NEW DELHI: After the backlash on social media following its new policy that said women who are pregnant for more than three months would be considered ‘unfit’ for recruitment, the State Bank of India (SBI) has decided to keep this decision in abeyance.
The bank said in a statement issued on Saturday that it would continue with the existing instructions, which allow women with up to six-month pregnancy to join the bank. The country’s largest bank clarified that it recently ‘reviewed’ the various fitness standards for recruitment, including norms for pregnant women candidates, and that the revised guidelines were intended to provide clarity on various health parameters where instructions were not clear or were very old.
Ruing the fact that sections of the media have interpreted the revision in norms as discriminatory against women, the bank said it has always been proactive towards the care and empowerment of its women employees, who constitute around 25 per cent of its workforce.
The SBI further said that during the Covid-19 period, as per government instructions, pregnant women employees were exempted from attending office and allowed to work from home. The SBI in its revised guidelines had said that women candidates who are more than three months pregnant will be considered temporarily unfit and would be allowed to join only four months after the delivery of the child. After the revised guidelines became public, it stirred a controversy, with many women calling out the discriminatory nature of the public sector bank’s recruitment policy.
Shiva Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi had even written to the finance minister requesting her to ask the bank management to recall the revised guidelines. Swati Maliwal, chairperson of the Delhi Commission of Women (DCW), issued a notice to SBI, seeking withdrawal of this policy. The DCW took suo motu cognisance of media reports and said the new guidelines are illegal, discriminatory and unconstitutional, as they infringe on the fundamental rights of a women provided under the Constitution. “It is not acceptable that a pregnant woman would be termed ‘Temporarily Unfit’ and denied work opportunities just because she is pregnant,” Maliwal said.