Thursday, February 22, 2024

Law against sexual harassment at workplace comes into effect

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NEW DELHI: The law to check sexual harassment at workplace which prescribes strict punishment, including termination of service, for the the guilty and similar penalties in case of a frivolous complaint has come into effect from Monday.
The women and child development (WCD) ministry had come under attack for delay in implementing the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 which was brought in after the outrage over the December 16 gang rape case, despite the fact that it had received Presidential assent on April 22, 2013.
WCD minister Krishna Tirath informed the Lok Sabha on Friday that the Act has been notified on December 9.
The Act makes it mandatory for all offices with 10 or more employees to have an internal complaints committee to address grievances in a stipulated time or face penalty.
Sexual harassment cases at workplace, including against domestic help, will have to be disposed of by in-house complaint committees within 90 days failing which a penalty will be imposed and repeated non-compliance of the provisions of the law can even lead to cancellation of licence or registration of the organisation.
Sexual harassment at workplace may lead to termination of service of the accused, withholding of promotions and increments, and payment of reasonable compensation to the complainant. According to the rules, if allegations against the accused turn out to be false and after inquiry, are found to be made with a malicious intent, the complainant may face similar penal provisions as listed for the accused.
Sexual harassment, according to the law includes unwelcome acts or behaviour like physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favours or making sexually coloured remarks or showing pornography.
The law states every organisation should constitute an internal complaints committee which should not have less than two members amongst employees preferably those who have had experience in social work or legal knowledge.
It should have one member from non-governmental organisations or associations familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment and should be presided by a senior level woman employee at the workplace. 50 per cent of the nominated members must be women. (PTI)

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