Passive measures - benefits for unemployed persons
An unemployed person is defined as someone without employment who has registered as seeking work with the AMS and is both willing and able to work. Claims for transfer payments can only be made by those who have made employment insurance contributions for an appropriate period. For example, those who have interrupted their working careers for a long period of time (in particular returners) and school leavers receive no unemployment insurance benefit. In order to receive benefit a person must be registered with the AMS.
Unemployment benefit (Arbeitslosengeld)
To be entitled to claim unemployment benefit, a person must be able and willing to work, available for work but unemployed and have been in insured employment for the appropriate qualifying period.
Willingness to and availability for work are measured in terms of a person’s readiness to take up suitable employment, to participate in a labour market policy scheme or to seek work independently. A reasonable job is deemed to be a job which corresponds to the physical abilities of the job seeker, does not endanger his/her health or morality. Should the beneficiary refuse a job or obstruct his/her placement or the success of a training scheme, his/her unemployment benefit is suspended. This has the additional consequence of a reduction in the duration of benefit (for at least six weeks, and for eight weeks for repeated offences).
The appropriate qualifying period is completed if the applicant has been employed and paid unemployment insurance contributions for a total of 52 weeks within the last 24 months. Those who have already received unemployment benefit at an earlier date are simply required to prove that they have worked for 28 weeks within the last 12 months. There are special regulations for young persons under the age of 25. They have only to prove 26 weeks of contributory employment within the last 12 months before the claim.
The rate of unemployment benefit is calculated on the basis of the previous income (basic rate). The basic rate is derived from the gross wage (including pro rata special payments) of the last calendar year if the applicant claims for the benefit between 1st July to 31st December of a year. It is derived from the gross wage (including pro rata special payments) from the year prior to the last if the claim is made between the 1 st January and the 30 th June of a given year.
The gross wage is reduced by the income tax and the social security contributions (= net income). The basic rate of the unemployment benefit is usually equal to 55% of this net income.
An additional family supplement of EUR 0.97 per day is granted for each child. It is only granted for partners if they have a child who has been granted a family supplement.
The benefit (not the basic rate) is increased in accordance with the ‘standard supplementary benefit rate’ stipulated in the General Social Security Law (from 1st January 2015: EUR 872,31) if
- the amount of standard supplementary benefit rate does not exceed 60% of the net income for persons with no family supplements. Otherwise the beneficiary gets only the 60% of the net income.
- the amount of standard supplementary benefit rate does not exceed 80% of the net income for persons with one or more family supplements. Otherwise the beneficiary gets only the 80% of the net income.
Unemployment benefit has a minimum duration of 20 weeks. The duration is
- 30 weeks in the event of 156 weeks of contributory
- 39 weeks in the event of 312 weeks of contributory employment within the preceding 10 years, if the unemployed person is at least 40 years of age
- 52 weeks in the event of 468 weeks of contributory employment within the preceding 15 years, if the unemployed person is at least 50 years of age
Unemployment benefit is payable from the date of application. Persons who voluntarily quit their employment or who are dismissed through their own fault do not receive a payment for the first four weeks after their employment ended (no reduction of duration).
Unemployment assistance (Notstandshilfe)
Unemployment assistance, which is payable on expiry of entitlement to unemployment benefit, combines the principles of social insurance and welfare. Firstly, the rate of the income support is calculated on the basis of the unemployment benefit previously received and is equal to no more than 92 or 95% of the basic rate (95% for a basic rate of less than EUR 872,31). Secondly, applicants must be in serious need of financial support, after taking the income of the partner and exemption limits into account (exemption limit for partners in 2015 EUR 634,00; per child: EUR 275,50; basis of assessment: 30 days). The basic rate of income support is reduced in proportion to the amount of income exceeding the exemption allowance.
After a period of six months the level of the income support depends on the length of time for which the claimant previously received the unemployment benefit. If he/she received unemployment benefit for 20 weeks the basic amount of the unemployment assistance must not exceed the standard supplementary benefit rate (=Ausgleichszulagenrichtsatz) stipulated in the General Social Security Law (from 1st January 2015: EUR 872,31). When the unemployment assistance follows 30 weeks receipt of the unemployment benefit the upper limit for the basic amount is based on the minimum subsistence level laid down in the Execution Order ( = EUR 1017,00). If the payment of the unemployment assistance follows a period of 39 or 52 weeks receipt of unemployment benefit, no such limit is applied.
The access of older unemployed persons to unemployment assistance is facilitated by more favourable regulations concerning exemption limits. Under the condition that there is no possibility of placing a claimant, the exemption limit
- is raised by 100% for persons whose entitlement to unemployment benefit for 52 weeks has expired after their 50th birthday (the exemption limit 2015 for partners is thus EUR 1.102,00 and for each dependant EUR 551,00)
- is trebled for persons who become unemployed after their 55th birthday if their entitlement to unemployment benefit for 52 weeks has expired and they have been in contributory employment for at least 20 years (partners: EUR 1.653,00 children: EUR 826,50)
Unlike the regulations pertaining to unemployment benefit, suitable employment for those in receipt of income support also includes employment which could undermine the beneficiary’s chances of returning to his/her previous occupation, if he/she has no hope of finding work in his/her original occupation in the foreseeable future.
Unemployment assistance is payable for one year (52 weeks) and may be extended ‘indefinitely’ by application, provided that the qualifying conditions are fulfilled.