Updated: 2009-03-05 21:00
BEIJING -- A civilian survey has shown that a rise in implicit discrimination against Chinese Hepatitis B (HB) virus carriers who apply for jobs at multinational firms.
At least 84 percent of the sampled multinationals in China require job applicants to take compulsory HB tests and provide the results to their prospective employers, according to the survey issued Thursday by Beijing Yirenping Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting social justice and public wellbeing.
About 44 percent of the multinationals said that they refuse applicants who are HB positive, while only 5 percent of the firms do not require applicants to take the medical test.
The Yirenping Center conducted the survey from October to December last year by telephone interviews with 92 multinational firms in 20 major cities in the Beijing-Tianjin area, Pearl River Delta in southern China and Yangtze River Delta in the eastern coast.
The multinationals come from diversified businesses such as electronic communications, machinery, food and drug manufacturing, chemical, transport and finance.
The center conducted a similar survey in 2006, two years before the enactment of the Employment Promotion Law. The first survey found that 77 percent of the multinationals refused applicants carrying HB.
Compared with the previous survey, the firms that showed overt discrimination against HB carriers declined from 77 percent to 44 percent. However, the firms that requested the test, but claim the results do not impact employment, rose from 19 percent to 40 percent. This practice is an implicit discrimination -- a loophole that lets companies continue to refuse HB carriers in employment.
The new survey found that multinational companies in China which request compulsory HB test and refuse virus-carrying applicants include Bosch, Citic Pacific, Nestle, Sanyo, Siemens, Sony, Toyota, etc.
The only five multinationals do not require applicants to take the tests are IBM, 3M, Gold Circuit Electronics, Santak Electronics and Carrefour.
China's top legislature approved the Employment Promotion Law in 2007, which specifically prohibits employers from refusing an applicant on the basis that he carries an infectious disease.
"It is very depressing to find overt and implicit discrimination after the employment (promotion) law has been in effect for one year," said Chen Jun, chief coordinator with the center who is a HB carrier.
According to the Food Safety Law enacted just last month, HB patients are prohibited from employment that involves contact with ready-to-eat foods. But this exception does not apply to any of the sampled multinationals.
The World Health Organization states that the HB virus is primarily transferred through child birth, shared syringes, blood transfusions and sexual contact. The WHO particularly emphasizes that the infection is not spread by eating or working with HB virus carriers.
"Obviously, request of compulsory HB test by those firms is against the law and they applied double standards for their worldwide employment," said Chen.
According to Chen, the reason why the survey targeted multinationals is because they seldom request applicants to test for HB in their headquarters or other countries and regions. However, in China, they not only require the test, but also eliminate HB virus carriers based on the test's result.
"The Employment Promotion Law alone is not enough to secure a fair opportunity for every employee. Many implicit discrimination cases could easily evade legal responsibility," said Wu Yuanming, an attorney with Beijing Zhongji Law Firm.
The center's chief coordinator told Xinhua that although the Employment Promotion Law has a special article to ban discrimination, more legislative efforts must be given to change people's bias against HB virus and infectious disease.
China's Ministry of Health reported last year that about 93 million Chinese, or 7.18 percent of the total population are HB carriers, but many medical experts believe there are more than 100 million carriers in the country.
The center has contacted two members of the ongoing 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) who have decided to hand in proposals calling for elimination of HB and other employment discriminations in the country, which faces an already grim unemployment situation.
China pledged Thursday it will implement an even more proactive employment policy this year and allocate 42 billion yuan to offset unemployment caused by the global financial crisis.
To create more jobs, the government will make full use of the role of the service sector, labor-intensive industries, small and medium-sized enterprises, and the non-public sector of the economy, said Premier Wen Jiabao in a report delivered to the second session of the 11th National People's Congress, China's top legislature.
Source Link: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2009-03/05/content_7542374.htm