The Union Cabinet on Thursday, Nov 4 approved the introduction of the Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010, which is aimed at providing protection to women against sexual harassment at the workplace, in the Parliament.
With the Cabinet clearance, women can now sue their colleagues for sexual abuse and harassment, a TV news channel report said.
The bill will ensure protection of women working in public as well as private sectors, irrespective of whether it is organised or unorganized.
According to CNN-IBN, the bill allows women to complain of harassment ranging from physical contact, demand or requests for sexual favours, sexually coloured remarks or showing pornography.
The bill also has a penalty provision for employers who do not comply.
Some of the salient features of the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010 are listed below:
– The Bill the promise or threat to a woman’s employment prospects or creation of hostile work environment as ‘sexual harassment’ at workplace and expressly seeks to prohibit such acts.
– 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; besides students, research scholars in colleges/university and patients in hospitals.
– The Bill provides for an effective complaints and redressal mechanism. Under the proposed Bill, every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee.
– Employers who fail to comply with the provisions of the proposed Bill will be punishable with a fine of up to Rs 50,000.
– Considering the possibility that during the pendency of the enquiry the woman may be subject to threat and aggression, the bill gives the woman the option to seek interim relief in the form of transfer either of her own or the respondent or seek leave from work.
– The Complaint Committees are required to complete the enquiry within 90 days and a period of 60 days has been given to the employer/District Officer for implementation of the recommendations of the Committee.
– The Bill also provides for safeguards in case of false or malicious complaint of sexual harassment.
– The implementation of the Bill will be the responsibility of the Central Government in case of its own undertakings/establishments and of the State Governments in respect of every workplace established, owned, controlled or wholly or substantially financed by it as well as of private sector establishments falling within their territory.