Set up a COVID-19 info point and launched a hardship fund for self-employed people and sole traders

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Christa SCHWENG
Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ)

The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ) has been working proactively to support its members through the COVID-19 crisis. Within a week of lockdown the social partners had devised a new short-time working model that is also available to small businesses with a minimum of red tape, and they have been taking advantage of this.

In addition, the WKÖ provided a coronavirus information point that members were able to consult with any question by telephone or email, not just on weekdays but also at weekends during the first few weeks of the pandemic. By 1 June more than 46 000 queries had been answered. FAQs online are continually updated to keep businesses informed about the frequent legal changes.

A 'hardship fund' was set up for self-employed people and sole traders, which is administered by the WKÖ. This provided rapid relief, with few administrative formalities, for businesses that had lost their livelihood overnight. Information about this and other support, as well as the option of deferring tax and social security payments, has been provided by the WKÖ. Face masks can also be ordered through the Chamber.