As per the Sexual Harassment of Women At Work Place (Prevention, Prohibition And Redressal) Bill, 2006 (under consideration by the Parliament of India) based on the Vishakha vs. State of Rajasthan verdict {1997 (7) SCC.23}, the Supreme Court of India had formulated guidelines to protect women from harassment of any kind at work place. As per the bill, it is mandatory for all organisations, whether government or non-government, to take every possible step for the safety of women working in those organisations so that they feel secure and can fulfill their responsibilities without any feeling of coercion or exploitation. It is also mandatory for every workplace and every employer (in-charge of a work place) to constitute an ‘Internal Complaints Committee’ for the redressal of sexual harassment cases.

 

 

The primary objective of this policy is to protect the employees from Sexual Harassment either by the colleagues or third parties in the workplace. This policy will help in ensuring fast and fair investigation to provide justice and redressal to the complainant as well as appropriate disciplinary action against the perpetrator if harassment is proved.

 

Objectives of policy:

 

  • To comply with the Sexual Harassment of Women in Workplace Bill.

 

  • To institute a system/ mechanism in presenting such actions and dealing with the case of sexual harassment.

 

  • To create a secure and stress free environment for all workers.

 

  • To promote a healthy work environment.

 

  • To hinder the gender discrimination at the workplace and provide both men and women equal opportunities.

 

Definition of Sexual Harassment:

 

  • Unwanted physical touch or conduct

 

  • Demand or expression for sexual favor

 

  • Sexually oriented comments and use of abusive language in the workplace or any other foul language which shows gender insensitivity.

 

  • Obscene behaviors in front of colleagues, seeing or compelling them to see photographs which make them feel harassed.

 

  • Any other conduct physical, verbal or otherwise which may be considered as sexual harassment.

 

Scope and coverage:

 

  • All employees of Mobile Creches, regardless of their contract, duration of employment or position in the organization.

 

  • Volunteers, consultants, trainees and interns, regardless of the duration of their association with the organization.

 

  • Partner organizations which come in contact with Mobile Creches.

 

Action under this policy will be initiated in cases where any of the above mentioned individuals is subjected to sexual harassment by a Mobile Creches employee, inside or outside the office.

 

In cases where Mobile Creches employee is subjected to sexual harassment by a third party who is not a Mobile Creches employee, but is associated with the organisation, this policy mandates immediate action to protect the complainant and to initiate action against the harasser, either through the appropriate policy of the concerned employer or in cases where this is not possible, through the criminal justice system.

 

Complaints Committee:

 

A Complaints Committee expressly set up for this purpose, shall have the statutory status and be empowered to carry out the mandate of the policy. Complaints of sexual harassment will be received, reviewed and investigated by a complaints committee with 4 members (of which at least 3 are women) constituted as follows:

 

  • Representative of HR Department (coordinator of the committee)

 

  • Staff member

 

  • Member of Governing Council

 

  • External Expert (a person with expertise on the issue of gender and sexual harassment, to be nominated by the Governing Council)

 

The Complaints Committee will have a term of 3 years and will be constituted by a resolution of the Governing Council (GC). The committee will be empowered to receive complaints, attempt informal resolution through mediation, conduct formal enquiries and recommend appropriate action for redressal and punishment.

 

In cases where a complaint is received against a member of the Complaints Committee, the concerned individual will be required to step down, and will be replaced by another person of the same category.

 

In cases where a complaint is received against the Coordinator, the Complaints Committee will be headed by the Executive Director.

 

Authorities and Duties of Complaints Committee:

 

  • To build a secure working environment all employees, regardless of their gender

 

  • To promote gender equity and justice within the organization.

 

  • To disseminate the policy and the procedures to all colleagues working in the organisation.

 

  • To take steps for training and sensitisation of the staff members.

 

  • To ensure that procedures for registering complaints are simple, accessible and effective.

 

  • To take immediate cognizance of the complaints, conduct timely enquiries, provide redressal to the victim and take action against the harasser.

 

  • To recommend appropriate follow-up action and monitor compliance.

 

  • To seek legal, medical or police assistance, where required, with the consent of the victim.

 

  • To offer/ ensure required psychological, emotional and physical support to the victim.

Procedure:

 

Procedures are in place for the following- (details in policy document)

 

  • Filing of complaints

 

  • Informal process (mediation)

 

  • Formal process (investigation)

 

  • Report and recommendations

 

  • Disciplinary action

 

Confidentiality and protection:

 

The Complaints Committee will address complaints and carry out the investigation process in a manner that respects the confidentiality and privacy of complainants, alleged offenders and others who provide information or evidence in cases of sexual harassment.

 

In exceptional situations, the Complaints Committee may decide to set aside the commitment to confidentiality, such as in cases where legal proceedings are initiated and the organization is required to disclose information, or in cases where disclosure is deemed necessary to protect the interests of others.

 

 

Under the terms of this policy, the organisation is committed to provide support and protection to complainants. Measures will also be taken to prevent further harassment or discriminatory treatment of complaints by supervisors or colleagues on account of having filed a complaint.

 

Duties and responsibilities for implementation:

 

These have been listed in detail in the policy document.

 

Amendments to the policy:

 

Based on the experiences of working on the policy the complaint committee will have the power to make recommendations to the GC about changes in the policy.

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