SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT WORKPLACE

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Readdressal) Act, 2013:

Definitions:

The law applies to:

  1. Domestic workers
  2. Daily wagers:- temporary or permanent
  3. Employees: full-time or part-time, as well as volunteers (unpaid interns too qualify under this Act)
  4. Women, who may or may not be employed and belong to any age group

Workplace Definition:

  1. traditional office set-up where there is a clear employer-employee relationship,
  2. organizations, departments, offices, branch units etc. in the public and private sector,
  3. organized and unorganized, hospitals, nursing homes, educational institutions, sports institutes, stadiums, sports complexes
  4. any place visited by the employee arising out of or during the course of employment including transportation provided by the office
  5. non-traditional workplaces, which involve telecommuting

Acts & Behaviour count as Sexual Harassment at the Workplace:

  • Physical contact or advances
  • A demand or request for sexual favours
  • Making sexually coloured remarks
  • Showing pornography
  • Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature

Acts & Behaviour done under following circumstances would also count as Sexual Harassment at the Workplace:

  • Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in employment
  • Implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in employment
  • Implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status
  • Interferes with work or creates an intimidating/hostile/offensive work environment
  • Humiliating treatment likely to affect her health and safety

Punishments:

  • Penalties range from 1 to 3 years imprisonment and/or a fine.
  • Additionally, with sexual harassment being a crime, employers are obligated to report offences under any situation.
  • Penalties have been prescribed for employers. Non-compliance with the provisions of the Act shall be punishable with a fine of up to INR 50,000.
  • Repeated violations may lead to higher penalties and cancellation of license or registration to conduct business.
  • The inquiry process under the Act should be confidential and the Act lays down a penalty of Rs. 5000 on the person who has breached confidentiality.
  • The Government can order an officer to inspect the workplace and records related to sexual harassment in any organization.