The Austrian Federal Civil Service
table of contents
Public administration in Austria
Public administration in Austria is carried out on three levels: the Federal level, the level of the nine Länder (i. e. Regions), and that of the 2,094 municipalities. In addition, social insurance funds, statutory representative bodies (called “Chambers”, e. g. the Chamber of Labour and the Chamber of Commerce), and other legal entities involved in providing public services are sometimes included in the definition of the public sector.
Public administration staffing levels
By delivering a wide range of services to the people of Austria, public servants provide important impulses for the country's society and economy.
A large proportion of them work in well-known occupations, e.g. as teachers, police officers, soldiers or tax inspectors; others deliver services such as welfare benefits, infrastructure maintenance and improvement, food and medicine safety, environmental protection, and public health.
The Federal Civil Service
It is the Federal Ministries — their headquarters as well as their subordinate institutions — which are responsible for carrying out the administrative tasks of the Federation (or Bund, as it is called in Austria). Only 8.8 % of Federal civil servants work in the Federal Ministries themselves, while 90.3 % work in their numerous subordinate institutions, such as schools, courts, tax offices and police stations.
Finally, 0.9 % of all Federal civil servants work for the Federal President's Office, the Parliamentary Administration, the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Administrative Court, the Ombudsman Board and the Court of Audit, which are collectively known as the “supreme institutions” of the Republic.
In addition to these, more than 4,300 civil servants (FTE) still work for agencies and other institutions that no longer form part of the Federal Civil Service, e. g. Statistics Austria, the Austrian Federal Museums, the Public Employment Service, public universities and the Probation Service; another 7,600 or so work in the successor companies of the Austrian Post Office and Telegraph Administration.
Occupational groups in the Federal Civil Service
There are seven different occupational groups within the Federal Civil Service, including the five listed below, as well as nurses and school inspectors. While there are clear job profiles for most of these occupations, members of the administrative service can be involved in a wide range of different activities, which is why they are to be found in practically all parts of the Federal Civil Service. In addition to administrative officers, this group includes experts such as lawyers, engineers, economists, psychologists and business administration specialists, to name just a few.
In 2021, the retirement age of Federal civil servants fell by 0.1 years and lies currently at 62.8 years. The reduction has two reasons: on the one hand, retirement age increased by 0.5 years in 2020. The majority of this increase can be explained by disability retirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, retirements increased significantly among law enforcement, which is the occupational group with the youngest retirees. As retirements by law enforcement officers amounted to almost a quarter of all retirements, this increase influenced the overall figures. Retirements of Federal civil servants increased by 1 % in 2021 (+35 new retirements), amounting to a total of 4,186.
Age structure of the Federal Civil Service
In 2021, the average age of staff members was 45.3 years (2020: 45.6). The continuous long-term rise in average age can mainly be explained by a restrictive recruitment policy. The slight decline since 2017 is especially due to recruitment in law enforcement. Staff today tend to be more highly qualified, and therefore older upon recruitment and to retire at a later age than they did some years ago.
Part-time employment in the Federal Civil Service
2021 the proportion of part-time staff was 16.9 %. Among permanent civil servants and those on private-law employment contracts alike, women made more use of this opportunity than men.
Qualification levels of Federal Civil Service staff
The proportion of highly qualified staff has traditionally been high in the Federal Civil Service. The recent process of refocussing on the core tasks of public administration has led to operative units being hived off and turned into separate legal entities such as agencies, as well as certain services being outsourced to private providers. This has caused the percentage of university graduates and those having completed upper secondary education (so-called Matura) to rise even further, to 50.0 %. By comparison, the proportion is only 38.8 % in the private sector.
Initial and in-service training
Working in the Federal Civil Service can require highly specialised know-how, depending on the respective occupational group and specific post. All new recruits therefore undergo a comprehensive initial training program, which builds on their previous qualifications. There are also different types of internship available within the Federal Civil Service, such as public administration internships, or court internships for law graduates, provide skills that are in demand in the private sector, too.
Furthermore, the Federal Civil Service is currently training 1,453 apprentices, making it one of the largest providers of apprenticeship training in the country. Another 2,590 apprentices are being trained in various public enterprises and agencies. As of 31 December 2021, a total of 867 employees are being trained as commissioned or non-commissioned officers of the Austrian Armed Forces.
Women and men in the Federal Civil Service
The proportion of women in the entire Federal Civil Service is 43.0 %. This percentage has been rising for several years, particularly in areas where women are underrepresented (e.g. law enforcement and military). Austria-wide, the proportion of women among all employees is 48.2 %, a level exceeded by 7 of the 12 Federal Ministries. However, in two of these, namely the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defence, the percentage is markedly lower than the Austrian average. This is because a high proportion of these ministries’ staff belong to the occupational groups of law enforcement and the military, where women are in a minority for historical reasons.
Women in leadership positions is an important indicator when it comes to gender equality. Leadership positions not only come with decision-making powers, they also correlate with higher income levels. To demonstrate the share of women in leadership positions over time, the indicator “Women in the highest pay grades” was developed, including four levels. The two highest levels comprise female academics group 1 (e.g. Secretaries-General, Directors- General and Directors) and female academics group II (e.g. Heads of Division, Heads of Unit, etc.). Since 2006, the share of women in leadership positions has increased at all levels. With 17.6 percentage points, the share of women in group 1 increased significantly more than the overall share of women in the Federal Civil Service.