The Delhi Commission for Women on Monday issued a notice to the Indian Bank over its reportedly new recruitment policy under which female employees who are over three months pregnant are considered “temporarily unfit” to join the job.
The chairperson of the commission, Swati Maliwal, said that the action of the bank is discriminatory and illegal.
The new recruitment policy was issued by the Indian Bank in a recent circular, PTI reported on Wednesday.
“A woman candidate, who as a result of tests, is found to be pregnant of 12 weeks’ standing or over, should be declared temporarily unfit until the confinement is over,” the circular had said. “The candidate should be re-examined for a fitness certificate six weeks after the date of labour, subject to the production of medical certificate of fitness from a registered medical practitioner.”
The policy was condemned by the All India Democratic Women’s Association, which had also written to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
On June 17, the Indian Bank said that it gives paramount importance to the care and empowerment of women employees, which according to the lender are 29% of its workforce.
“The instructions for pregnant woman candidates for joining formalities were based on supervisory guidelines and have not undergone any modification/change,” the bank said in a statement. “No female employee has thus far been denied employment by Indian Bank on the ground of pregnancy.”
The bank added that it was taking the necessary steps to issue more clarity on the matter.
In Monday’s letter, Maliwal urged the bank to withdraw the said guidelines and to provide complete details about how the policy was framed along with its approving authority.
“This is a very serious matter,” Maliwal wrote. “It discriminates on the basis of sex which is against the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India.”
Maliwal also wrote a letter to the Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das.
“It appears that banks are issuing these anti-women guidelines and many other banks may do the same until they are specifically discouraged from doing so,” she said. “We request your good office to kindly issue directions to all banks in the country, refraining them from making such illegal and unconstitutional rules which discriminate against women.”
In December, a similar rule for pregnant women was announced by the State Bank of India but was subsequently withdrawn after widespread criticism.