Sexual harrassment note


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With the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 coming into force from December 2013, all organizations (yes all) should have a policy on sexual harassment and also have a committee to redress.

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Sexual harrassment note

  1. 1. Sexual Harassment of Women Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
  2. 2. Effective date of the Act The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is effective w.e.f. 9 December 2013. Is the relief under this act is limited to any employee in the same organization? No. The relief is provided to the woman, even if the perpetrator is not an employee. Does it cover the women employed in unorganized sector? Yes, it also seeks to provide relief to women employed in houses for doing household work for remuneration, whether in cash or kind, either directly or through any agency on a temporary, permanent, part time or full time basis . For e.g. house maids. What is meant by sexual harassment ? Any act or behavior (whether directly or by implication), which is unwelcome by a woman is sexual harassment. It includes the following acts: • Physical contact and advances • A demand or request for sexual favors • Making sexually colored remarks • Showing pornography • Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal of sexual nature Moreover all the following circumstances related to sexual harassment also amounts to sexual harassment: • Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in her employment • Implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in her employment • Implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status • Interference with her work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for her • Humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety What are the duties of an employer under the Act? • Providing a safe working environment at workplace • Displaying the penal consequences of sexual harassments in a conspicuous position at workplace and the constitution of internal Complaints Committee • Organizing workshops and awareness programs at regular intervals for sensitizing employees and orientation programs for the members of Internal Complaints Committee • Providing necessary facilities too Internal/Local Committee for dealing with complaint and for conducting an enquiry • Assist in securing the attendance of attendance of respondent and witness before the Internal/Local complaints Committee. • Making information available to the Committee , as it may require regarding any complaint filed by any aggrieved woman. • Provide assistance to the woman, if she want to file complaint under Indian Penal Code or any other law for the time
  3. 3. being in force. Who is an employee? Who is an aggrieved woman? It means the following: • In relation to a workplace, a woman of any age whether employed or not, who alleges sexual harassment • In relation to a dwelling place or house, a woman of any age who is employed at such place. What are the Committees which looks after such complaints? Who is required to constitute Internal Complaints Committee? • Every employer of a workplace must constitute Internal Complaints Committee • If there are more than one administrative unit/office, then such a Committee has to be formed at each such unit/office. • Any aggrieved woman working at such workplace can file a complaint with this Committee. • Unorganized sector is not required to constitute this Committee. What is the constitution of Internal Complaints Committee? All the following members have to be nominated by the employer: • Presiding Officer – should be a woman employed at a senior level amongst all the employees at workplace. • At least 2 members amongst employees, who are committed to the cause of women or have had experience in social work or have legal knowledge. • one member from NGO’s or associations committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment Note: Half (50%) of the committee members should be women. A person who is employed at a workplace for any work on regular, temporary, ad hoc or daily wage basis Either directly or through an agent, whether with or without the knowledge of principal employer For a remuneration or no remuneration Working on a voluntary basis or otherwise Whether the terms of employment are express or implied And includes a co-worker, a contract worker, probationer, trainee, apprentice or called by any other such name Internal Complaints Committee Local Complaints Committee To be formed by every employer at workplace To be formed by every District Officer
  4. 4. What is the term of office of the members of Internal Complaints Committee? Presiding Officer and every member of the Committee shalln’t hold more than 3 years, from the date of nomination by employer. What is Local Complaints Committee? • Every District Officer shall constitute a local Complaints Committee to receive complaints of sexual harassment from establishments where the Internal Complaints Committee couldn’t be formed due to less than 10 workers or if the complaint is against the employer itself. Note: Appropriate Government may notify a District Magistrate or Additional District Magistrate or the Collector or Deputy Collector as a District Officer for every district to exercise powers and functions as per this Act. • Women working in unorganized sector have to go to Local Complaints Committee for relief. Note: Unorganized sector means an enterprise owned by individuals or self employed workers and engaged in the production or sale of goods or providing service of any kind and where the number of workers are less than 10. How can a woman make a complaint? An aggrieved woman shall make a sexual harassment complaint in writing to the Internal Committee(if not), to Local Committee, within 3 months from the date of incident and in case there are series of incidents, then within 3 months from the date of last incident. If the complaint can’t be made in writing, then the concerned Committee shall provide all assistance to the woman for making the complaint in writing. Can the complaint be made after 3 months? Yes, the concerned committee can extend the time period by 3 months, if it is satisfied that there were genuine circumstances because of which the woman couldn’t file complaint within 3 months. Can the complaint be made by legal heir? The complaint may be made by legal heir, if the woman is unable to make a complaint because of her physical or mental incapacity or death or otherwise. Can the matter of sexual harassment be settled amongst the parties through conciliation? Yes, if the aggrieved woman requests the Internal/Local Committee for settling the matter through conciliation between her and the respondent. The process is as follows: • The Committee shall record the settlement arrived and provide the copies of the same to the woman and respondent. • After arriving at a settlement, the concerned Committee shall forward the same to the employer/ District Officer to take the requisite action as per the settlement arrived. Note: Monetary settlement is prohibited.
