Women NOT Availing Company Transport - CiteHR
Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Saswatabanerjee
Partner - Risk Management
Cite Contribution
Community Manager
Raj Kumar Hansdah
Shrm, Od, Hrd, Pms
+1 Other

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Hi Guys,

I am facing a situation at my workplace. My company (A BPO/IT) firm provides transport facilities, with additional security provided for women working after 8pm. However the rules for women transportation stand as follows:

1. Women CANNOT use their own vehicles after 8pm they MUST take the Company transport (2 violations of the said rule is thought to lead to immediate termination).

2. If they are not using the Company transport, they may ONLY be allowed to leave the Company premises IF they are escorted by their FATHER, BROTHER or HUSBAND. (God forbid that they

Now as a woman, who has been driving her own vehicle since the age of 18, I have repeatedly told the transport department and HR that I AM WILLING TO LEAVE ON MY OWN COGNIZANCE and have offered to provide them with a written letter or affidavit stating this, instead I have been told that as per the latest Karnataka Laws it is MANDATORY to take the Company transport after 8pm.

Is is legal for the Company to force an employee to utilize the Company transport, more so when she is willing to assume all the risks of travelling on her own and is willing to provide a statement to that effect ?

I have gone through the Karnataka Shops & Establishment Act and the Factories Act and there is no mention of any guidelines pertaining to women using their own vehicle. Please let me know if there is any specific statue or law that allows me to use my own vehicle

Please provide links or reference numbers of the law/statute/circular as I will be escalating this issue.

Kindly note that getting my brother, father or husband to escort me is out of the question as I do not have a brother, my father is deceased and my husband's office is 20 km away from mine (one way).

Your urgent help is solicited.
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Dear Atilla,
Considering the cases of sexual assault on women that have taken place in the past few years, these stringent rules are made. However, their strictness needs to be verified.
What are your shift timings? Where your office is located in Bangalore and how far your home is away from your office? What advantages you will get if you travel by your own vehicle? Is it 4-wheeler or 2-wheeler?
If you are insistent on going to home on your own then I recommend you one solution. You may find out the labour office of your area and discuss your problem with the labour officer. I foresee that he would recommend you availing company transport, yet he will tell you the exact rule circulated by Department of Labour, Government of Karnataka. If the rule is flexible then approach the HR department with the copy of this letter and find out what is their take on this matter.
Thanks,
Dinesh Divekar
Greetings,
This is the effect of implementing blanket rules without planning for pros and cons! Please find out if a Notary would help. I know IT Parks that need to abide by these rules, as dictated by the MIDC/Special Economic zones.
Not sure how many considerations can companies make on their own. However, a letter from a legal authority might help.
Wish you all the best !
Hi Dinesh,
Thanks for your response.
My only concern is that in the interest of saving themselves, the Company is resorting to Draconian measures, much like Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, will do as you suggested.
However if anyone finds the specific links/statutes/laws, it would be greatly appreciated. I am aiming to go back to HR with specifics so that they cannot give me a runabout.
Furthermore I feel that if you have given women the right to vote, the right to an education, the least you can do is to credit her with the ability to assess the risks of a particular course of action.
Dear Atilla,

You have written that "My only concern is that in the interest of saving themselves, the Company is resorting to Draconian measures, much like Saudi Arabia."

It would be unfair to comment or pass judgements unless one properly understands the context under which the rules are made. As of now you have not read the rule issued by Department of Labour, Government of Karnataka.

When an employer runs an organisation, he/she has to take into account safety and security of all the women personnel. While forced transportation might not suit you, it could be suiting other women employees very well. Cases of sexual assault are rarest, nevertheless even one such instance becomes ordeal to the woman employee and employer as well.

Rules are designed keeping in mind the interests of the society at large and exceptions are ignored. Therefore, you are jumping the gun by comparing the rule with some country in the middle east.

India is awash with news channels. To satiate their news hunger, these channels are forever looking a mole so that they can create mountain out of it. Employers cannot overlook this factor.

Show patience. Go to the department of labour, raise Right to Information (RTI) query on the rules of transportation for women employees, and obtain the copy of the rule. Please make opinions thereafter.

Thanks,

Dinesh Divekar


Dear friend
Apart from the notifications, orders, guidelines according to the prevalent Labour statutes, there are several Rules a Company may make for the sake of Legal Compliance or to safeguard the interest of its employees.
Rules are made for the majority of the employees, and there can a few notable exceptions.
However, it is up to the Company to relent or not. In case, the Company thinks that it is more judicious not to allow for any exceptions, then your do not have any other choice but to comply or break free of the Company, which feels that the safety of their employees is paramount and can not be compromised
If the Company is providing safe transport for its women employees in compliance with the Laws, then one should comply, rather than attempting to breach it for one's ego satisfaction or some minor gains and a few minutes of time saved..
Warm regards.
The guidelines for transportation of women was issued by the Karnataka government under the police act of something. The shop and commercial establishment act is not amended. Which is why you can not find it there.
I do no think the circular or the law can prevent you from using your own car to and from work. It would be a violation of the constitutional right to freedom and right to equality. Ask HR for a copy of the notification. Review it and you will know what the circular actually says. I have not read it unfortunately
Hi Dinesh,

Thanks for your input.

I am all for following the rules, which is why I am patiently seeking clarity through this forum and other channels. Sadly most of the posts on this topic have stated that an employer must seek a waiver if a female wishes to use her own transport, with no specifics being provided: Here's what companies should do to ensure safety of staff working in night shifts: Akshatha M - Citizen Matters, Bangalore News

Regarding the draconian comment, it was only because I had received a "We don't want to take any chances" response from HR, without providing any factual basis (if any). Please do not jump to the conclusion that this issue is being raised for the purpose of yellow journalism, or by an angsty, hysterical female desperate to drive her shiny car.

Continuing the discussion, you have stated "Rules are designed keeping in mind the interests of the society at large and exceptions are ignored". However those rules are not supposed to impinge on basic constitutional rights of freedom and equality. If you still think I am being a sensationalist ask yourself, what kind of an outcry would occur if men were barred from using their vehicles after 8pm because there is a chance that they may rape women in their vehicles ?

Thanks again for your help, I am following your course of action, however as you stated it is slightly drawn-out process. I assure you that till then I shall not be screaming in various channels nor picketing the office compound.

God Bless !
Further reading for those perusing this thread:
IT firms relieved as Karnataka government clarifies on security rules for female employees - timesofindia-economictimes
Update on the latest circular to provide security for women post 6:45pm.

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