New Delhi: Parliamentary approval was Tuesday accorded to a bill seeking to provide protection to women from sexual harassment at workplace, including millions of unorganised workers like the domestic help. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2012 was passed by the Rajya Sabha Tuesday. It was approved by the lower house in September 2012.

The bill covers under its list of offenses sexual remarks, demand for sexual favour, or any act of physical advance or an unwelcome touch. Moving the bill in the upper house, Women and Child Empowerment Minister Krishna Tirath said the bill will cover both organised and unorganised sectors and will include domestic workers.

"The aim is that women are able to work freely whether it is workplace in organised or unorganised sector," Tirath said. The bill mandates an internal complaint committee for any organisation with 10 or more employees. For an employer not following this, the penalty will be Rs.50,000. Repeated violations may lead to higher penalties and cancellation of license or registration to conduct business.

However, in the case of false or malicious complaint, the bill provides for action against the complainant in accordance with service rules and in any other manner in case no service rules exist. The bill covers not only employees, but also clients, customers, apprentice or daily wage workers who enter the workplace.

Its provisions will also apply to private sector organisation, societies, trusts, educational institutions, NGOs, service providers of commercial, professional or entertainment activities. It will also cover the unorganised sector where the number of workers is less than 10.

The bill covers under its list of offences sexual remarks, demand for sexual favour, or any act of physical advance or an unwelcome touch.

From India, Thiruvananthapuram
Binu, what is the process for implementation of the Bill? Will it form part of the 'Factories Act' or 'Shops & Establishments Act' enable companies to take various actions (example: 'constitution of an internal complaints committee')? Guidance on such issues may benefit many people who may not be knowledgeable on legal matters.
From India, Delhi
The Bill becomes a separate Act in itself once it is notified in the Gazette and does not form part of the Factories Act or Shops Act and contains directions on procedures with regard to sexual harassment of women at work places to be implemented by the establishments.
HR & Labour Law advisor

From India, Mumbai
The Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Bill 2012 is a long awaited act. Earlier the decision of Hon'ble Supreme Court in Ms Vishakha case has served as a guiding light and policy followed by the Government. The applicability of the Act to private sector covering all categories of establishments will certainly go a long way to empower women to be aware of their rights and ensure their own safety and honour. However there have been cases of false complaints. A complainant writes a complaint and sends to police, concerned state Commission for Women, NCW and to the authorities of the establishment where she is working. All of these start action on the complaint. This causes a lot of trouble to the accuesed employee. There are cases where female workers employed by a contractor file a false complaint to retain their job when the term of the contractor is about to expire and some new contractor is to take over. There is at present no rule to take action against such contract workers. Moreover the image of the accused employee gets tarnished. What remedy is there for it?

I hope this is a serious matter of consideration by all concerned.



From India, New Delhi
Suggest we wait for publication of the Act which, in my opinion, shall certainly have some provisions for misuse of the Act by the complainant, so that exploitation does not take place.
We have to accept that such Acts are valuable deterrents to reform all bad elements & protect the women workforce.

From India, Delhi

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