China proposes law to protect women employees’ rights

The new legislation, which is likely to come into effect in 2022, bans employers from asking women about their pregnancy and marital status

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The Chinese government has proposed a ban on employers placing gender preferences in their job ads, and also asking women applicants about their marital and pregnancy status.

This decision would overhaul a three-decade women’s rights law in the country. The draft amendment to the Women’s Rights and Interests Protection Law is currently being reviewed by the Country’s top legislative, in a five-day meeting. In all likelihood, the legislation will be introduced next year.

The current law on the protection of women’s rights and interests requires urgent changes and further strengthening for the future, because women job applicants in the country have shared that they are forced to sign contracts requiring them to state they would not get pregnant, in order to land the job.

The Human Rights Watch investigating the issue, also found out that 20 per cent of the job postings in China in 2019 clearly showed a preference for male applicants.

The revised draft will be more detailed and offer a more clear and precise idea of the legalities involved in issues such as sexual harassment at the workplace. The new law will make it compulsory for employers to set up proper response and preventive mechanisms to handle complaints at the workplace. What action will be taken against employers who fail to do so is yet to be announced.

Further, the law prevents rejection of candidature of girl students or compromising on the requirements and eligibility of boy students just to fulfil the gender quota. Women will, henceforth, in all likelihood, enjoy equal pay and land benefits. Failing to ensure this may attract strict action.

The revision to the Women’s Rights and Interests Protection Law is expected to go through two more readings by the Standing Committee before it is implemented in 2022.

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