French President Emmanuel Macron's government has unveiled plans to make it more difficult for the unemployed to claim benefits.

Labor minister Muriel Penicaud said Tuesday that the reform was "tough yet important."

Unions have denounced the plans as unfair and damaging to the country's social security system.

The planned changes extend the period people will have had to work to be entitled to unemployment benefits and reduces the amount wealthier workers can receive after six months out of work.

The government expects the reform to save 3.4 billion euros ($3.8 billion) over three years and hopes it will reduce unemployment.

Unemployment in France fell to 8.7% in the first quarter of the year, its lowest in a decade — yet it remains among the highest in Europe.