Civil Servants (German: Beamte), persons who are subject to employment under public law, the employer being a federal, provincial or municipal authority ( Territorial Authorities). Employment is not created by means of a service contract, but through a unilateral act of the sovereign authority (Bescheid, approx. notice of a decision). In Austria, civil servants are initially appointed on a provisional basis and are later awarded tenureship (appointed for life). Employment is governed by the Civil Service Code, and agreements deviating from these regulations are invalid.
The following principles apply to all civil servants: strict allegiance, duty of obedience, official secrecy, liability for losses caused in the course of the performance of their duties, criminal responsibility for their conduct as officials, special disciplinary law and pension scheme. Civil servants are appointed for life, and therefore their employment relationship is not terminated when they retire but is merely changed.
Since Austria became a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), Austrian citizenship as a requirement to be appointed as a civil servant has only been necessary in the core areas of public administration.
Sometimes, other groups of employees are called Beamte, namely those whose contractual relation is also characterised by high job security, e.g. persons working in a bank or for the Austrian Federal Railways.
History: From the late 15th century on, Austrian princes as well as the Estates had civil servants to carry out their administrative affairs. Later on, landlords also employed such officials. It was under the rule of the emperors Joseph II and Franz I that government officials were endowed with more rights (tenureship, pensions), but at the same time their duties increased. Ever since, the civil service has developed as a distinct social group which has become characteristic of public administration. The civil service grew considerably after 1850 when lower grades and court officials were included. In the last third of the 19th century, it exercised a uniting function in a state that was home to many different ethnic and linguistic varieties and was threatened by nationalistic tendencies. In the First Republic, the body of public officials was taken over (with their previous titles), and employees in other areas (railway and postal service) were given civil servant status. During the Second Republic, the responsibilities of public administration again increased, and with it the number of civil servants employed with federal, provincial and local authorities soared (today approx. 700,000).
Literature#H. Kocian und G. Schubert, Beamten-Dienstrechtsgesetz 1979, Loseblattsammlung, 1980ff.; B. Schimetschek, Der oesterreichische Beamte, 1984.