State Bank of India, India's largest public sector bank, has revised its guidelines for recruitment norms, according to which it won't hire women who are more than three months pregnant. SBI, in its circular announcing the amendment dated January 12, 2022, clearly states that pregnant women candidates who are three months far along will be considered temporarily unfit for employment. With this move, SBI is going back on decades of progress, naturally drawing backlash.
"In case of pregnancy, which is less than 3 months, the candidate will be considered as fit. However, if pregnancy is of more than 3 months, she will be considered temporarily unfit and she may be allowed to join within 4 months after delivery of child," the proposed amendment read.
Prior to the amendment, SBI allowed appointment of women candidates up to six months pregnant as long as the doctor certifies that carrying out bank duties won't harm the foetus or the health of the mother in any way. The guidelines to recruit pregnant women were issued in October 2009, which marked a historic milestone as it withdrew a 30-year-old discriminatory norm.
Before the 2009 guideline, SBI's sexist norms required women candidates and serving women to undergo medical tests at the time of recruitment and promotion to determine whether or not they are pregnant. What's worse is that the candidates were required to submit a declaration with details of their menstrual cycle. The 2009 amendment changed all that, but the latest recruitment norms is considered discriminatory.
SBI faces backlash
Activists and netizens have reacted sharply to the latest amendment in the recruitment norms by the bank.
"Ridiculous! What's the logic here? I don't understand why organizations not work towards making the workplace more inclusive rather than idiotic "solutions" like this. And then they ask why women delay pregnancy or choose to remain childfree," Sheetal Sakpal, ex-Army officer, reacted.
"A demeaning and retrograde step. Must be reversed immediately," reacted another Twitter user.
"If true, this SBI change is hugely regressive and a clearly anti-women and anti-family decision. Women can work throughout their pregnancies. Get rid of this idiotic attitude. Don't add to the decline in female labor force participation!" Salman Anees Soz of INC India, said.
"The practice is discriminative against women and will be detrimental for women," said Jagmati Sangwan, former general secretary of All India Democratic Women's Association.
Attached below is the new circular with amendments: