“The proposed amendment will be unconstitutional as it discriminates against women, by treating pregnancy as a disease/disability”- All India SBI Employees Association.
The controversy sparked when India’s largest lender State Bank Of India (SBI) issued new rules regarding pregnant women. This controversial rule attracted many negative remarks when it termed pregnant women as “temporarily unfit” who are into more than three months of their pregnancy. According to the medical fitness and ophthalmological standards for new recruits and promotees dated December 31, 2021, women can join back after four months of their delivery.
This is not the first time when such rules and guidelines have sparked a row. In 2009 same proposal was carried out but was later withdrawn after huge criticism.
What was the previous standard?
Earlier, any pregnant woman up to six months of pregnancy was allowed to join work under the following conditions-
- A certificate from a specialist gynaecologist that her taking up bank’s employment at this stage of pragnancy will not interfere with her pregnancy.
- She is fit for the workload and the work will not hamper the development of the foetus or likely to cause miscarrage.
Often these rules and standards create unnecessary hindrances for female employees. Even these standards were criticised by various activists and employees as it limits women’s right to work.
Slammed by DCW and AISBIEA
The Delhi Commission for Women has raised serious concern over such rules and has issued notice against SBI to withdraw the rules. The DCW Chairperson Swati Maliwal wrote on called it to be “illegal” and “discriminatory.”
In fact, All India State Bank Of India Employees’ Association (AISBIEA) General Secretary K S Krishna also urged the SBI to withdraw the rule. He said, “The proposed amendment by the bank is fundamentally prejudicial and against womanhood. The proposed amendment will be unconstitutional as it discriminates against women, by treating pregnancy as a disease/disability.” (reported by Livemint)
Explaining further he said, the rules can’t force women to take make a choice between childbirth and employment. It further hampers both, her reproductive rights as well as her right to work.
The AISBIEA also asked to review the previous ‘six-month pregnancy standard’ as any willing woman at any stage of her pregnancy should not be denied employment opportunity.
Meanwhile, SBI has not given any official statement on this uproar.