Denmark proposes making migrants work 37 hours a week to earn benefits
The proposal by the minority Social Democratic government said “there are still too many people, especially with non-Western backgrounds, who do not have a job to get up to” in the morning.
It claimed many women of foreign descent remained outside the labour market, especially those with roots in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey.
“If you come to Denmark, you have to work and support yourself and your family,” the proposal stated.
“If one cannot support oneself, one must have a duty to participate and contribute what is equivalent to a regular working week to receive the full welfare benefit.”
The programme would start with those who had some Danish proficiency, and skills training would be undertaken by local government.
No date has yet been set for the 179-seat parliament to vote on the proposal. Although the Social Democrats do not have a majority, they would be likely to get support from centre-right politicians to pass it.
Mai Villadsen, a member of the opposition Red-Green Alliance, called the idea “foolish”.
She argued it could lead to a downward pressure on the wages of other workers.
“The foundation of our welfare society is a strong safety net,” Ms Villadsen wrote on Twitter.
Mirka Mozer, head of a Copenhagen-based organisation that helps immigrant women get jobs, said the plan did not sound ambitious enough.
“We have lots of women who are willing to take jobs, including jobs that are 37 hours (per week), but there needs to be more 37-hour jobs,” Ms Mozer said.
In 2018, her group, the Immigrant Women’s Centre, had registered almost 13,000 people from 57 different nations.
Ms Mozer said it had contacts with dozens of companies that offered jobs to immigrant women, but that most were only four-to-10 hours per week.
“Some certainly fear that their (welfare) benefits will be reduced because they can’t get a 37-hour job,” she said.
Immigrants and their descendants represent 14.1 per cent of Denmark’s nearly six million people.
The largest groups are from Turkey, Syria and Iraq.
Additional reporting by Associated Press