SBI has decided to take back its circular on hiring of pregnant women
Facing all round criticism, the State Bank of India (SBI) on Saturday announced that it has decided to put in abeyance its circular on recruitment of pregnant women.
The country's largest lender reviewed its 'Fitness Standards for Recruitment in the Bank', including norms for pregnant women candidates. Under the new rules, a woman candidate with more than three months pregnancy will be considered "temporarily unfit" and can join the bank within four months after delivery.
The move evoked criticism from various quarters, including labour unions and the Delhi Commission for Women.
In view of the public sentiments, SBI has decided to keep the revised instructions regarding recruitment of pregnant women candidates in abeyance and continue with the existing instructions in the matter, the bank said in a statement.
In its latest medical fitness guidelines for new recruits or promotees, the bank said a candidate would be considered fit in case of pregnancy which is less than three months.
"However, if pregnancy is of more than three months, she will be considered temporarily unfit and she may be allowed to join within four months after delivery of child," as per the medical fitness and ophthalmological standards for new recruits and promotees dated December 31, 2021.
SBI said that the revised guidelines were intended to provide clarity on various health parameters where instructions were not clear or were very old.
Earlier members of Parliament namely including Binoy Viswam and Priyanka Chaturvedi had written letters to finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman demanding immediate withdrawal of medical fitness circular issued by SBI pertaining to the guidelines for the recruitment of pregnant women.
"It undermines women's rights," CPI Rajya Sabha MP Mr Viswam had said in his letter to the finance minister, while Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi had called the new norms as "extremely discriminatory in nature" and debilitates the progress made to empower women.
The Delhi Commission for Women earlier in the day had issued a notice to SBI seeking withdrawal of its new rules wherein a woman who is over three months pregnant will be considered "temporarily unfit" and she may be allowed to join within four months after delivery.
All India State Bank Of India Employees' Association General Secretary K S Krishna had claimed that a similar move was made in 2009 which after protest was taken back.
SBI claimed that it has always been proactive towards the care and empowerment of its women employees who now constitute around 25 per cent of the workforce.