  5. 5. What is the process of inquiry of sexual harassment complaint? Note: The above procedure is also available to an aggrieved woman, where the respondent doesn’t comply with the settlement arrived. How is the inquiry conducted if there are no service rules? Company should have a policy or rules for the Committee to conduct an inquiry. Service Rules may not be available for certain segment of workers (ex. Domestic servants) where Local Committee will report to the Police. What are the powers of Internal/Local Committee, while inquiring? The Committee shall have the same powers as are vested in a Civil Court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. What relief is available to aggrieved woman during the pendency of complaint? The woman can request for the following from the Committee during the pendency of complaint: • Transfer her or the respondent to any other workplace • Granting leave upto 3 months • To restrain the respondent from reporting on the work performance of the aggrieved woman or writing her confidential report and assign the same to another officer • To restrain the respondent in case of an educational institution from supervising any academic activity of the aggrieved woman. Committee to submit report annual report Internal/Local Complaint Committee shall submit an annual report to employer/District Officer on How is the information of sexual harassment information disclosed? Aggrieved woman If employed at a workplace, file complaint with If employed in unorganized sector, file complaint with Within 3 months from the incident Internal Complaint Committee Local Complaint Committee Inquiry as per Service rules, if the respondent is employee Forward the complaint to Police, if a prima facie case exists. Inquiry shall be completed within 90 days Forward the Inquiry report to Employer and to the parties concerned Forward the Inquiry report to District Officer and to the parties concerned Employer to take action within 60 days District Officer to take action within 60 days
  6. 6. The employer shall include the number of cases filed (if any) and their disposal in the Annual Report of the Company. What is the punishment for non- compliance of the Act? An employer shall be punishable with a fine, which may extend to Rs. 50,000.
  7. 7. POLICY ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF EMPLOYEES IN ………………………. PRIVATE LIMITED 1.0 POLICY 1.1 The ……………… PRIVATE LIMITED, (XYZ), is an equal employment opportunity company and is committed to creating a healthy working Environment that enables employees to work without fear of prejudice, gender bias and sexual harassment. The Company also believes that all employees of the Company, have the right to be treated with dignity. Sexual harassment at the work place or other than work place if involving employees is a grave offence and is, therefore, punishable. 1.2 The Supreme Court has also directed Companies to lay down guidelines and a forum for redressal of grievances related to sexual Harassment. 2.0 SCOPE AND EFFECTIVE DATE 2.1 This Policy extends to all employees of the Company and is deemed to be incorporated in the service conditions of all employees and comes into effect immediately. 2.2 Sexual harassment would mean and include any of the following: i) unwelcome sexual advances, requests or demand for sexual favours, either explicitly or implicitly, in return for employment, promotion, examination or evaluation of a person towards any company activity; ii) unwelcome sexual advances involving verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct such as sexually coloured remarks, jokes, letters, phone calls, e- mail, gestures, showing of pornography, lurid Stares, physical contact or molestation, stalking, sounds, display of pictures, signs, verbal or non- verbal communication which offends the Individuals sensibilities and affect her/his performance; iii) eve teasing, innuendos and taunts, physical confinement against one’s will and likely to intrude upon one’s privacy; iv) act or conduct by a person in authority which creates the environment at workplace hostile or intimidating to a person belonging to the other sex; v) conduct of such an act at work place or utside in relation to an Employee of XYZ, or vice versa during the course of employment; and vi) any unwelcome gesture by an employee having sexual overtones 2.3 “Employee” means any person on the rolls of the Company including those on deputation, contract, temporary, part time or working as consultants. 3.0 COMPLAINT REDRESSAL COMMITTEE 3.1 A Committee has been constituted by the Management to consider and redress complaints of Sexual Harassment. The Chairman and Members of the Committee are as follows: Committee 1. Ms ……………..Chairperson 2. Ms. ……………… Member
