Highlights of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention,Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 along with Compliances
Applicability of this Act?
This act extends to whole of India.
What acts are referred to as sexual harassment?
a. Physical contact and advances;
b. A demand or request for sexual favours;
c. Making sexually coloured remarks;
d. Showing pornography;
e. Other unwelcomed physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature;
f. Preferential/ detrimental treatment in her employment;
g. Threat about her employment status;
h. Creating hostile work environment;
i. Humiliating treatment affecting her health/safety.
When to constitute Internal Complaints Committee (ICC)?
ICC is mandatory for establishment employing 10 or more employees.
Every employer of workplace, by an order in writing, shall constitute ICC.
Composition of ICC:
1 Presiding officer – senior level woman employee of workplace
2 members – committed to cause of woman/ experience in social work or legal knowledge
1 member – from NGO/ other woman’s organisation/ familiar with sexual harassment.
Note: atleast half of the total members shall be women
Tenure of ICC:
Presiding officer and other members shall hold office for a period not exceeding 3 years.
Where to complain if there is no ICC?
Where there is no Internal Complaints Committee, in such cases the victim (survivor) can complain directly to the LOCAL Complaints Committee constituted by the appropriate government.
Every District officer shall constitute in the district concerned, a committee to be known as the Local Complaints Committee.
What is the process of Grievance Redressal?
Any aggrieved woman may make, in writing, a complaint of sexual harassment at workplace to the Internal Committee or the Local Committee as the case may be, within a period of three months from the date of incident.
Two ways of redressing grievance are:
a. Informal Process
b. Formal Process
What are the basis for determination of compensation?
(a) The mental trauma, pain, suffering and emotional distress caused to the aggrieved woman;
(b) The loss in the career opportunity due to the incident of sexual harassment;
(c) Medical expenses incurred by the victim for physical or psychiatric treatment;
(d) The income and financial stah1s of the respondent;
(e) Feasibility of such payment in lump sum or in instalments.
What are the obligations of an employer?
a. Provide a safe working environment
b. Display at the workplace, details of:
1. the penal consequences of indulging in acts of sexual harassment
2. composition of the ICC
3. the grievance redressal mechanism available to aggrieved employees
c. Organize workshops and awareness programs for sensitizing employees
d. Organizing orientation programs for members of the ICC
e. Cooperate and assist during the course of the inquiry
f. Treat sexual harassment as misconduct under the service rules
g. Provide assistance to the aggrieved employee, should she choose to file a police complaint;
h. Initiate action under the IPC or such other applicable law
i. Ensure timely submission of reports to the District Officer
What are the actions taken against respondent for sexual harassment?
a. Terminating the respondent from services
b. Undergoing a counselling session
c. Carrying out community services
d. With holding pay rise or increments
e. Written apology, warning, reprimand or censure
f. With holding of promotion
The Internal Committee or the Local Committee, as the case may be, shall in each calendar year prepare, an annual report and submit the same to the employer and the District Officer.
The employer shall include in its report the number of cases filed, if any, and their disposal under this Act in the annual report of his organisation or where no such report is required to be prepared, intimate such number of cases, if any, to the District Officer
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR NON – COMPLIANCE?
(1) Where the employer fails to
(a) constitute an Internal Committee under sub-section (1) of section 4;
(b) take action under sections 13, 14 and 22; and
(c) contravenes or attempts to contravene or abets contravention of other provisions of this Act or any rules made thereunder he shall be punishable with fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees.
(2) If any employer, after having been previously convicted of an offence punishable under this Act subsequently commits and is convicted of the same offence, he shall be liable to
(i) twice the punishment, which might have been imposed on a first conviction, subject to the punishment being maximum provided for the same offence
Provided that in case a higher punishment is prescribed under any other law for the time being in force, for the offence for which the accused is being prosecuted, the court shall take due cognizance of the same while awarding the punishment;
(ii) cancellation of his license or withdrawal, or non-renewal, or approval, or cancellation of the registration as the case maybe by Government or local authority required for carrying on his business or activity.
We have dealt with harassment complaints and also act as External members of ICC. For more information, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org