General information about social voluntary work

According to the definition in the Freiwilligengesetz, voluntary work exists where

  • services for others are provided voluntarily
  • within the framework of an organisation
  • for no remuneration
  • by persons outside the beneficiary’s own household
  • for the purpose of promoting the interests of the general public or for primarily social reasons,
  • without this being carried out with the intention of making a profit, on the basis of an employment relationship or as part of vocational education or training.

Such voluntary work is distinguished from other activities that are unpaid but give rise to legal obligations (e.g. internships).

Interested parties can carry out

A prerequisite for carrying out a Voluntary Social Year, a Voluntary Environmental Protection Year, an Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service programme or a Peace and Social Service programme is that the activity is performed at a placement location designated by a recognised institution.

Legal persons governed by private law which

  • are not profit-orientated,
  • have their registered office in Austria and
  • carry out non-statutory welfare work or engage in other charitable activities

can be recognised as an institution on application, provided that certain requirements are met. The professional requirements include, in addition to experience in volunteer management, the structure of the educational programme and the pedagogical support and supervision.

Recognition as an institution is granted by the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection (for the Voluntary Social Year, Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service or Peace and Social Service Abroad) or by the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (for the Voluntary Environmental Protection Year).

Advice

It is possible for a Voluntary Social Year carried out in accordance with the Voluntary Work Act, a Voluntary Environmental Protection Year, an Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service programme carried out in Austria or abroad or a Peace and Social Service programme carried out abroad to count towards a person’s regular civilian service. One of the requirements for this is that the service consisted of an activity carried with a recognised institution for an uninterrupted period of ten months.

The Austrian Council for Voluntary Work was established at the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection to promote voluntary work. It acts as an institutionalised forum for dialogue, advisory body and networking platform. The term of office is five years.

Tip

The European Solidarity Corps (→ EC) is a new initiative of the European Union. It creates opportunities for young people to volunteer or work in projects in their own country or abroad.

The European Voluntary Service (→ EC) offers positions for voluntary work both within and outside Europe.

In principle, citizens from other EU Member States also have the opportunity to participate in a Voluntary Social Year, Voluntary Environmental Protection Year, Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service programme or Peace and Social Service Abroad programme. More detailed information about this can be obtained directly from the approved institutions – freiwilligenweb portal for voluntary work (→ BMSGPK)German text, from the expert advisor of the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection (→ BMSGPK)German text or from the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology.

Further links

Legal basis

Translated by the European Commission
Last update: 5 March 2021

Responsible for the content: Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection