Concern at work-for-dole expansion

The federal government's move to force the unemployed into a range of new community labour positions is akin to paying workers below the minimum wage, a welfare group says.

Revealing details of the coalition's planned work-for-the-dole expansion, Assistant Minister for Employment Luke Hartsuyker said Newstart recipients will complete tasks such as rubbish collection, park maintenance and stretch to gardening and painting at aged care facilities.

"We'll be releasing the implementation for Work-for-the-Dole in due course," Mr Hartsuyker told ABC Radio on Monday, adding that the changes would be introduced in a "measured and a methodical way".

He said the scheme would be compulsory and anyone who refused to work would lose their Newstart payment.

Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) policy director Jacqueline Phillips said the plans raised a number of questions and concerns.

"If there is a need for additional workers to meet the needs of local communities ... surely these positions should be paid for properly, not at Newstart rates of $35 a day ... well below the minimum wage," Ms Phillips told AAP.

She said Australia's experience with work-for-the-dole has shown it is "not very effective getting people into jobs" and instead promoted wage-subsidy schemes, from which almost half of participants are in paid employment after six months.

Such a policy will increase Australia's jobless rate, Labor MP Andrew Leigh said, referring to work-for-the-dole research conducted during the Howard government.

"It found that work-for-the-dole increased joblessness because it ended up diverting people from job-search activities into work-for-the-dole activities," Mr Leigh said of the Melbourne University study.

The ACTU went further with its criticism of the government's proposal, labelling it a "lazy and damaging policy solution".

"The government vision on jobs is to attack decent wages, encourage business to leave, deregulate the economy and now put pressure on the unemployed," union national president Ged Kearney said in a statement.

Mr Hartsuyker told News Corp that Prime Minister Tony Abbott was "very focused" on expanding the work-for-the-dole scheme and that the government takes a dim view of people who refuse a job and stay on benefits.

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