Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act
Key Provisions of the Act
- The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 addresses the issue of workplace sexual harassment faced by women in private institutions and government organisations.
- The act superseded Vishakha Guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in 1997.
- The Act defines sexual harassment at the work place and creates a mechanism for redressal of complaints. It also provides safeguards against false or malicious charges.
Definition of Workplace
- Under the Act, a workplace is defined as “any place visited by the employee arising out of or during the course of employment, including transportation provided by the employer for undertaking such a journey.”
- As per this definition, a workplace covers both the organised and unorganised sectors.
- It also includes all workplaces whether owned by Indian or foreign company having a place of work in India.
- As per the Act, workplace includes:-
- Government organizations, including Government company, corporations and cooperative societies;-
- Private sector organisations, venture, society, trust, NGO or service providers etc. providing services which are commercial, vocational, educational, sports, professional, entertainment, industrial, health related or financial activities, including production, supply, sale, distribution or service;-
- Hospitals/Nursing Homes;-
- Sports Institutes/Facilities;-
- Places visited by the employee (including while on travel) including transportation provided by employer;
- A dwelling place or house.
ICC & LCC
- Every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee at each office or branch with 10 or more employees.
- Every district will have a Local Complaints Committee (LCC) so as to enable women in the unorganised sector or small establishments to work in an environment free of sexual harassment.
- The LCC will receive complaints:
- From women working in an organisation having less than 10 workers;
- When the complaint is against the employer himself;
- From domestic workers.
- At least 50 percent of the nominated members in any Internal or Local Committee must be women.
- The Complaints Committees have the powers of civil courts for gathering evidence.
- The Complaints Committees are required to provide for conciliation before initiating an inquiry, if requested by the complainant.
- To facilitate lodging of complaints under the Act, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) developed an online complaint portal titled Sexual Harassment Electronic Box (SHe-Box) in 2017 to facilitate the registration of complaints related to sexual harassment of women at work place.
- Once a complaint is registered in the SHe-Box, it directly reaches the concerned authorities having jurisdiction to take action in the matter. The responsibility to take action on such complaints as well as to ensure updating of status in that regard on SHe Box, is with the concerned authorities.
Why in News?
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development issued advisories to States/ UTs and the Central Ministries/ Departments for strict implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act and the SHe-Box portal to create a women friendly work environment.
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