Austria's federal states are pushing forward with initiatives to increase the involvement of asylum seekers in community service work. This move comes after a legal advice from the Ministry of the Interior, which essentially gave the green light for such measures. Beginning in 2024, Upper Austria plans to progressively implement mandatory assistance tasks for asylum seekers.
Regional Minister Wolfgang Hattmannsdorfer announced this initiative, stating that it aims to foster better acceptance of asylum seekers within the host society. The plans are not to exploit cheap or forced labor, but to enhance social responsibility and contribution to the host society.
Newly Arriving Asylum Seekers Obliged to Work
In Vorarlberg, asylum seekers who arrive from the first quarter of 2024 will be required to perform auxiliary tasks. There will be sanctions for those who refuse to comply. The model presented by the Ministry of the Interior permits asylum seekers to work for communal services, regional and local authorities, as well as non-profit organizations.
Non-compliance could lead to repercussions such as reduction of pocket money or a switch from monetary to in-kind benefits (e.g., meal vouchers), or an overall cut in benefits. Upper Austria is currently waiting for the revised service catalog from the Ministry of the Interior to start preparations for the implementation next year, with a 'recognition contribution' for the assistance tasks.