied with their work than those with a regular gainful employment. In the past ten years, their Work Climate Index has fallen from 92 to 88 points. The average of all sectors is currently 109 points. This dissatisfaction is mainly caused by the people’s standing in the company: temporary workers frequently consider themselves as second-class workforce.

Dissatisfied with work ...

Not even half of the temporary workers are satisfied with the social attitude of the company towards their employees. Only seven out of ten are optimistic as regards the economic development of the company. Only about half of them are happy about the leadership of their superiors. And the relationship with colleagues is rated as satisfactory by only two thirds.

Not even half of them are happy about the creative scope, and only 39 percent about the options for participation in the job. Less than half view their own rights in a positive light. The same share are satisfied with their social standing in society. Among the total of employees in Austria, this share is more than two thirds.

... and with life altogether

One third of the temporary workers are satisfied with the opportunities for promotion and development - this ratio being 54 percent among permanent employees. Just a little more than half of them consider their own jobs as secure. 35 percent think that they will find an adequate new job in case of losing the old one. Altogether, this results in a low satisfaction with life. While 84 percent of the wage earners are satisfied with their lives, this holds true for only 52 percent of the temporary workers.


Employment rate of older workers on the rise

More than one third of the young employees and almost half of the older ones think that they will not be able to hang on until retirement.

While the employment rates of men and women in the age groups between 25 and 54 years are each higher than 80 percent, they clearly drop when it comes to older employees: 60 percent of the men and 43 percent of the women between 55 and 64 years of age are gainfully employed. The difference between the sexes is explained by the retirement age, which is (still) lower in case of women. Regardless of the sex, the employment rate in this age group climbed by 15 percent to 51 percent between 2007 and 2017. Once retired, only five percent of the people over 65 years continue working.

Where older people work

The sectors with the highest share of employees of the 55-plus generation are the real estate and housing sector, mining, as well as water supply and waste management, each featuring a share of 20 percent. Very close behind are public administration and the education sector, which are also “older” sectors, whereas the share of older employees is very low in the field of information and communication (seven percent), in the accommodation and catering sector (nine percent) and in the field of construction (ten percent).

The long road to retirement

While younger people tend to think that they will hardly be able to live on their pensions later on (see page 3), the older ones believe that they will not be able to hang on until the legal retirement age: currently, 45 percent of the employees 55 to 64 years old say that they will probably not be able to do their current job until retirement. Among those 45 to 54 years old, 43 percent say so, and 37 percent in the age group from 15 to 44.


Comment by Dr. JOHANN KALLIAUER, President of the Upper Austrian Chamber of Labour

Bild teilenAK-Präsident Johann Kalliauer © Kurt Neulinger, AKOÖ

Let’s start with something positive: the Temporary Employment Act, the nation-wide collective agreement for temporary employment, the Anti-Wage and Social Dumping Act, as well as the social and further training fund for temporary workers regulate temporary employment in Austria better than in any other country in the world. Yet, temporary employment remains a precarious and unfair model. For many people it is a career dead-end, shifting the economic costs to the state.

Current figures corroborate that temporary employment is on the rise again, in spite of the economic boom. Never before have there been so many temporary workers in Austria. This suggests that part of the (gratifying) increase in employment has to be put down to more and more jobs in personnel leasing. In practice, this means: more flexibility for companies, more precarious employments for the working people.

What we call for is not new, but, in view of the developments revealed by the Work Climate Index and other investigations, more important than ever: The share of temporary workers per company must be clearly regulated and must not exceed ten percent. And after a period of no longer than twelve months temporary workers should have the right to be taken over into the permanent workforce of the employer’s company.


Young people don’t think they can live on their pensions

However, confidence in the Austrian retirement scheme is rising. Today, more employees than in 2012 think they will be able to live on their pensions.

Depending on the age group, 14 to 18 percent believe that they will not be able to make ends meet with their pensions later on. Younger employees between 15 and 44 years of age are least optimistic. A little more confident are those between 45 and 54 years, and among the people between 55 and 64 years of age the share of those thinking that they will not be able to make a living with their old-age provision is “only” 14 percent. Altogether, however, the confidence in the Austrian retirement scheme has grown continuously over the past years. In 2012, 25 percent of the young doubted that they would be able to get by with their pensions - compared to 18 percent at present.

