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Beijing hospital lifts rule requiring employees to apply to get pregnant after public outcry

A Beijing hospital has, in the wake of public outrage, lifted its decade-long rule requiring its women employees to apply for permission to conceive a child.

Authorities in the Tongzhou Maternity and Child Health Institute said they would return all fines previously collected and its leaders would issue a public apology to those employees affected, The Beijing News reported.

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Public outrage has been growing since Thursday after local media reported about hospital employees being fined for failing to conceive three months after receiving the hospital’s permission to have a child.

Under the rule imposed 10 years ago, both women doctors and nurses who planned to become pregnant were first required to submit an application to the hospital.

They were allowed to conceive only after receiving the hospital’s express approval. And upon receiving that approval, they were required to become pregnant within three months.

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If they failed to do so, they faced a series of penalties, including fines of more than 10,000 yuan (HK$11,600) and being banned from receiving promotions, pay increases and other benefits within three years.

One nurse told The Beijing News that she was fined more than 10,000 yuan for failing to conceive within three months of receiving the hospital’s permission to have a child.

She was informed about the rule when she started work at the hospital, she said.

A doctor told the newspaper that the rule was introduced to aid manpower planning and avoid shortages as there were too many women employees in the hospital.

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The newspaper cited an unnamed industry insider as saying that medical staff members had grown busier after the lifting of China’s decades-long one-child policy to allow families to have a second child.

But Beijing-based lawyer Wang Youyin said that working women’s reproductive rights should be protected and that such discrimination was common in workplaces where women employees formed the majority.

Tongzhou district’s health and family planning commission has sent a special team to the hospital to investigate the matter, the report said.

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