Our lawyers respond to legal questions posed by readers of the daily Austrian newspaper „Tiroler Tageszeitung“, in connection with the corona crisis.
Please find some of the questions and answers below:
Question: Must a business continue to pay the full rent, even if it is selling from outside the rented business premises?
Answer: A shop that has been closed down by the authorities due to corona is now selling online. Or: a restaurant that has been closed down now delivers to its customers in their homes. What both cases have in common is that the businesses are selling products, but not from their business premises that they have rented. Are the shop and the restaurant allowed to reduce their rental payments partially or in full nonetheless, based on § 1104 General Civil Code (“epidemic”)? Yes, because the rented premises have become partially usable or not usable at all for the agreed purpose.
Attorney Dr. Norbert Rinderer
Question: May an employee be terminated with notice during short-time work?
Answer: An employee may not be dismissed for economic reasons during short-time work. However, it is possible to terminate an employee with notice if the reason for the termination lies in the person of the employee (e.g. behavioural reasons). In such cases, the employer is under a duty to retain the workforce through a replacement, unless the Labour Market Service Authority has granted an exception. In the application to the authority, reasons must be stated as to why the employer’s business would be endangered by maintaining the original workforce number.
Attorney Mag. Melanie Tischlinger. LL.M.
Question: Companies and the Epidemics Act: for which time periods can compensation be claimed?
Answer: At the start of the corona crisis, undertakings felt that they were well protected financially against losses. Indeed, the Epidemics Act of 1950 provides that companies that are totally or partially closed down by the authorities due to an epidemic can claim full compensation from the state for their loss of earnings. In order to contain the enormous expenses the state would face as a result of the corona crisis, the new so-called “COVID-19 Measures Act” and the “Closure Ordinance” issued by the Minister of Health eliminated this legal protection for many industries overnight. But not completely. Companies that had already been closed down under the Epidemics Act prior to 16 March 2020 or were subject to movement restrictions (in the quarantined areas) can continue to claim compensation for their losses.
Attorney Dr. Herwig Frei