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COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level responses

Eurofound's COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the crisis, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for case AT-2020-13/461 – measures in Austria

Food helpers online platform

Die Lebensmittelhelfer Online Plattform

Country Austria , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, started on 23 March 2020
Type Other initiatives or policies
Category Ensuring business continuity and support for essential services
– Smoothing frictions or reallocation of workers
Author Bernadette Allinger (Forba) and Eurofound
Case created 10 April 2020 (updated 10 July 2020)

Background information

Border closures pose great challenges for domestic businesses. Foreign workers or seasonal workers employed in Austria are no longer allowed to enter the country, resulting in a shortage of labour both on farms and in food processing companies (e.g. meat sector). In order to ensure and maintain the food supply, all the work that is now necessary must be carried out on time. The Chambers of Agriculture, together with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism, the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber and the machinery ring, are endeavouring to support farmers and processing enterprises in carrying out the necessary work on schedule despite the current situation and thus to continue to ensure the supply of domestic food.

Content of measure

Farmers can register their demand for urgently needed labour via an online platform; interested workers can register likewise. They are paid according to collective agreements, but also voluntary (i.e. unpaid) work is possible. Also persons on short-time work in their regular job may apply (they are allowed to have additional earnings with no upper limit). Students of certain relevant schools or university programmes can have this work credited as internships. Placement is made according to the urgency of the work to be carried out in the companies, including seasonal work. In order to be able to find the right workers for the companies, general conditions such as the type of work, the amount of work and time frame, as well as the required duration of the work on the company etc. are checked and compared with the data of the interested helpers.

Use of measure

Initially, the offer has exceeded the demand by far, but farmers are not entirely content with this initiative. Farmers have called attention to the fact that they would prefer their regular seasonal workers due to their experience (in Upper Austria, it was spoken of preferably 80% foreign seasonal workers (mostly from Romania, Albania and the Ukraine) and 20% domestic workers).

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Seasonal workers
Does not apply to businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Employers' organisations
No special funding required

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role No involvement Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative
Form Not applicable Direct consultation outside a formal body

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Only employers' organisations
  • Main level of involvement: Sectoral or branch level

Involvement

The online platform was initiated and set up in cooperation between the national government (agricultural and labour ministries) and the Chamber for Agriculture (employer organisation).

Views and reactions

The Chamber for Agriculture is supportive.

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      A - Agriculture, Forestry And Fishing A1 Crop and animal production, hunting and related service activities
    • Occupation (ISCO level 2)
      Market-oriented skilled agricultural workers
      Market-oriented skilled forestry, fishery and hunting workers
      Agricultural, forestry and fishery labourers

Sources

Citation

Eurofound (2020), Food helpers online platform, case AT-2020-13/461 (measures in Austria), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, http://eurofound.link/covid19eupolicywatch

Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process. All information is preliminary and subject to change.