BEIRA Corona Task Force Update

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Overview of legal measures to mitigate the financial impact of the Coronavirus crisis on companies (as per 27 March 2020)

The Austrian legislator has extended the measures adopted so far and has introduced new measures to mitigate the financial effects of the crisis in connection with "SARS CoV 2" or "COVID-19" ("Coronavirus") for companies. More and more details on the various subsidies and grants for companies are now being published. The following is an overview:


First of all, it should be noted that all the assistance measures listed below are only available within the limits of budgetary resources and there is no legal entitlement to them. In addition, grants and subsidies can be reclaimed in the event of false statements being made (in addition to the possible threat of criminal prosecution).

Furthermore, it should be noted that the various subsidies or grants should not be applied for in parallel, as they are either deducted from each other or may even constitute a criterion for the exclusion of eligibility (for example, a prerequisite for applying to the Federal Hardship Fund is that no further subsidies in the form of cash payments by local authorities due to the Coronavirus crisis have been received).

Federal Hardship Fund

The Federal Hardship Fund is intended to support companies that have fallen into acute financial difficulties due to the Coronavirus crisis by granting them a one-off, non-repayable subsidy. The Austrian Chamber of Commerce ("WKO") has been commissioned to administer the fund.

The following are eligible to apply (according to current status)

  • Sole proprietors;
  • Micro-enterprises with fewer than ten employees (part-time employees are calculated by conversion into     full-time equivalents) and with a turnover or balance sheet total of no more than two million euros;
  • Employed shareholders who are compulsorily insured under GSVG/FSVG;
  • "New self-employed persons" who are compulsorily insured under GSVG;
  • Free(lancing) employees who are compulsorily insured under ASVG; and
  • Freelancer professions.

Entrepreneurs who earn more than about 60,000 euros per year (80 percent of the annual maximum contribution basis under Austrian social security law) are not eligible for benefits. Entrepreneurs who earn less than around 5,500 euros per year (annual marginal earnings threshold) are also ineligible.

Individuals who receive unemployment benefits or a statutory pension are also excluded from such subsidy claim, as are farmers, foresters and non-profit organisations; separate subsidy regulations are currently being established for the latter three mentioned.

The exact conditions for a claim under  the Hardship Fund will be laid down in a special regulation issued by the Federal Minister of Finance and will include, among other things, proof that the company or entrepreneur is affected by an economically significant threat from the Coronavirus crisis. Whether someone is affected by such case of hardship is determined on the basis of whether (i) he or she is no longer able to cover current costs/expenses, (ii) there is an officially ordered ban on entering the premises, or (iii) there is a drop in sales of at least 50% compared to the same month of the previous year. In addition, only generally healthy companies are eligible (no pending insolvency proceedings, no suspected need for reorganization).

Submissions are possible from 27 March 2020, 5 p.m. (until 31 December 2020) directly on the WKO website and must include the following data and documents:

  • Tax number;
  • Code number of the Company Register (KUR) or Global Location Number (GLN), both to be found in the Company Service Portal (not applicable to free(lancing) employees);
  • Passport, driving license or identity card.

The first grants are to be made in the upcoming days, with either EUR 500 or EUR 1,000 being paid out as immediate support in a first phase and up to EUR 6,000 (EUR 2,000 per month for up to three months) in a second phase.

Federal Emergency Aid Fund

The Austrian government has announced an emergency aid fund of 15 billion euros for industries directly affected by the Coronavirus crisis, such as gastronomy, tourism or trade. Such aid will be given in the form of a mixture of loans and grants, whereby initially loans will be granted up to the maximum amount of a quarterly turnover or up to a maximum of 120 million euros, and after one year an evaluation of the damages the company has suffered as a result of the measures taken by the federal government in connection with the Coronavirus crisis will be carried out. In the amount of such damages (or a part thereof), the loan will then be converted into a grant. Further details are not yet known.

Emergency Fund in Vienna

The Emergency Fund of the City of Vienna and the Vienna Chamber of Commerce ("WKW") is intended to support Viennese companies whose business activities have been significantly affected by the Coronavirus crisis by paying out a non-repayable special grant to cover their current expenses.

