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Applicability & compliances of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013

Applicability & compliances of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013

Legal & Compliance

Anil Ganga

Anil Ganga

22 Dec 2021, 11:48 — 12 min read

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (hereafter referred as “Act”) is a Central Government legislation to provide protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and for the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

 

Sexual harassment results in violation of the fundamental rights of a woman to equality under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India and her right to life and to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution and right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business with includes a right to a safe environment free from sexual harassment.

 

Applicability

This Act extends to the whole of India and applicable to all workplaces, establishments, offices, organizations, factories, institutions, shops, branches etc whether government or private irrespective of number of employees or activities or turnover.

 

Meaning of sexual harassment

As per Section 2(n) “Sexual Harassment” includes any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour (whether directly or by implication) namely: -

(i) physical contact and advances; or

(ii) a demand or request for sexual favours; or

(iii) making sexually coloured remarks; or

(iv) showing sexual; or

(v) any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.

 

Constitution of Internal Complaints Committee

Every employer of workplace shall by an order in writing constitute Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). If there is more than one office, units or branches or workplace located at different places, then ICC shall be constituted at all such places / branches where there are 10 (Ten) or more workers / employees.

 

Committee shall consist the following to be nominated by Employer.

S No

Designation

Qualification

Number of Members

1

Presiding Officer / Chairman of the Committee

Shall be the women employee at senior level among the employees

1

2

Minimum two Members from employees

Shall be committed to the cause of women or had experience in social work or have legal knowledge.

 

2

3

One member from NGOs or Associations

Shall work for the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment?

 

1

Total Members of ICC

4

 

Point to Note

  1. There must be Minimum 4 members in the ICC including Presiding Officer / Chairman of the Committee and there can be more than 4.
  2. But at least one-half (50%) of the Committee shall be women.
  3. The Committee term is 3 years or less as may be decided by the employer.
  4. Member from NGO can be paid fees or allowances.

 

District Officer

As per Section -5 of the Act, the Government notify a District Magistrate or Additional District Magistrate or the Collector or Deputy Collector as a District Officer for every District to exercise powers or discharge functions under this Act.

 

District Collector: Most of the State Governments have had designated District Collector as District Officers.

 

Complaint of sexual harassment

  • The aggrieved women may complaint in writing to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), or Local Committee (LC) where there is no ICC within 30 days of Incident.
  • The ICC or LC may extend the time by 3 months, if it is satisfied.

 

Duties of employer

As per Section 19, every employer shall:

  • Provide a safe working environment
  • Display at prominent places the consequences of sexual harassments, the order constituting the Internal Committee and names & contact details of ICC in English and regional language.
  • Organise workshops and awareness programmes to employees
  • Orientation programmes for the members of ICC
  • Provide necessary facilities to the ICC
  • Provide assistance to the woman if she chooses to file a complaint in relation to the offence under the Indian Penal Code (IPC)
  • Treat sexual harassment as a misconduct under the service rules and initiate action for such misconduct
  • Monitor the timely submission of reports by the Internal Committee.
  • Others

 

Annual Report

As per Section 21(1), the ICC shall prepare and submit the Annual Report to the employer and the District Officer in each calendar year.

There is no time limit provided in the Act for submission of Annual Report to the District Officer. Generally Annual Report can be submitted in the Month of January for the previous year to the District Collector of respective District and get acknowledgement for evidence of Compliance.

 

Alternatively, the Employer can also post the Annual Report by Registered Post Acknowledgement Due (RPAD).

 

Employer to include information in Annual Report

Pursuant to Section 22 of the Act, the employer shall include in his Company / Corporate / Organization Annual Report about the number of complaints received, disposed and pending.

 

Penalty

  • If the employer fails to comply with the Act and Rules, then he shall be punishable with fine which may extend to 50,000/-
  • If the employer subsequently commits the non-compliance, then the fine may be twice the punishment, which might have been imposed on a first conviction.
  • Such non-compliance may also attract Penalties or/ and punishments under any other Laws in force including IPC.
  • The Government or Local Authority may cancel the Licenses, Registrations of the Business or activity of the Employer.

