China: Fines for pregnancy without permission
Workers at a finance firm in Henan province have reportedly been told they must apply for a “place on the birth-planning schedule” – and only those that have been employed for over a year will be considered.
Those who became pregnant without approval may be penalised.
The plan has been heavily criticised on social networks and in the media.
The firm, in Jiaozuo, has recently hired a lot of young women and is said to have been concerned they would all go on maternity leave at the same time.
A representative of the firm admitted it had circulated the plan to staff, according to news portal The Paper. However, the official said the plan was only a draft that was intended to invite comment from employees.
A commentator in the state-run China Youth Daily said the company regarded its workers as “tools on the production line” rather than human beings.
Employees are also unhappy, with one complaining it was impossible to guarantee that a pregnancy would follow the schedule set by the company.
“Only married female workers who have worked for the company for more than one year can apply for a place on the birth planning schedule,” read a policy distributed by the credit co-operative.
“The employee must strictly stick to the birth plan once it is approved. Those who get pregnant in violation of the plan such that their work is affected will be fined 1,000 yuan (£100).”
Violators will not be considered for promotion or awards and their incentives and year-end bonuses will be cancelled “if their pregnancy severely hindered their work”, the policy said.
The Paper published a screen shot of the document, adding a company representative had admitted the lender sent the notice to its staff but that it was only a draft seeking employees’ comment.
The circular triggered scathing criticism from Chinese media, with China Youth Daily lambasting it as bizarre. The company “does not regard its employees as living human beings, instead it treats them as working tools on the production line”, it said.
Official interference in personal matters has a long history in Communist China, with the “one child policy” birth control rules, which were imposed in the late 1970s and limited most couples to a single offspring, being the most well known.
Under the rule of Mao Zedong, workers normally needed their employers’ permission to marry.