Job hunters seek positions and information at a career fair in Huaibei, Anhui Province. [China Daily]
Beijing has banned any form of gender discrimination in hiring procedures and encouraged employers to offer more support for female employees who have recently given birth.
The requirements came amid rising concerns over gender discrimination in the job market. The relaxation of the family planning policy, which since the beginning of 2016 allows all couples to have two children, has put women in a more disadvantaged position in the workplace.
Employers and human resources agencies may not include information such as "males only" or "males preferred" in announcements of open positions, except for certain jobs listed as unsuitable for women based on laws and regulations.
The new ruling was jointly released on Thursday by nine authorities including the Beijing Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau, the Beijing Municipal Federation of Trade Unions and the High People's Court of Beijing.
During job interviews, employers cannot ask female job-seekers' marital or fertility status, and they cannot question female applicants about future childbearing plans, according to the notice.
It also called on human resources departments and service providers to intensify checks on job fairs to guard against gender discrimination.
Employers and human resources companies could be fined up to 50,000 yuan (US $7,270) for such gender restrictions in their recruitment policies and offenders mentioning such restrictions will be entered onto a blacklist, it said.
Related government departments should accept and promptly investigate reports from female workers alleging gender discrimination and ask for face-to-face investigations with employers when warranted, the notice said. Beijing judicial authorities are encouraged to set up special arbitration tribunals on disputes related to women's rights and interests.
In addition, women should be offered better employment services and vocational training. Employers are encouraged to provide training programs to help new mothers better adapt to work, the notice said.
China has made great progress in promoting gender equality in the workplace, but discrimination still exists. A report released in May by Zhaopin, an online recruitment platform in Beijing, shows that married women with children are the least desirable demographic in the job recruitment market, and they are much less likely candidates for promotions.
Fifty-eight percent of 8,739 women surveyed in the report said that childbearing hampered their promotion chances and often made them feel trapped at a certain level of career advancement.
Forty percent of surveyed female workers said they did not take their allowed maternity or breast-feeding leave and that the indifference their employers showed to their childbearing issues created great pressure.
In March, Guo Jianchun, a national political adviser and vice-president of Hainan Normal University, also warned of "hidden gender discrimination" against women in the job market brought about by the universal second-child policy.
Guo said employers have become more inclined to hire men because women cost the company more during paid maternity leave. "It's particularly important to stipulate in laws and regulations the liabilities of employers if they violate gender equality rules," he said, adding that more policy support and financial aid for employers with a big proportion of female workers are also necessary.
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