  8. 8. 3. Mr. …………………. Member 4. Concerned Ethics Officers at locations- Member 3.2 A quorum of 3 members is required to be present for the proceedings to take place. The quorum shall include the Chairperson, at least two members, one of whom shall be a lady. 4.0 REDRESSAL PROCESS 4.1 Any employee who feels and is being sexually harassed directly or indirectly may submit a complaint of the alleged incident to any member of the Committee in writing with his/ her signature within 10 days of occurrence of incident. 4.2 The Committee will maintain a register to endorse the complaint received by it and keep the contents confidential, if it is so desired, except to use the same for discreet investigation. 4.3 The Committee will hold a meeting with the Complainant within five days of the receipt of the complaint, but no later than a week in any case. 4.4 At the first meeting, the Committee members shall hear the Complainant and record her/his allegations. The Complainant can also submit any corroborative material with a documentary proof, oral or written material, etc., to substantiate his / her complaint. If the Complainant does not wish to depose personally due to embarrassment of narration of event, a lady officer for lady employees involved and a male officer for male employees, involved shall meet and record the statement. 4.5 Thereafter, the person against whom complaint is made may be called for a deposition before the Committee and an opportunity will be given to him / her to give an explanation, where after, an “Enquiry” shall be conducted and concluded. 4.6 In the event, the complaint does not fall under the purview of Sexual Harassment or the complaint does not mean an offence of Sexual Harassment, the same would be dropped after recording the reasons thereof. 4.7 In case the complaint is found to be false, the Complainant shall, if deemed fit, be liable for appropriate disciplinary action by the Management. 5.0 ENQUIRY PROCESS 5.1 The Committee shall immediately proceed with the Enquiry and communicate the same to the Complainant and person against whom complaint is made. 5.2 The Committee shall prepare and hand over the Statement of Allegation to the person against whom complaint is made and give him / her an opportunity to submit a written explanation if she / he so desires within 7 days of receipt of the same. 5.3 The Complainant shall be provided with a copy of the written explanation submitted by the person against whom complaint is made. 5.4 If the Complainant or the person against whom complaint is made desires any witness/es to be called, they shall communicate in writing to the Committee the names of witness/es whom they propose to call. 5.5 If the Complainant desires to tender any documents by way of evidence before the Committee, she / he shall supply original copies of such documents. Similarly, if the person against whom complaint is made desires to
  9. 9. tender any documents in evidence before the Committee he /she shall supply original copies of such documents. Both shall affix his / her signature on the respective documents to certify these to be original copies. 5.6 The Committee shall call upon all witnesses mentioned by both the parties. 5.7 The Committee shall provide every reasonable opportunity to the Complainant and to the person against whom complaint is made, for putting forward and defending their respective case. 5.8 The Committee shall complete the “Enquiry” within reasonable period but not beyond three months and communicate its findings and its recommendations for action to the VP-HR. The report of the committee shall be treated as an enquiry report on the basis of which an erring employee can be awarded appropriate punishment straightaway. 5.9 The VP-HR will direct appropriate action in accordance with the recommendation proposed by the Committee. 5.10 The Committee shall be governed by such rules as may be framed by the Supreme Court orders or any other legislation enacted later on. 6.0 OTHER POINTS TO BE CONSIDERED 6.1 The Committee may recommend to the VP- HR action which may include transfer or any of the other appropriate disciplinary action. 6.2 The management shall provide all necessary assistance for the purpose of ensuring full, effective and speedy implementation of this policy. 6.3 Where sexual harassment occurs as a result of an act or omission by any third party or outsider, XYZ shall take all steps necessary and reasonable to assist the affected person in terms of support and preventive action. 6.4 The Committee shall analyse and put up report on all complaints of this nature at the end of the year for submission to VP- HR. 6.5 In case the Committee find the degree of offence coverable under the Indian Penal Code, then this fact shall be mentioned in its report and appropriate action shall be initiated by the Management, for making a Police Complaint.