Disabled Persons, Legal Status of: The legal position of the disabled in the Austrian legal system is determined by a great number of legal regulations at provincial as well as at federal level. The reason for the fragmentation of this field of law is that the Austrian Constitution does not assign competences for the concerns of disabled persons. This is also one reason why no uniform concept has been defined describing disability as a basis for rights, duties and (social) benefits.
Concerns of disabled persons in the context of social law are dealt with by the provincial authorities either in the framework of general public assistance, or within separate welfare acts for disabled or blind persons. According to these regulations, disabled people are generally entitled to payments in kind, such as medical aid, institutional care, orthopaedic care, occupational therapy and placement in a Sheltered Workshop. However, these entitlements are only of a subsidiary nature, i.e. they may only be claimed if the disabled person has no title to help arising from other legal provisions and cannot, as may be the case in isolated cases, achieve a reasonable degree of self-sufficiency.
The granting of attendance allowances for persons needing care was standardised at the federal level in the Federal Attendance Allowance Act (BPGG, Federal Law Gazette 1993/110), which entered into force on July 1, 1993. Up to that date, direct payments based on various sources of law had been made at provincial and federal level. Payments were standardised in order to effectively guarantee care and assistance in cases of persistent need.
Austrian labour law promotes the integration of the disabled into working life and is aimed at making up for prevailing competitive disadvantages. The Employment of Disabled Persons Act (BEinstG, Federal Law Gazette 1970/22), for example, obliges employers with 25 or more employees to also engage disabled persons. This does not give individual handicapped persons a claim to employment, but employers who fail to conform have to pay a compensation tax to a public fund. The money so accumulated is primarily used to promote employment of the disabled. One way to do this is to establish sheltered workshops and to support a workplace layout adequate to the needs of the disabled person. The Employment of Disabled Persons Act also provides for special protection from dismissal in order to prevent handicapped persons from being ousted from the labour market. They may only be dismissed after the relevant committee of the provincial Office for the Disabled has given its consent and after consultation of the Office of the Provincial Government responsible for the execution of the relevant provincial law. Without its approval the dismissal has no legal effect.
Literature#Fingerzeige fuer behinderte Menschen, ed. by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs; C. Badelt and A. Oesterle, Zur Lebenssituation behinderter Menschen in Oesterreich, 1993.