No Pregnancy Test, No Job

August 17, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: August 17, 2006 12:00 am

An increasing number of companies in China are now requesting female job applicants to take the hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) test. Commonly known as the pregnancy test, hCG test is a qualitative urine or blood test that confirms whether a woman is pregnant as soon as 10 days after the first missed menstrual period. Using the hCG test as a screening tool, these employers employ a female applicant only when she is confirmed not pregnant.

According to a Shanghai Evening Post report, a company in Shanghai requested a female job candidate to take a health examination including hCG test after she passed the interview. The candidate did not know it was actually a pregnancy test until she saw the examination report that confirmed she was not pregnant. Feeling embarrassed and insulted, the girl, a new college graduate, complained to the human resource department of the company. The department head explained to her that there have been cases in which young females were found to be pregnant right after they join the company, and their pregnancy affected the company's staffing plan. To avoid such situations, the company set up the policy of pregnancy screening on young female applicants.

According to a doctor from the Health Care Department of Huadong Hospital, a major hospital in Shanghai, the hospital conducts physical checkups on over 1,000 job applicants for over 20 companies per month on average. Among these companies, several require that the hCG test should be a routine item. A human resources agency manager stated that one of their clients required all female recruits take urine and pregnancy tests, and only non-pregnant females were employed. “They believe they have the right to know the physical conditions of their employees,” the manager said.

Government officials' reactions toward the pregnancy screening are rather ambiguous. Mr. Shi, a department head from the Shanghai Labor & Social Security Bureau, said that employers do have the right to know the physical conditions of their employees, but it is improper that the employers intertwine the pregnancy test with the ordinary checkup. He said that unless the employer provides proper reasons, requiring employees to take pregnancy test may be regarded as discrimination.