Women Empowerment and Safety

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Applicability:

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is applicable on all workplaces in India and as per the Act, workplace means “any place visited by the employee arising out of or during the course of employment, including transportation provided by the employer for undertaking such a journey.”

Workplaces whether owned by Indian or foreign company having a place of work in India includes government organization, private sector organizations, venture, society, trust, NGO, hospitals, sports institutes, places visited by employee.

Things to do:

  • All such workplaces where more than 10 workers are employed have to form an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) by an order in writing.
  • Where offices or administrative units of workplace are located at different places or divisional level, the ICC shall be constituted at all such units or offices.
  • The constitution of ICC is as follows:
  • Presiding Officer: women employed at senior level. If there is no senior women at other units, then senior women can be selected from any unit.
  • Not less than 2 members: from employees preferably committed to the cause of women or had experience in social work or have legal knowledge.
  • 1 member: from amongst NGO or associations committed to the cause of women or familiar with issues relating to sexual harassment*.

At least ½ of the members shall be women.

  • All members shall hold office for up to 3 years from the date of nomination.
  • *Person familiar with issues relating to sexual harassment’ may include at least 5 years’ experience as a social worker, working towards women’s empowerment and in particular, addressing workplace sexual harassment; familiarity with labor, civil or criminal law.
  • Employers (in case of company means any person responsible for management, supervision and control of a designated workplace) have legal responsibility to effectively communicate a policy on the matter, carry out awareness and orientation of all employees, create forums for dialogue, widely publicize names and contact details of Complaints Committee members etc.
  • Timelines: Complaint can be made by aggrieved women to the ICC within 3 months of the last incident. Thereafter, a copy of such complaint be forwarded to the respondent within 7 days of receipt of complaint. Inquiry be completed within 90 days. Thereafter, ICC shall submit the report to Employer within 10 days of completion of inquiry. The recommendation of the Committee shall be implemented within 60 days. Any person not satisfied with ICC recommendations may appeal in appropriate court or tribunal within 90 days of the recommendation.
  • One thing is very important that in the Act itself it is given that before initiating any inquiry and at the request of aggrieved women, the Committee can take steps to settle the matter between her and respondent through conciliation.
  • The ICC has same powers as vested in Civil Court under Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

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