Eligible for application are Viennese companies that

  • have been a member of the Chamber of Commerce for at least two years as of 1 March 2020;
  • hold at least one valid business license in Vienna;
  • have a maximum of ten employees (part-time employees are calculated by conversion into full-time equivalents);
  • carry out their business activities at a Viennese location (in the case of business activities in several regions, a proven turnover for the Viennese location must be presented); and
  • are in economic distress due to the Coronavirus crisis.

Economic distress shall be constituted if

  • there is a significant monthly decline in turnover of at least 50%; or
  • there is a massive monthly decline in turnover of at least 75%.

Such significant or massive decline in turnover must have occurred for at least one month in the period from 1 March 2020 to 31 July 2020.

If these elements are present, a grant in the form of a non-repayable subsidy for a maximum duration of five months may be applied for. In concrete terms, the grant may be paid out as follows (whereby it is not allowed to apply for both types of grant at the same time):

  • In the event of a significant decline in turnover (50 % to 74 % of monthly turnover), a non-repayable rent subsidy in a maximum of 100 euros per month (in case of a housing association) or a maximum of 600 euros per month (in case of rented property) is paid out.
  • In the event of a massive decline in sales (75 % or more of monthly turnover), a non-repayable loss compensation in a maximum of 1,000 euros per month is paid out.

Submissions can be made directly to WKW from 1 April 2020 (until 31 December 2020) and must include the following data and documents:

  • for a rent subsidy: the most recent rent invoice; or
  • for a loss compensation, either: the most recent income tax statement, the most recent income tax advance payment, list of account balances, the most recent annual financial statements or the most recent income-expense statements; and
  • records of monthly turnovers for the current year and the previous year.

Livelihood Security Fund in Lower Austria

The province of Lower Austria and the Lower Austria Chamber of Commerce ("WKNÖ") also offer companies with at least two years of Chamber of Commerce membership and a maximum of ten employees (on a full-time equivalent basis) a one-time grant of up to 5,000 euros from the Livelihood Security Fund.

For such grant, a significant decrease in monthly turnover due to the effects of the Coronavirus crisis must be proven by a comparison with the monthly turnover of the previous year.

The application can be downloaded from the WKNÖ website and submitted to the regional office of the WKNÖ starting in April 2020 (until 31 December 2020).

Hardship Fund and Guarantees in Burgenland

In addition to Vienna and Lower Austria, the Province of Burgenland has also set up an emergency aid fund at Wirtschaft Burgenland GmbH ("WiBuG") to offer sole proprietors and micro-enterprises (fewer than nine employees) in the commercial sector, including tourism and gastronomy, located in Burgenland non-repayable subsidies for fixed costs and rent.

Subsidies of up to 50 % (maximum 500 Euros) for rental costs and up to 50 % (maximum 5,000 Euros) for fixed costs can be granted for the period from 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020.

In addition, the Province of Burgenland now also offers bridge financings in the form of guarantees for working capital financings (in exceptional cases also in the form of small direct loans) to Burgenland's commercial SMEs.

The parameters are similar to those in Vienna and Lower Austria (state liability rate up to 80% of the loan amount, maximum loan amount of 1.5 million euros, term up to five years, guarantee fee from 0.5% p.a., no handling fee). The application must be submitted to WiBuG by the financing bank. If financing by the relationship bank is not possible, WiBuG may directly grant small loans of up to 50,000 euros (term up to five years, interest rate from 2.0% p.a., no handling fee).

The respective application forms can be downloaded from the WiBuG website and submitted until 31 July 2020.


Basic Levies of the Chambers of Commerce

The Chambers of Commerce have suspended the charging of basic levies until further notice. Impositions already made for the year 2020 are currently to be regarded as irrelevant.

Civil Law

Contrary to Germany, where the Coronavirus crisis has led to far-reaching interventions in civil law matters (such as compulsory deferrals or partial non-terminability of loans), Austria has not yet introduced any regulation or - to the extent known - formally initiated any efforts in this direction.

However, the Austrian Federal Government has announced that the Federal Minister of Finance is in contact with Austrian banks in order to facilitate loan deferrals for affected individuals. It remains to be seen whether legal measures will also be taken in Austria if voluntary deferrals by Austrian banks are not granted.

Our specialists with the respective expertise are at your disposal.