EQUAL employment opportunity guidelines drawn up by employers' associations contain significant omissions, according to legislators. The final version, a copy of which has been obtained by the South China Morning Post, does not cover discrimination on the grounds of political or social affiliations, which was included in an earlier draft. The guidelines, sponsored by five employers' associations, have already been adopted by three. They say no company should allow discrimination on the grounds of gender, age, marital status, religion or creed, race, nationality or disability. The earlier draft also banned discrimination on the grounds of social and political affiliations. Assistant director of the General Chamber of Commerce Dr Cheung Yiu-sing, who helped draw up the guidelines, insisted that political and social affiliations had not been included in the earlier draft. Therefore there was no question of them dropping the item in the final version, he said. This is despite an earlier admission by the executive director of the Employers' Federation of Hong Kong, May Chow Mei-yee, that the term was dropped because it was difficult to define. She said the list was not exhaustive and whether it covered political and social affiliations, pregnancy or sexuality was irrelevant. That was because the main aim was to emphasise to employers that employment practices had to be based on genuine job qualifications of employees. 'The list is not exhaustive and it cannot be,' said Ms Chow. 'If you say pregnancy has to be included, should we put in menopause as well?' She said pregnant women were already protected by the Employment Ordinance. But legislator Christine Loh Kung-wai said the lack of coverage on trade union membership and political affiliations was a significant and obvious omission. She said these areas appeared in most equal opportunity guidelines elsewhere. 'If you really want to have a good set of guidelines in place, it has to be encompassing,' she said. Ms Loh said trade union membership was essential to building social harmony, as was emphasised in the guidelines. Her colleague Ms Anna Wu Hung-yuk also urged the chambers to reconsider. 'Obviously, the employers' associations are concerned about including political affiliations in the guidelines,' Ms Wu said. She said religious faiths were more difficult to define than political affiliations and trade union membership was conducive to good employment relationships. She said that even the Government was prepared to include pregnancy in its bill. There was no reason why it had to be omitted. Ms Wu said pregnant staff should be protected against discrimination.