Sexual harassment at Indian workplaces: Legal obligations of employers

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This presentation serves as a primer on India's new anti-sexual harassment law. More specifically, this presentation also outlines the legal obligations of employers towards women employees under the new anti-sexual harassment legislation.

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Sexual harassment at Indian workplaces: Legal obligations of employers

  1. 1. Sexual Harassment at Indian workplaces: Legal obligations of employers GameChanger Law Advisors
  2. 2. Law on Sexual Harassment at Workplaces  In 1997, Supreme Court in the case of Vishaka & Ors vs State Of Rajasthan & Ors laid down guidelines on prevention of sexual harassment at workplaces (“Guidelines”)  The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) Act, 2013 (“Act”)  Act notified on December 09,2013  The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) Rules, 2013 (“Rules”)  The Act and Rules will replace Guidelines
  3. 3. Applicability of Act..  All Workplaces  Workplace defined under Section 2(o) of the Act to include: • any private sector organization, enterprise, institution, establishment, society, trust, NGO, service provider carrying on commercial, professional, vocational, educational, entertainment, industrial, health services or financial activities including production, supply, sale, distribution or service
  4. 4. ..Applicability of Act • hospitals or nursing homes • any sports institute, stadium, sports complex/competition/ games venue, whether residential or not used for training/ sports/other activities • any place visited by employee arising out of or during course of employment including transportation provided employer for undertaking such journey • dwelling place/house
  5. 5. What Is Sexual Harassment?  Section 2(n) of the Act defines Sexual Harassment to include the following:  Any unwelcome behavior (direct or by implication) such as: a) physical contact and advances b) demand/request for sexual favors c) sexually colored remarks d) showing pornography e) any other unwelcome physical/verbal/non-verbal conduct of sexual nature
  6. 6. Obligations of employers under Act/Rules..  Framing of an Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy  To be notified, published and circulated within organization  When such conduct amounts to a specific offence under Indian Penal Code/ any other law ( such as Rape), employer to initiate action by filing complaint with appropriate authority  Establishment of complaint redressal mechanism within organization
  7. 7. ..Obligations of employers under Act/Rules  Disciplinary action when allegations of sexual harassment proved  Encouraging employees to raise any issue of sexual harassment  When outside party is alleged to have subjected employee to sexual harassment, employer to help employee initiate action against such person  Carry out employee awareness programs
  8. 8. Establishment of complaint redressal mechanism  Act provides for establishment of internal complaints committee (“Committee”)  Constitution: • headed by woman employed at a senior level at workplace amongst employees • half of the members to be women • to include third party-NGO/other body • 2 persons amongst employees committed to cause of women/ experience in social work/ legal knowledge  Term of committee : 3 years
  9. 9. What should the Committee do on receiving complaint? • If complainant wishes, Committee to settle the matter through conciliation • Terms of settlement to then be communicated to Employer to take action • If no conciliation is preferred, inquiry to be conducted by committee
  10. 10. Relief to complainant during inquiry  During pendency of inquiry, complainant may be transferred or given leave, if so requested  Person against whom complaint has been made can be restrained from reporting on: • work performance of complainant • academic activity of complainant, educational institution where organization-
  11. 11. What should Committee do on completion of inquiry?  A report of findings of committee to be given to Employer within 10 days  If allegation of sexual harassment is proved: a) Action to be taken according to Rules b) Compensation to complainant to be deducted from salary of offender
  12. 12. Action that can be taken against offender  Written apology  Warning  Reprimand  Withholding increments/ promotion  Termination from service  Undergoing counselling session  Carrying out community service
  13. 13. How should compensation be determined? Having regard to : a) mental trauma, pain, suffering and emotional distress caused to complainant; b) loss in career opportunity due to sexual harassment; c) medical expenses incurred by victim for physical or psychiatric treatment; d) income/ financial status of offender; e) feasibility of such payment in lump sum or in instalments
  14. 14. Submission of Annual Report  committee to prepare annual report  submit it to employer and the District Officer in the District where organization is situated  annual report to include: • number of cases filed • disposal under the Act • cases pending for more than 90 days • number of workshops conducted • nature of action taken by employer
  15. 15. Penalties  Act prescribes penalty for not a) establishing Committee b) submitting annual report c) submitting inquiry report d) taking action against false complaint/evidence  And for contravention of other provision of Act/Rules  Penalty: Rs. 50,000
  16. 16. THANK YOU.. For further information on this presentation, please feel free to contact: Amrut Joshi (amrut@gamechangerlaw.com) or Neha Rao (neha@gamechangerlaw.com)

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