Monday, November 8, 2010

Cabinet clears Sexual Harassment at Workplaces Bill

The Cabinet has cleared the introduction of the much awaited Bill in Parliament aimed at protecting women against Sexual Harassment at Workplaces. The Bill seeks to ensure a safe environment for women at work places, both in public and private in organised as well as unorganized sectors. Employers who fail to comply with the provisions of the proposed Bill will be punishable with a fine which may extend to 50,000 rupees.

The Bill provides protection not only to women who are employed but also to any woman who enters the workplace as a client, customer, apprentice, and daily wageworker or in ad-hoc capacity. Students, research scholars in colleges and university and patients in hospitals have also been covered. It also provides for an effective complaints and redressal mechanism. Under the proposed Bill, every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee which will enquire into the complaints of sexual harassment. They will also recommend action to the employer or District Officer.The Complaint Committees will have complete the enquiry within 90 days while 60 days will be given to the employer or District Officer for implementation of the recommendations of the Committee. Since there is a possibility that during the pendency of the enquiry the woman may be subject to threat and aggression, the victim will be given the option to seek interim relief. The Bill provides for safeguards in case of false or malicious complaint of sexual harassment.

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