Chinese bill would ban employers from asking questions about pregnancy status

China to ban employers from listing their gender preferences in job postings or asking applicants for marital and pregnancy status in proposed overhaul of old women’s rights law nearly three decades.

The country’s highest legislative body on Monday began considering a draft amendment to the Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women, in a five-day meeting that ended on Friday. The legislation was in first reading before the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and could be adopted as early as next year.

While gender discrimination is already largely illegal in China, the current laws are vague, which contributes to poor enforcement. The revised draft would provide explicit descriptions and provide a more precise legal landscape on issues such as sexual harassment, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Employers would be required to put in place mechanisms to prevent, investigate and respond to such complaints, according to a China News Service report, although the legal ramifications of not doing so are unclear.

Despite China’s crackdown on the local #MeToo movement as a vehicle for spreading liberal Western values, a growing number of women have spoken publicly about their experiences of sexual assault in recent years, defying a patriarchal culture that often brings shame on women. victims. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. earlier this month fired a woman who accused a director of sexual assault in a high-profile case.

China’s birth rate dropped to an all-time high in 2020, highlighting a looming population crisis for Beijing caused by a rapidly aging workforce, a slowing economy and the weakest population growth in decades . | AFP-JIJI

Job applicants detailed on Chinese social media and in court a wide range of discrimination in the workplace, including being forced to sign contracts pledging not to get pregnant as a condition of hiring them, according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released in June. One-fifth of China’s public service job vacancies in 2019 indicated a preference for male applicants, according to the report.

China’s decision in May to let couples have a third child, to fight a birth rate that hit its lowest level since at least 1978, put additional pressure on women workers, HRW said.

“The current law on the protection of the rights and interests of women needs to be broadened and strengthened as a matter of urgency,” said He Yiting, an official with the AFN’s social development affairs committee, according to the official Legal Daily.

Under the changes, educational institutions would not be allowed to reject female student applications or reduce the requirements for male students to meet gender quotas. In rural areas, women should have equal pay and land benefits, the bill says, adding that offenders could be prosecuted.

However, the changes include the caveat that exceptions can be made to comply with national guidelines in school or employment applications.

The revision is expected to undergo two more readings before being adopted next year. The Standing Committee is also considering other bills, including a review of China’s company law, which would formally enshrine the strengthening of the Communist Party’s leadership in state-owned enterprises.

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