Update on default bonus & short time work-covid19
Schreibmaschine mit beschriebenem Blatt: Covid19

The Austrian government recently planned to adapt the default bonus (“Ausfallsbonus”) for month march and extended the short-time work (“Kurzarbeit”) in order to support companies dealing with COVID-19 related problems. Both instruments are open for start-ups. The main aspects are briefly summarized below:

1. Planned increase in the default bonus for March 2021

The default bonus is intended to increase the liquidity of the applicant in a timely and non-bureaucratic way. The default bonus is 30% of the loss of sales in the observation period (one of the calendar months in the period from November 2020 to June 2021) and consists of:

  • 15% of a “bonus” itself and
  • 15% of an (optional) advance payment on the fixed cost subsidy 800,000 (advance payment FKZ 800).


Bonus and advance payment for FKZ 800 are each capped at EUR 30,000 per month. The whole default bonus can therefore be granted to a maximum amount of EUR 60,000 per month and applicant.

a.) Planned increase for march 2021

If a company meets all requirements for the default bonus the “bonus” for March 2021 will increase to 30% of the loss of sales and will be capped at EUR 50,000. The advance payment on the FKZ 800 remains the same and will not be adapted.

This means that there is a onetime maximum replacement rate of 45% for March 2021 (30% from the “bonus” and 15% from the advance payment FKZ 800) which sums up to maximum EUR 80,000 (EUR 50,000 from the “bonus” and EUR 30,000 from the advance payment FKZ 800).

b.) Application process

The application process remains unchanged. The default bonus for the observation period March 2021 can be requested as of April 16, 2021 (16th of the following month to 15th of third following month).

The application takes place via FinanzOnline. It can be carried out by the entrepreneur independently. Tax advisors, auditors and accountants can support and submit the application, provided that there is a power of attorney. 

2. Extension of short-time work and new short-time work bonus

The extension of short time work consists on one hand of the new phase 4. The framework conditions for phase 4 essentially correspond to those of short-time work phase 3. On the other hand a new short-time work bonus for companies which have remained closed since November 2020 will be established.

a.) Short time work – phase 4

The key facts for short-time work phase 4 are:

  • All applications for short-time work phase 4 can be made from April 1, 2021 to June 30, 2021 and must be placed online via eAMS account.
  • The net replacement rate remains unchanged at 80% to 90%.
  • The applications has to contain the social partner agreement (version 9.0).
    • Access to short-time work requires an economic justification (appendix 1).
    • Furthermore, the expected development of sales for the requested short-time working period between April 1, 2021 and June 30, 2021 compared to the period of April 1, 2019 to June 30, 2019 have to be specified in appendix 1.
    • The given information in appendix 1 has to be confirmed by a tax advisor, accountant or auditor if short time work is requested for more than 5 employees. This does not apply to companies that are in lockdown at the start of short-time work or have applied for short-time work only for the period of the lockdown.
    • The minimum working hours of 30% (or more than 70% lost hours) can be undercut if the companies are affected by official closures. In this case, appendix 2 to the social partner agreement must be completed.
  • In addition from April 1, 2021 employers have the option of partially replacing their employees’ tips via increasing the assessment base for employees on short-time work by up to 5%. This is applicable if the company operates in a certain sector depending on its ÖNACE code. Relevant sectors are accommodation, restaurants, healing massage, shiatsu, hairdressing and cosmetic salons, massage, tattoo and piercing studios

A comparison of Corona short work phase 3 and phase 4 in terms of differences can be found on the homepage of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce (see https://www.wko.at/service/uebersicht-corona-kurzarbeit-ab-1-4-2021.pdf).

b.) Short-time work bonus (“Kurzarbeitsbonus”)

The short-time work bonus of up to EUR 1,000 per employee serves as a compensation for additional costs incurred due to vacation entitlements for companies and compensates the loss of income due to lost tips for employees.

The bonus is intended for those companies that have been closed since November 2020, because of COVID-19 protective measures. The bonus is applicable if the company operates in a certain sector according to the ÖNACE code. Relevant sectors are passenger transport (without cable car industry), passenger transport by inland waterway, cinemas, travel and tourist guides, trade fair, exhibition and congress organizers, accommodation, restaurants, physical education and recreational classes, culture class, creative, artistic and entertaining activities, gaming, betting and lottery systems, sports, entertainment and recreation services, saunas, solariums, steam baths.

If there are 100% lost working hours in March 2021, the gross wage before short-time work has to be raised by EUR 950 (up to a maximum assessment base of EUR 5,550). This amount of EUR 950 results in a EUR 1,100 higher short-time work allowance (eg bonus), which is made up as follows:

  • for the employee approx. EUR 175 net
  • for the employer up to EUR 825 net (depending on the loss of working hours)
  • rest is due to taxes and duties for the increased employee remuneration

If the lost working hours are lower, a pro rata amount will be paid out which results in a lower bonus.

Additionally the companies are required to raise the gross pay for March 2021 for the relevant employees (for gross wage during short time work up to EUR 1,700 by at least EUR 300 gross, for a gross wage during short-time work of at least EUR 1,700 by at least EUR 350 increase).

The processing of the short-time work bonus takes place via the billing of the short-time work phase 3 for March 2021 (which must be done by April 28, 2021), due to an increase in the assessment base. If necessary, a roll-up in April / May 2021 is possible.

3. Outlook

Due to the large number of COVID funding measures, it is necessary to analyse in detail which measures can be used. The new AMS federal guidelines on Corona short-time work phase 4 and on the short-time work bonus should be available on the AMS homepage in the near future.


Christoph Puchner, Managing Director and Tax Advisor
& Katharina Geweßler,Tax Advisor from ECOVIS Austria