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SBI Withdraws Controversial Circular Stating Pregnant Women Unfit For Service

New Delhi: Growing protests over unfair discrimination has forced State Bank of India (SBI) to temporarily withdraw a controversial circular which deemed pregnant women ‘unfit’ for recruitment.

India’s largest bank, a public sector enterprise, said in an official release that it is keeping revised instructions regarding recruitment of pregnant women candidates ‘in abeyance’.

“SBI has recently reviewed the various fitness standards for recruitment in the bank, including norms for pregnant women candidates. The revised guidelines were intended to provide clarity on various health parameters where instructions were not clear or were very old. In some sections of the media, the revision in norms in this regard has been interpreted as discriminatory against women,” read the SBI statement released on Saturday.

SBI had earlier tweaked its recruitment rules, wherein female candidates who were more than three months pregnant would be considered “temporarily unfit”, but will be allowed to join service within four months post delivery.

Under pressure, SBI has suspended the revised rules, at least for the time being.

“In view of public sentiments, SBI has decided to keep the revised instructions regarding recruitment of pregnant women candidates in abeyance and continue with the existing instructions in the matter,” SBI stated.

The statement pointed out that women constitute about one-fourth of total workforce in SBI and that the bank has always been “proactive towards care and empowerment of its female employees”.

“During the COVID-19 period, as per government instructions, pregnant women employees were exempted from attending office and allowed to work from home,” the statement added.

Earlier in the day, Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) issued a notice to SBI seeking withdrawal of the circular.

There were protests from several other quarters, including All India State Bank Of India Employees’ Association.