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Iberia faces fine for 'compulsory pregnancy tests' for female recruits
NATIONAL airline Iberia could be fined €25,000 after a recruitment agency it appointed to seek temporary workers required a pregnancy test from all female candidates, according to the daily island-based newspaper Diario de Mallorca.
According to the Balearic regional ministry of work, this action counts as a 'serious breach' in relation to sex discrimination.
Iberia has countered these claims, insisting the pregnancy test responded to its 'specific health needs' procedures to ensure pregnant women they employed could be given the medical consideration they require, with a view to their own protection and not in any way affecting their jobs or career prospects in a negative way.
But work inspectors stress that Iberia has been calling for pregnancy tests for women employed all over Spain, not just in the Balearics, and that as well as the inequality aspect, it presupposes a lack of trust of potential workers and a violation of their privacy.
The company's justification is not valid, the work inspectors say, because it means a specific 'hurdle' for one gender and not for the other and could, in theory, be used as a way of screening and filtering out new staff – as in, Iberia may find another, prima facie legitimate excuse to avoid taking on women who turned out to be pregnant to hide the fact that staff members who are expecting were not required.
And it is up to female staff to tell Iberia – or any company they work for – that they are pregnant once they have already been taken on, as they are not obliged to beforehand unless they wish to.
Forced pregnancy tests take away from women their right to decide when, or if, to tell the company – even if they are pregnant, they may already have decided to opt for an abortion, to give the child up for adoption or be acting as a surrogate mother, and would by definition need to disclose the fact to the company if they also revealed the pregnancy – and their decision not to become parents despite testing positive is none of their company's business.
It is also an unacceptable invasion for women who are lesbians and would know for definite if they were pregnant, as they could not become so without realising, or women who cannot have children, since it effectively tells them the company taking them on does not believe this without intimate medical proof.
Iberia has been ordered to stop the requirement immediately and could still be fined even if it does so, but will face far more serious action if it continues to insist on the tests despite the ruling.
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