Women are more sceptical

Women, in particular, express serious concerns about being able to live on their pensions later on. 24 percent of the younger women say that their pensions will not be high enough. Among those 45 to 54 years old, 22 percent say so, but only 10 percent of the men.

Police officers and teachers are confident

Those most confident about being able to make a living on their government pensions are policemen/policewomen, teachers, and bank clerks. Those least confident in this respect are cleaners, shelf stackers and social scientists.

Employees who consider it unlikely to work until retirement (see page 2) believe more rarely that their income will be sufficient - regardless of their age. Only seven percent of those 55 to 64 years old and believing to hang on until retirement are in doubt that they will be able to make a living on their pensions, compared to 22 percent among those who believe they will not bear up.


In the economic and socio-political discussions far too little attention is paid to the employees' view. This may also be due to the fact that, allegedly, insufficient solid data are available. For 21 years, the Austrian Work Climate Index has been supplying these data, and it has thus become a benchmark for economic and social change from the employees' point of view. It examines their assessments with respect to society, companies, work and expectations. The Work Climate Index captures the subjective dimension, thus expanding the knowledge of economic developments and their implications for society.

The calculation of the Work Climate Index is based on quarterly surveys taken among Austrian employees. The random sample of approx. 4000 respondents each year is representative so as to enable telling conclusions regarding the mental state of all employees. Since the spring of 1997, the Work Climate Index has been calculated and published twice a year. There are also supplementary special evaluations.


For current results and background information please refer to There you will not only find the comprehensive work climate database for evaluation, but you can also calculate your personal satisfaction index with your workplace online within just a few minutes. You will also find the Executive Monitor Report online, which deals with the question of how satisfied Austrian executives are with their work.


Construction workers have the longest way to work

More than half of the employees do not work at their places of residence. The majority travel between twelve and 60 kilometres per day.

48 percent of the Austrian employees work at their places of residence, the other 52 percent either commute to another town, another province, or another country. The share of commuters has increased continuously over the last years - by about five percent in the past 10 years.

Jobs in catering and trade are often close by

The clear majority of commuters are still daily commuters (93 percent). Considered by occupational groups, the share of commuters is highest among construction workers and employees in mining, where it amounts to almost two thirds. They also have to cover the longest distances and spend most of their time on the way to and from work. Workplaces in catering and trade, however, are more often situated closer to the places of residence than jobs in the industrial sector.

Almost half of the commuters travel a total of up to 30 kilometres per day, one third between 30 and 60 kilometres, and the other 20 percent more than 60 kilometres to get to work and back. And eight percent of the commuters travel even more than 100 kilometres every day.


For 14 percent of the employees a single stretch of way to work is at least 45 minutes - which means that they travel approx. 90 minutes from and to work every day. 18 percent are on their way for less than 15 minutes per stretch of way, for the absolute majority of 67 percent a single way to work takes between 15 and 44 minutes.

Satisfaction with a good balance between job and private life declines as the distance and time increase. While approx. 18 percent of the commuters with a stretch of way of less than 15 kilometres and a single travel time of no more than 29 minutes consider the balance as moderate to poor, exactly one third of the employees having more than 51 kilometres and/or one hour or more to go say that they can reconcile work and leisure moderately at best.

The explanation is obvious: after adding the commute to the working hours the time of leisure is reduced by 2.5 to five hours on average. Commuters who, according to this way of calculation, are at work for more than 45 hours frequently complain about pressure of time at work (31 percent), constant pressure of work (24 percent), and interruptions of leisure because of work commitments (12 percent).



Upper Austrian Chamber of Employees

Das könnte Sie auch interessieren

Um sich für die Vertretungsarbeit weiterzubilden, gibt es die Bildungsfreistellung.

Executive Monitor Report

What about the job satisfaction of executives in Austria?

Arbeitsmarkt - Jahresdurchschnitt

Work Climate Index Database - NEW

It includes all data since 1997 and is easy to handle

Mann sitzt verzweifelt vor einem Schreiben.

Why do we need a Work Climate Index?

Conflicts, whether with the boss or with colleagues, are likely to make life difficult for people

  • © 2024 AK Oberösterreich | Volksgartenstrasse 40 4020 Linz, +43 50 6906 0

  • Datenschutz
  • Impressum