Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.
Factsheet for measure AT-2020-13/461 – Updated – measures in Austria
|Country||Austria , applies nationwide|
|Time period||Temporary, 23 March 2020 – 30 June 2020|
|Type||Other initiatives or policies|
Ensuring business continuity and support for essential services
– Smoothing frictions or reallocation of workers
|Author||Bernadette Allinger (Forba) and Eurofound|
|Measure added||10 April 2020 (updated 10 November 2021)|
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.
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.
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).
||Does not apply to businesses||Does not apply to citizens|
No special funding required
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:
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).
The Chamber for Agriculture is supportive.
|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|
Eurofound (2020), Food helpers online platform, measure AT-2020-13/461 (measures in Austria), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, https://static.eurofound.europa.eu/covid19db/cases/AT-2020-13_461.html
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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.