A major Iranian state-owned company has told its single employees to get married by September or face losing their jobs, the press reported on Tuesday.
"One of the economic entities in the south of the country has asked its single employees to start creating a family," the hardline Kayhan daily reported.
The paper did not mention the name of the company but the reformist Etemad newspaper said that the firm is the Pars Special Economic Energy Zone Company (PSEEZC) -- which covers Iran's giant gas and petrochemical facilities on the shores of the Gulf.
"Unfortunately some of our colleagues did not fulfill their commitments and are still single," Etemad quoted the company's directive as saying.
"As being married is one of the criteria of employment, we are announcing for the last time that all the female and male colleagues have until September 21 to go ahead with this important and moral religious duty."
Sexual relations outside of marriage are illegal in Iran -- for the most part a traditional society where young people normally are encouraged by their families to marry in their 20s and swiftly bear children.
The country is also in the midst of an unprecedented moral crackdown which has seen tens of thousands of women warned by the police for dress deemed to be un-Islamic.
The directive -- signed by the head of security of the PSEEZC -- said employees' contracts will be annulled by October 22 if they are still found to be single.
The giant energy zone of refineries is located on Iran's southern coastal energy hub Assalouyeh where temperatures reach 50 Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) in summer.
The workers are usually young males seeking to earn a good income and the decree appears aimed at making them marry to ensure they eschew sexual temptations during their stay away from home.