Migrants in Denmark could be forced to complete 37 hours' work a week in order to receive welfare benefits under a new government plan.
The Danish government plans to make migrants work full-time jobs if they want to continue receiving state benefits. Announcing the plan on Tuesday the government said it was designed to help migrants assimilate into society.
"We want to introduce a new work logic where people have a duty to contribute and be useful, and if they can't find a regular job, they have to work for their allowance," Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told reporters.
"For too many years we have done a disservice to a lot of people by not demanding anything of them," she added.
The bill has yet to be approved by Parliament.
Denmark has some of Europe's toughest immigration policies and has set a target of no new asylum seekers at all. In June, Parliament approved by a vote of 70-24 the establishment of a refugee reception center outside the country's borders.
Mai Villadsen, spokesperson for Denmark's left-wing Unity List, said the government's plan was misguided.
"I'm afraid this will end up as state-supported social dumping, sending people into crazy jobs," she told the broadcaster TV2.
Initially, it will be a requirement for those who have been on benefits for three to four years, and who have not attained a certain level of schooling and proficiency in Danish.
Working hours will be a minimum of 37 hours a week, Frederiksen said.
Plan targets ‘non-Western women’
According to the government, six out of 10 women from the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey do not participate in the Danish labor market. Frederiksen made it clear on Tuesday that "women with non-Western background" were the target of the new plan, TV2 reported.
The bill aims to integrate 20,000 people by pushing them to find some form of work, through local government offices.
"It could be a job on the beach picking up cigarette butts or plastic... (or) helping to solve various tasks within a company," employment minister Peter Hummelgaard said.
"The most important thing for us is that people get out of their homes," he added.
Also read: Impeachment trial begins for former Danish migration minister who separated migrant couples
Zero asylum seekers target
Frederiksen's government, in power since 2019, has set a target of zero asylum applications, which have already fallen. Between January 1 and July 31 this year, just 851 asylum applications were received in Denmark, AFP reports.
According to official statistics, 11% of Denmark's 5.8 million people are immigrants, and 58% of those are citizens of a country that Copenhagen classifies as "non-Western".