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.