Update: SBI withdraws controversial circular today after Delhi Commission for women intervened in the matter.
Original Story Follows:
State Bank Of India, One of India’s largest lending banks, has set in new recruiting guidelines for its women candidates. According to the medical fitness guidelines for recruits or promotees, a woman candidate is considered fit in case of pregnancy which is less than 3 months. This means that a woman with above three months of pregnancy will be considered “temporarily unfit” to join immediately and can join within four months post-delivery as per the medical fitness and ophthalmological standards for recruits and promotees dated December 31, 2021.
The revised amendments also state that this policy will be applicable from the date of approval i.e., December 21, 2021, for new recruitments. However, the revised standards concerning respective promotions of currently pregnant women employees will be effective from April 1, 2022.
In a blast from a regressive past, the SBI’s revised guidelines for employment, circulated on Dec 31, state a woman candidate who is more than three months pregnant will be considered temporarily unfit & she “may be allowed to join within four months after delivery of the child” pic.twitter.com/uPM9TEP3lH
— Ashlin Mathew (@ashlinpmathew) January 27, 2022
This decision has sparked serious criticism among certain quarters including the employed bank staff. According to the All India State Bank Of India Employees Association, General Secretary K S Krishna, the Staff Union has written to the SBI management insisting the immediate withdrawal of the new medical fitness guidelines.
The union has also submitted the removal of the earlier guideline on the appointment of up to 6 months pregnant women provided a fitness certificate from the consulting gynaecologist is furnished. Reiterating to allow pregnant women to take up employment at any stage, and no woman must be restricted from employment on the grounds of pregnancy.
Mr. K S Krishna further stated “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 or a disability.”
“It cannot be forced upon a woman to have a choice between bearing a child and employment as it interferes both with her reproductive rights and her right to employment, and such an action cannot have any place in the present modern era.”
Although the union is awaiting a response to the email sent to the SBI management, Mr. K S Krishna hopes that the new proposal will see withdrawal soon. When a similar proposal was put forward in 2009, the SBI management had to forcibly withdraw its amendment after a public clamour and uproar.
Pitching in to the recent developments, CPI Rajya Sabha MP Binoy Viswam has written to the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman voicing the withdrawal of the new recruiting guidelines issued by SBI regarding recruitment of pregnant women, stating, “it undermines women’s rights.”