China to Stop Mandatory Hepatitis B Tests

by VR Sreeraman on Oct 12 2009 11:24 AM

China will stop mandatory hepatitis B tests for employees joining new companies and students enrolling in schools, state media said Sunday, after a court ruled the tests were illegal discrimination.

Deng Haihua, deputy director of the health ministry's general office, said the government would soon issue instructions to stop the practice, which is currently a requirement, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

"A hepatitis B disease carrier does no harm to others' health and the new practice will not increase the disease transmission," Deng was quoted as telling a news conference on Saturday.

A design company was ordered in May last year to pay a job applicant around 20,000 yuan (2,950 dollars) after it withdrew an offer because he had hepatitis B, according to the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin's website.

The Beijing district court judgment was the first time a hepatitis case was successfully litigated in China, according to the group, which monitors mainland workers' rights.

Previous cases were settled through court-ordered mediation or private agreements, it added.

The judgment was seen as a sign the 2008 Employment Promotion Law, which specifically outlawed discrimination against people with an infectious disease, had teeth, according to the China Labour Bulletin.