When was the Sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition & redressal) Act 2013 passed?
The Ministry of Law & Justice has passed the Act on 22nd April 2013. The Rules were passed on 9th December 2013.
What are the objectives of the said Act?
This Act is to Provide
- Protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace
- Redressal of complaints of sexual harassment
What is sexual harassment?
The Act in its Section 2n, defines sexual harassment. Sexual harassment includes any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour (whether directly or by implication), namely
- Physical contact and advances, or
- A demand or request for sexual favours, or
- Making sexually coloured remarks, or
- Showing pornography, or
- Any other unwelcome physical, verbal, non verbal conduct of sexual nature
Section 3 (2) of the Act further elaborates that if any of the following circumstances occurs or is present in relation to or connected with any act or behavior of sexual harassment among other circumstances, it may amount to sexual harassment-
- Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in her employment, or
- Implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in her employment, or
- Implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status, or
- Interference with her work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for her, or
- Humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety
Who is an aggrieved woman according to the Act?
According to the Act (Section 2a) aggrieved woman means
- In relation to a workplace, a woman of any age whether employed or not, who alleges to have been subjected to any act of sexual harassment by the respondent
- In relation to a dwelling place or house, a woman of any age who is employed in such a dwelling or house
What is the meaning of a respondent?
Respondent means a person against whom the aggrieved woman has made a complaint. (Section 2 m)
What is workplace according to the Act?
Workplace includes (Section 2o)
- Any department, organization, undertaking, establishment, enterprise, institution, office, branch or unit which is established, owned, controlled or wholly or substantially financed by funds provided directly or indirectly by the ppropriate Government or the local authority or a Government company or a corporation or a cooperative society
- Any private sector organisation or a private venture, undertaking, enterprise, institution, establishment, society, trust, non governmental organization, unit or service provider carrying on commercial , professional, vocational, educational, entertainmental, industrial, health services or financial activities including production, supply, sale, distribution or service
- Hospital or nursing homes
- Any sports institute, stadium, sports complex or competition or games venue, whether residential or not used for training, sports or other activities relating to it
- Any place visited by the employee arising out of or during the course of
employment including transportation provided by the employer for undertaking such journey
- A dwelling or a house
Who is an employee?
According to the Act (Section 2f), employee means a person employed at a workplace for any work on regular, temporary, adhoc or daily basis, either directly or through an agent, including a contractor, with or, without the knowledge of the principal employer, whether for remuneration or not, or working on a voluntary basis or otherwise, whether the terms of employment are express or implied and DRAFT includes a co worker, a contract worker, probationer, trainee, apprentice or called by any other such name.
Who is an employer?
According to Section 2g(i) of the Act, in relation to any department, organization, undertaking, establishment, enterprise, institution, office, branch or unit of the appropriate Government or a local authority, the head of that department, organization, undertaking, establishment, enterprise, institution, office, branch or unit or such other officer as the appropriate Government or the local authority as the case may be, may by an order specify in this behalf.
Further according to Section 2g(ii) of the Act, it is clarified that in any workplace not covered under the above explanation, any person responsible for the management, supervision and control of the workplace is the employer. Management includes the person or board or committee responsible for formulation and administration of policies for such organization.
Thus with regard to the above, the person discharging contractual obligations with
respect to his or her employees is the employer
According to Section 2g(iv) of the Act, in case of a dwelling place or house, a person or a household who employs or benefits from the employment of domestic worker, irrespective of the number, time period or type of such worker employed or the nature of the employment or activities performed by the domestic worker is the employer.
What are the duties of the employer?
As per Section 19 of the Act, every employer shall:
- Provide a safe working environment at the workplace which shall include safety from the persons coming into contact at the workplace
- Display at any conspicuous place in the workplace, the penal consequences of sexual harassments and the order constituting the ICC
- Organize workshops and awareness programmes at regular intervals for sensitising the employees with the Act
- Organize orientation programmes for the members of the ICC
- Provide necessary facilities to the ICC or the LCC for dealing with the complaint and conducting an inquiry
- Assist in securing the attendance of respondent and witness before the ICC or the LCC
- Make available such information to the ICC or the LCC with regard to the complaint
- Provide assistance to the woman if she chooses to file a complaint under IPC or any other law
- Cause to initiate action under the IPC or any other law against the perpetrator or if the aggrieved woman so desires, where the perpetrator is not an employee, in the workplace at which the incident of sexual arassment took place
- Treat sexual harassment as a misconduct under the service rules and initiate action for such misconduct
- Monitor the timely submission of reports by the ICC
What is the meaning of appropriate Government?
Appropriate Government means in relation to workplace which is established,
owned, controlled or wholly or substantially financed by funds provided directly or
indirectly by the Central Government or the Union Territory administration it is the Central government, while those by the State Government, it is the State Government. In relation to any workplace not covered as per the above, and falls
within its territory, the appropriate Government means the State Government.
(Section 2b of the Act)
What is the definition of unorganized sector?
The Act in Section 2(p) defines unorganised sector in relation to a workplace as an
enterprise owned by individuals or self employed workers and engaged in the
production or sale of goods or providing service of any kind whatsoever and where
the enterprise employs workers, the number of such workers is less than 10.
Who is a domestic worker?
According to the Act (Section 2e) domestic worker means a woman who is employed
to do the household work in any household for remuneration whether in cash or
kind, either directly or through any agency on a temporary, permanent, part time or
full time basis, but does not include any member of the family of the employer.
What is Internal Complaint Committee?
Every employer of a workplace shall constitute by an order in writing, a Committee
to be known as the Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) as per Section 4(1) of the
Where should the Internal Complaints Committee be located?
The Internal Complaint Committee should be located at all workplace. Where the
offices or administrative units of the workplace are located at different places or
divisional or sub divisional level, the internal Committee shall be located at all
administrative units or offices. (Section 4(1) of the Act)
Who are the members of the Internal Complaint Committee?
The Internal Complaints Committee shall constitute of the following members (Section 4(2)a, b and c of the Act) :
- Presiding Officer : One : a woman employed at a senior level at workplace from amongst employees (in case a senior level women employee is not available, the Presiding officer shall be nominated from the other offices or administrative units of the workplace. In case the other offices or administrative units of the workplace do not have a senior level woman employee, the Presiding officer shall be nominated from any other workplace of the same employer or other dept or organization)
- Members : not less than two : from employees preferably committed to the cause of women or who have experience in social work or have a legal knowledge
- Member : One : from amongst non governmental organizations or associations committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment
- At least one half of the total members shall be women.
What is the tenure of the members of the Internal Complaint Committee?
The Presiding Officer and every members of the Internal Committee shall hold office
for a period not exceeding three years from the date of nomination as member.
(Section 4 (3) of the Act).
Which members of the Internal Complaint Committee will be paid fees or allowances, why and how much?
The member appointed from amongst the non governmental organizations or associations shall be paid fees or allowances for holding the proceedings of the Internal Committee. (Section 4(4) of the Act) Section 3 of the Rules elaborates that the member appointed from amongst the non government organizations shall be entitled to an allowance of Rs 200 per day for holding the proceedings of the Internal Committee. Reimbursement of travel cost incurred in travelling by train in 3rd AC or AC bus and auto rickshaw or taxi or the actual amount spent by him/her, which ever is less will also be done.