Pregnant employees should not be considered a disability

India’s largest bank has recently made headlines, not because of a huge overseas defaulter, but for its recent announcement on revised recruitment standards. According to the new rules that had been formulated, a candidate more than three months pregnant will be considered “temporarily unfit” to take office. Magnanimously, he had added that such a woman candidate could take office within four months of giving birth!

Predictably, there was a large-scale public outcry and the chairwoman of the Delhi Commission for Women, Swati Maliwal, tweeted calling the bank’s decision “discriminatory and unlawful as it could affect statutory maternity benefits”.

The SBI quickly withdrew the new guidelines, but failed to adhere to the genre, saying these new rules had been held in abeyance “in view of public opinion”. The statement also spoke of “certain sections of the media” interpreting the revised guidelines as “discriminatory against women”. The wording makes it very clear that anyone who had thought of this underhanded way of keeping some of the women out, was unhappy with the reminder of the revised guidelines.

Of course, there had to be some noise about how this gigantic bank is gender conscious, so the press note added that SBI has always been proactive in “caring for and empowering its female employees, who now make up about 25 percent of our workforce.” He also pointed out that during the Covid pandemic, according to government instructions, pregnant employees were exempt from coming to the office and allowed to work from home.

Apparently, as it stands, applicants up to six months pregnant are allowed to join the bank, provided they obtain a medical certificate stating that employment in this state of pregnancy would not affect their health. .

What is distressing in all this hubbub is that too often, a pregnant employee or a newcomer is considered a handicap. In so many ways overt or covert, workplace conversations are heavily charged against pregnant women and are met with groans, visible or invisible, by bosses, including women.

Of course, the absence, or imminent absence, of your star performer from the workplace for a period of time is an inconvenience. But then miracles, like bringing a child into the world, don’t just happen.

Fortunately, governments and employers have stepped up their support for new mothers, increasing maternity leave and widening its scope by allowing paternity leave as well. So the new mom can get back to work sooner, knowing that at least one parent is home to take care of the baby.

There is no doubt that a faster return to work after childbirth helps to reverse the disruption or stagnation of a woman’s career and we owe it to half of our population, which unfortunately is not half of our workforce in the organized sector, to give their best to their organizations.

weird case

When the discussion turns to pregnancy and support for pregnant women, we have to talk about the bizarre case of Charlotte Bellis, a pregnant Kiwi journalist working for Al Jazeera, who was struggling to return home because her candidacy got entangled in the New Zealand’s very strict MIQ. (managed isolated quarantine) for anyone returning to the country from a foreign country.

Tell his story in the New Zealand Herald, she says that after being told for years by doctors that she could never conceive a child, she found herself pregnant in Qatar. His partner is a freelance photographer who works for the The New York Times.

The problem is that in Qatar the law does not allow a single woman to be pregnant. He is from Belgium and the Schengen visa rules only allowed him to stay for a few months and she also had no health insurance.

While her attempt to return to her home country was thwarted by MIQ quotas and other technicalities, she ironically had to turn to the Taliban, as Afghanistan was the only country for which the two journalists had valid visas. Even more ironically, Charlotte was the journalist who asked the Taliban, at their first press conference after taking over the country, how they would treat Afghan women!

Well, reality is often stranger than fiction. According to her column, the Taliban, who publicly castigate Afghan women even for dating an unrelated man, gave them permission to return to Afghanistan, advising them to tell everyone they were married.

But she was terrified of giving birth in a country with poor medical facilities.

But luckily, after much dithering, the New Zealand government has now facilitated Charlotte’s return to her home country to deliver her child in a safe environment. This fortunately put an end to his trauma.

Published on

February 07, 2022

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