I'm currently working for a company where the core hours are 10am to 3pm.

I have signed a contract in the past that says that my core hours are the ones mentioned before and that I must work 40 hours per week, having the ability to manage the rest of my time (arrive early one day and leave at 3pm or arrive at 10am and leave at 7pm.

Now there has been changes in management and they announced that now it's mandatory to work 9-5. Leaving aside the subject that they are going against what the rest of the world is doing, I would believe that this is ilegal as my previous signed agreement state that my mandatory time is 10am-3pm.

They are planning on making a new agreement and force us to sign it.

Is it legal? Can I refuse to sign it? Would there be any "real" consequences in it? (Aside from implicit ones like I would be on management bad side).

It feels like a betrayal that I moved here to work with this company with a stated agreement and now they decided to change it.

  • 3
    The fact that they’re forcing you to sign the one suggests that you can, in fact, refuse. And refusing has the real consequence of keeping your current hours. Though also all those implicit consequences that you mentioned.
    – Kaz
    Feb 10, 2021 at 13:47
  • 5
    In the UK, the way this would be managed would be for the company to say that a change in business circumstances means the requirements on their employees have changed (it's generally very difficult to prove otherwise), and then anyone who won't agree to the new terms would be made redundant. But you need to get advise from someone who knows the details of the law in Austria. Feb 10, 2021 at 14:34
  • 4
    If you want to know whether it's legal, isn't it better to ask a lawyer?
    – nicola
    Feb 10, 2021 at 14:52
  • @Kaz It is not so clear cut. In Spain you could refuse to sign, but that would mean the company would have an easier way to fire you (still better than if you just resigned as you would have some compensation and unemployment benefits).
    – SJuan76
    Feb 10, 2021 at 15:13
  • If you want to know legality you have to get your contract checkd with a lawyer. - Most contracts I've seen allow companies to change the terms... so generally speaking, I would expect they can change your job responsibilities and even work hours. - You don't have to agree, but if you don't they can probably make you redundant.
    – flexi
    Feb 10, 2021 at 16:04

1 Answer 1


IANAL but a Google search about Austrian contract law suggests that your employer is allowed to do this if there's a valid objective reason, they tell you two weeks in advance and there are no special reasons why you couldn't work during this time. But most importantly:

This is only allowed if you have at some agreed to the possibility that your work hours are subject to change! I.e. in your original contract, later additions to that contract or in a contract between your union and your employer.

If you feel this does not apply here you should thus contact your union representative if you have one or failing that a lawyer.

EDIT: that link also suggests that people in your situation contact the Arbeitskammer ASAP so you should probably do that first.

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