07/03/2015, 00.00
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Chinese firm planned to punish employees who had unscheduled children

A credit union in Jiaozou (Henan) told its female employees to get pregnant according to schedule to avoid too many taking maternity leave. If they did not they could be fined as well as lose their end of year bonuses and chances of promotion. After the issue made it on social media, the company backed off. For the local family planning commission, which enforces similar practices, the company’s draft policy “violates a female employee’s reproductive rights”.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - A Chinese firm told its female staff to get pregnant only 'according to agreed schedule' in order to coordinate the work during the months of pregnancy and childbirth.

The company, a credit union located in northern China, told its female employees that they must schedule in advance when they get pregnant. If they have a baby outside that period, they would be fined and could lose their end of year bonuses and chances of promotion.

The credit union in Jiaozuo in Henan province said it was important that women who have been married for a year or more to agree with the organisation when they could get pregnant so staff did not take maternity leave at the same time, the news website Hinews.cn reported. Women getting pregnant outside the schedule could face a fine of 1,000 yuan (US$ 160), the latter said.

“Finding a job is not easy. Everyone has no choice but to plan their pregnancies according to the notice,” one woman employee unhappy with the policy was quoted as saying. However, “No one can guarantee if one can become pregnant as scheduled. This policy is too inconsiderate.”

Given the fuss raised, an official at the credit union, who declined to give his name, told the website that the policy was proposed because the group had recently hired a number of young women and was worried that if many became pregnant at the same time it could affect the business.

He said the notice was only a draft and that the credit union would reconsider the policy if most people disagreed with it.

Family planning has been a key aspect of government population policy in Communist China since the late 1970s.

For Reggie Littlejohn, a major expert of China’s family planning, recent claims that the law would be liberalised are only a smokescreen to hide the fact that the policy continues to include threats, abuse and forced abortions.

Still, “To have to report to the company and queue to get pregnant according to schedule, that kind of guideline strictly violates a female employee’s reproductive rights,” an official at Jiaozuo’s family planning commission was quoted as saying.

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