Denmark proposes making migrants work 37 hours a week to earn welfare benefits


Denmark has proposed making migrants work 37 hours a week to earn welfare benefits because ‘there are too many, especially with non-Western backgrounds, who do not have a job’. 

The proposal by the minority Social Democratic government, a traditionally left wing administration that has adopted right wing anti-immigration policies, would require migrants who have been on benefits for at least three years to find work. 

It said the programme was necessary because many women of foreign descent do not work, 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.’ 

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has claimed the policy is intended to help migrants integrate into Danish society, with plans to encourage them to learn the language, but the proposal has been widely criticised as unfair. 

The proposal by the minority Social Democratic government supported the proposal with the claim many women of foreign descent remain outside the labour market, especially those with roots in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey (file photo)

The programme would start with those who are able to speak some Danish and they would be given skills training by the 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.

Though traditionally left wing, Frederiksen’s party adopted right wing anti-immigration policies when she took power in 2019 and is now targeting zero asylum claims. 

Frederiksen has blamed the crackdown on immigration on the need to protect Denmark’s welfare system so it can continue to accommodate migrants already in the country.  

But the proposal has been widely criticsed as unfair, with Mai Villadsen, a member of the opposition Red-Green Alliance, branding the idea ‘foolish’. 

She argued that 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.

The proposal was tabled by the Social Democratic government (pictured, party leader and Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen) who claim women of foreign descent remain outside the labour market

The proposal was tabled by the Social Democratic government (pictured, party leader and Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen) who claim women of foreign descent remain outside the labour market

The Social Democratic government stated in the proposal, 'if you come to Denmark, you have to work and support yourself and your family' (pictured, refugee activists protest against deportations at Copenhagen Airport in 2016)

The Social Democratic government stated in the proposal, ‘if you come to Denmark, you have to work and support yourself and your family’ (pictured, refugee activists protest against deportations at Copenhagen Airport in 2016)

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 Mozar 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.

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 (pictured, a border control officer at the Oresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark)

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 (pictured, a border control officer at the Oresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark)



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