Denmark wants foreigners to work to access social benefits


Wednesday 08 September 2021

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – The Danish government on Tuesday presented a proposal to make foreigners and people with an immigrant background work 37 hours a week in exchange for social benefits.

The Social Democratic minority government’s proposal said “there are still too many people, especially of non-Western descent, who have no work to do” in the morning. He claimed that many women of foreign origin remain out of the workforce, 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 said. “If you can’t support yourself, you have to have a duty to participate and contribute what is equivalent to a normal work week for full social benefits.

The program will start with those who have some fluency in Danish and training will be provided by local municipalities.

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 likely win the support of center-right lawmakers to pass it.

Mai Villadsen, a lawmaker from the opposition Red-Green Alliance, called the idea “stupid”. She argued that this could put downward pressure on the wages of other workers.

“The foundation of our wellness society is a strong safety net,” Villadsen wrote on Twitter.

Mirka Mozer, head of a Copenhagen-based organization that helps immigrant women find jobs, told her the plan didn’t seem ambitious enough.

“We have a lot of women who are willing to take jobs, including 37-hour (per week) jobs, but there have to be more 37-hour jobs,” Mozar told The Associated Press.

In 2018, her group, the Immigrant Women’s Center, registered nearly 13,000 people from 57 different countries. Mozer said he has contact with dozens of companies that offer jobs for immigrant women, but most only last 4 to 10 hours a week.

“Some are certainly worried that their (social) benefits will be cut because they cannot get a 37-hour job,” she said.

Immigrants and their descendants make up 14.1% of Denmark’s nearly 6 million inhabitants. The most important groups come from Turkey, Syria and Iraq.


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