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Anonymous
1

After the Holi celebration, employees left for home. When they were going home, male employees tried to dance with the female employees of our company outside the office. What should I do as an HR in this case?
From India, Noida
Dinesh Divekar
7855

Dear member,

The festival of Holi is celebrated differently in different places in India. Apart from playing with colours, people also keep aside the strictness of office life and let their hair down. The mask of innocence may fall off a few. These people startle others when they start cracking jokes full of double entendre.

However, at times the people take advantage of the unrestrained atmosphere and develop undue closeness with the members of the opposite sex. A few go still further and engage in obnoxious activities.

In the case of your company, the male members tried to dance with the female members. Was it just a dance or still something else? A woman employee could have said no to the simple proposal for the dance and the matter should have ended there. The modesty of a woman does not get violated for merely proposing to an office colleague for the dance. We are in 2024 and the application of the parochial rules of the erstwhile times is misplaced.

Have you received a complaint from the female employees? If a formal complaint is received, then you need to look into the seriousness of the complaint. If it is a general complaint, then call both parties to iron out the differences. Also, investigate whether the male employee(s) exerted pressure on the female employee(s) to dance with them. Another point of investigation is whether the female employee(s) showed a cheerful willingness when the demand came for the dance but after the dance, they started feeling guilty for coming out of the cloister of conservatism and hence the complaint. The next point of investigation is whether the dissent between the two existed anyway and the demand for dance is being used as an alibi to settle the score.

If either or both parties hold to their position and are disinclined to reconcile, then order the domestic enquiry. If the female employee shows readiness to withdraw the complaint, then it should be unconditional and without any trade-off.

General comments: - Celebrations on the occasion of the festivals fall under employee engagement activities. The indirect objective of such celebrations is to allow the employees to develop social ties. But then it becomes challenging when these engagement activities sow the seeds of discord. The HR professionals need to issue the guidelines so that the spirit of celebration does not get diluted.

Thanks,

Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
varghesemathew
910

If it is outside the office,why should the HR bother about it.
From India, Thiruvananthapuram
tahseenraza
28

Dear Mr. Vargesemathew,
I would like to disagree on your viewpoint. aa HR professional, I believe this matter should be addressed promptly. If HR will not intervene and address the issue, employee morale will suffer and work culture will be affected. As we know company policy exclusively about company image protection, that apply on its employees even they are outside the office, and employee are still representatives of the company, And same here, in term of respect to their female colleagues, definitely, they should treat their female colleagues with respect but we need to analyze the situation which was mentioned by Mr. Dinesh in above response and also we should see the outlined company policies, values, and ethics. we need to understand, the individuals involved are employees of the company, HR needs to play a pivotal role in resolving this issue so the female staff could engage herself more and work culture could be promoted. Please correct me if I'm mistaken.

From India, Noida
Madhu.T.K
4193

If the female employees had given the HR a compliant, certainly, you should take action against those who misbehaved but without any complaint you should not take it in wrong sense. After all, dancing by both male and female together, is not that serious now a days.
From India, Kannur
mamta kumari
7

Dinesh sir has explained it very well..The most important thing is that did the girl make any complaint to HR? Does she discuss it with her?
Also there must be some defined norms before HR arranges any celebrations.

From India, Mumbai
PRABHAT RANJAN MOHANTY
581

As per the contents of post and without a formal complaint from the female employee doesn't matter for any action by the management.
Furthermore, the reported incident was happened outside the office,why should the HR bother about it. Moreover, in such event thr victims should lodge FIR.

From India, Mumbai
Dinesh Divekar
7855

Dear members,

While giving replies to the post, a few members have written that since the demand for the dance or the dance itself was done out of the company premises, the matter is out of the purview of the rules and regulations of the company.

Yes, theoretically speaking they are correct. I do not know the provisions of the POSH and whether these apply in the given situation I cannot say. However, I would like to see the incident under the tenets of HR Management.

If an employee commits a misdemeanour and if the victim of a misdemeanour is another employee, then the company's administration must step in. We do not know the facts of the case but it must be borne in mind that all women employees should feel safe while working in the company. The responsibility for their security should not be limited to the compound of the company's building. The company administration cannot wash its hands off when the incidents happen outside the company. The male employee must be called and given subtle hints of what can happen if the misdemeanours continue. While HR professionals may give feedback or even a stern warning, the higher officials may monitor the situation without coming to the fore. In such situations some amount of deterrence is necessary.

The HR professionals often talk about the employee engagement. Will any woman employee remain engaged if she is harassed by a male employee? What about other women? What value they will have about the company's administration?

For the Originator of the Post: - 4-5 days over since you raised the post and the learned members have given varied replies. The courtesy demanded acknowledgement of the replies. Sorry to note that graciousness has not dawned on you yet. Your silence speaks volumes!

Thanks,

Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
KK!HR
1530

There is a classical saying on the occasion of Holi, "Burra Na Mano, Holi Hai". Holi is the occasion for light hearted banter and some practical jokes. In our Office, they used to give titles to all employees, some of them were a little offencive to the sensibilities, yet all of us used to enjoy the fun and leave it aside thereafter.
The employer is not the moral code guardian and has no extra jurisdiction outside the office limits and cannot take action for anything done not listed as a misconduct. From the limited facts this appears to be not a case attracting POSH provisions.

From India, Mumbai
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