A Chinese company plans to demand its employees seek approval to get pregnant and fine those who conceive a child without permission, reports said, provoking a media firestorm Friday.
"Only married female workers who have worked for the company for more than one year can apply for a place on the birth planning schedule," read a policy distributed by a credit cooperative in Jiaozuo, in the central province of Henan.
"The employee must strictly stick to the birth plan once it is approved," it added. "Those who get pregnant in violation of the plan such that their work is affected will be fined 1,000 yuan (S$217)," it said.
News portal The Paper published a screen shot of the document, adding a company representative had admitted the lender sent the notice to its staff but said it was only a draft seeking employees' comment.
Violators will not be considered for promotion or awards and their incentives and year-end bonuses will be cancelled "if their pregnancy severely hindered their work", the policy said.
The circular triggered scathing criticism from Chinese media, with the state-run China Youth Daily lambasting it as bizarre.
The company "does not regard its employees as living human beings, instead it treats them as working tools on the production line", it said in a commentary.
Official interference in personal matters has a long history in Communist China, with the "one child policy" birth control rules, which were imposed in the late 1970s limiting most couples to a single offspring, being the most well known.
Under the rule of Mao Zedong, workers normally needed their employers' permission to marry.
A worker at a different bank in Henan told the Global Times newspaper that their company asked staff for their pregnancy plans at the beginning of every year.