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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 DE-2020-12/1144 – measures in Germany

COVID-19 info-hotline for East European workers

Corona-Hotline für osteuropäische Beschäftigte

Country Germany , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 15 March 2020
Type Other initiatives or policies
Category Protection of workers, adaptation of workplace
– Occupational health and safety
Author Birgit Kraemer (Hans Boeckler Foundation) and Eurofound
Case created 15 September 2020 (updated 12 May 2021)

Background information

During the pandemic, certain industries were at risk of collapse because the borders were closed for foreign workers. It showed that agriculture and forestry, meat processing, private care of the elderly and construction depend on seasonal and posted workers from abroad. Moreover, also the wharf industry and other manufacturing industries depend on posted workers.

Following on public outcries that the supply of meat and vegetables might be affected, government permitted foreign workers to enter the country for work.

Faire Mobilität , a network of consultants for Eastern European workers run by the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB) and predominately funded by the Federal Employment Agency, set up a phone hotline for foreign workers in need of support.

Content of measure

Established in 2011, Faire Mobilität today holds nine advisory centers located all over Germany. Social and labour rights experts speaking different languages give comprehensible information and direct support in case of need. Data by the advisory centers indicate that workers contact them because of wage issues or wage theft, lack of information, violations of social rights or health and safety. The consultants provide individual support; big cases involving a number of workers are made public via email newsletters and media contacts.

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a particular challenge because mobile workers from abroad are often contained in groups at their employers' premises or they work together with little space for social distancing.

Faire Mobilität runs a standard phone hotline; in face of COVID-19, the hotline was extended to provide information on the workers' rights and obligations with regard to the pandemia but also to give support in case of individual anxieties.

Use of measure

Data on the use of the COVID-19 hotline is not yet available.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Seasonal workers
Posted workers
Migrants in employment
Does not apply to businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
Trade unions
National funds
Trade union

Social partners

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

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative No involvement
Form Any other form of consultation, institutionalised (as stable working groups or committees) or informal Not applicable

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

  • Only trade unions
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown


Faire Mobilität is a structure set up by the DGB and has the DGB on its steering board. Employers organisations are not involved.

In case any violations of labour rights become known, the sectoral affiliates of DGB will get involved as well. . In case COVID 19 infections become known because of the hotline, Faire Mobilität and the sectoral trade union at local level will contact the labour inspectorate for investigating the occupational safety and health standards and the conditions of housing.

Views and reactions

The trade unions are supportive, the employer organisations are not involved.


  • 24 March 2020: Hotline for Eastern European workers


Eurofound (2020), COVID-19 info-hotline for East European workers, case DE-2020-12/1144 (measures in Germany), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,

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