 

Rules

Most of the State Governments have had framed the Rules under The Sexual Harassment of Women At Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition And Redressal) ACT, 2013. Therefore, such Rules shall also be followed based on the location of the Workplace / Office / Branch / Factory.

 

Anti-sexual harassment policy

The employer shall have an Anti-sexual Harassment Policy in place covering the following points.

  1. Brief of the Act
  2. Meaning of sexual harassment
  3. Zero-tolerance at work place
  4. Employer order for Constitution of ICC of each work place / Branch
  5. About the committee and contact details of Members
  6. Complaint mechanism
  7. Duties of employer, employees and committee
  8. Awareness Programmes to Employees
  9. Orientation to committee members
  10. Accessibility of policy
  11. Review of the policy and amendments

 

Annual Report

The Annual Report that shall be prepared by the ICC shall contain the following coverage:

  1. About the Company / Employer
  2. Brief about Anti-sexual Harassment Policy or Prevention of Sexual Harassment Policy
  3. Brief about the Committee Members
  4. Brief about the Committee Meetings
  5. Brief about the Records and Committee Minutes
  6. Complaints received
  7. Complaints disposed
  8. Number of complaints pending for more than 90 days
  9. Number of workshops or awareness programmes conducted during the calendar year
  10. Nature of action taken by the employer or District officer
  11. Complaints filed under IPC or any other Act for the time being in force.

 

Records & documents that shall be maintained

  1. Register of seminars and workshops conducted in a year for Employees and Workers
  2. Register of Orientation programmes conducted for ICC Members
  3. Prevention of Sexual Harassment Policy
  4. Documents like complaints, replies, action taken to the complaints
  5. Notices, Minutes and Proceedings of ICC
  6. CCTV footage, if available for any sexual harassment at workplace.

 

Checklist for compliance

The following is the simple compliance checklist to check the compliance under

 

The Sexual Harassment Of Women At Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition And Redressal) Act, 2013.

S No

Compliance Required

Compliance Status

Yes / No

Remarks

Policies, Orders & ICC Meetings

 

1

Whether Prepared and implemented an internal Anti-sexual Harassment Policy?

 

 

 

2

Whether Employer issued orders in writing to Constituted Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) for each branch or office?

 

 

 

3

Whether Constituted Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) for each branch or office?

 

(Applicable to each branch or office with 10 or more Employees / Workers)

 

 

 

4

Whether sexual harassment is specified as Misconduct in Employment Contract / Offer Letter and Employee manual?

 

 

 

5

Have you displayed at prominent places the consequences of sexual harassments in English and regional language?

 

 

 

6

Have you displayed names & contact details of ICC in English and regional language?

 

 

 

Awareness and Orientation Programmes

 

7

Have you conducted awareness Programmes to Employees?

 

 

 

8

Have you maintained Register for Awareness Programmes conducted to Employees?

 

 

 

9

Have you conducted orientation to Committee Members?

 

 

 

10

Have you maintained Register for orientation to Committee Members conducted?

 

 

 

11

Do you have mechanism to assist the employees to file complaint under Indian Penal Code (IPC) or any other Law / Act?

 

 

 

12

Have you followed the recommendations of the ICC?

 

 

 

Annual Report of ICC and Annual Report of Company

 

13

Is Annual Report Prepared by ICC?

 

 

 

14

Whether Annual Report is submitted by ICC to Employer and District Officer?

 

 

 

15

Have you included the complaints received, pending and disposed in the Annual Report of the Company?

 

 

Compliance & Responsibility

 

16

Is there any mechanism to oversee and supervise the ICC activities and Compliance under this Act?

 

 

17

Do you place the Compliance Status, complaints etc in the Board Meeting of the Company?

 

 

19

Is your Company has designated employee / officer who is responsible for compliance and maintenance of Records and Policies?

 

 

19

Have you maintained Notices, Minutes of ICC Meetings and Proceedings of ICC

 

 

 

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