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India – Law For Safer Workplace.

05 September, 2012

 

The Lok Sabha (Lower House) (“LS”) on September 3, 2012, finally gave its nod to the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2010 (“Bill”), to deal with the menace of sexual harassment at work place. The Bill which was pending before the LS since 2010 underwent a radical facelift, owing to pressures from various women organizations and critical reviews by the parliamentary standing committee, before being approved.

 

The Bill, which still has to get the Rajya Sabha's (Upper House) sanction, defines ‘sexual harassment’ to include “any unwelcome act or behavior directly or by implication of physical contact and advances, or a demand or request for sexual favors, or making sexually colored remarks or showing pornography or any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual natures”.

 

The most noteworthy aspect of the Bill is that it brings under its ambit “domestic workers”, whether employed full-time, part-time or temporarily for household work in any house for remuneration whether in cash or kind, either directly or through any agency.

 

Some of the key features of the Bill are:

 

  • Provides for safeguards against wrong or fallacious charges of sexual harassment;
  • Makes it mandatory for every employer to constitute an internal complaints committee at each office or branch with ten or more employees, to deal with cases and complaints of sexual harassment;
  • Enlists offences that will qualify as sexual harassment viz. making sexual remarks, demand for sexual favor, act of physical advance or an unwelcome touch, etc.;
  • Applicability of the Bill is wide enough to include not only employees but also clients, customers, apprentice, or daily wage workers who enter the workplace; and
  • Provides for penalties for employer for non compliance.

 

While women organizations and activists have welcomed the passing of the Bill, various other social interest groups have raised their concerns on certain aspects that have not been included or addressed in the Bill such as the Bill not protecting male workers against sexual harassment by co-workers.

 

 
For further information, please contact:

 

Abhijeet Das, LexCounsel
adas@lexcounsel.in

 

Swagateeka Patel, LexCounsel
spatel@lexcounsel.in
 
 

 

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