Word of the Week: E-Card Urlaub [iːkɑːd ˈuːɐ̯ˌlaʊ̯p]

E-Card Urlaub means literally “e-card vacation;” a colloquial Viennese slang for going on (paid) sick leave.

The phrase derives from the ubiquitous e-card, a single electronic card for all social services – including health insurance, unemployment benefits, and social security, first issued nationally in 2005 to cut down on paperwork.

Found in most Austrian wallets, any visit to a physician inevitably starts with the receptionist asking for one.

Depending on the context, the term may refer to either a legitimate illness or to exploit the system for increased time off work. E-Card Urlaub can refer to abuse of sick leave, which can also be described as a vacation request to the doctor.

As of early September 2020, more than 2.7 million insured persons have already received their new e-cards with a photo to make it easier to check the identity of patients. The e-card is not only the personal key to the health system in Austria, it is also the personal key to the security of sensitive health data.

In recent years, the e-card system has been continuously expanded in Vienna and all over Austria to include applications that are beneficial for both patients and healthcare providers.

No matter how well you speak German, the Word Of The Week will help you impress any Viennese! While learning German is not an easy task in general, learning the language in Austria can come to be twice as complicated.

Strongly linked to local cultural individualities, the slangs change and evolve in all cultures around the world, the words and phrases make sense only when one is familiar with their cultural context. The Word of the Week is here to help you understand those singularities and impress the locals with some real Viennese words and expressions.

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