Amid the general apathy towards implementing the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Act, 2013 [“the Act”] by companies, Vidarbha Industries Association HRD Forum initiative to create awareness about the Act “Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace” amongst its members and ensure compliance with the law are praiseworthy, said Mr Vishal Kedia, Founder and Director of compliance advisory company, Complykaro Services Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai.
Mr. Kedia said one recent legislation enacted by the Government of India which has gone unnoticed is “The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013” and it has to be mandatorily complied with by every organisation whether you have women employees or not. Every organisation i.e. Public Limited Company, Private Limited Company, Limited Liability Partnership, Partnership Firms, Association, Society, Trust, Proprietorship, NGO etc irrespective of size and number of employees has to comply with the said Act.
Mr. Kedia pointed out in his address that it is mandatory for organisations employing 10 or more people to set up Internal Compliance Committee (ICC) and create awareness about the provisions of the law irrespective whether they have any women employees or not.
Sexual harassment is now a civil and criminal offence and organisations must comply with the Act or face severe punishments. For instance a company at Chennai – where a case of sexual harassment was reported – was fined Rs 1.68 crores about 3 years back for not complying with the law or risk criminal prosecution of management as in the case of CEO of an International airlines, he stressed.
The entire emphasis of the law is on prevention and its puts specific emphasis on organization’s obligation to organise awareness programmes for sensitization of employees with the provisions of the Act as well as skill building programmes for ICC members. Such details have to be disclosed in the annual report to be filed by the ICC with the District officer.
He said, industries may be aware that non compliance with The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 can lead to huge penalty, closure of business and risk of incarceration for the management of such organisation. Further compliance with the said Act needs to be reported in the Annual Report to be filed by the organisations for each financial year. By complying with the said law, management of organizations can shield themselves from any legal consequences and ensure that prompt remedial action is taken against the perpetrator i.e. accused in case of genuine complaints and the complainant in case of false and malicious complaints.
Earlier, Mr Atul Pande, President – VIA welcomed the guest speaker with floral bouquet. Mr. Omprakash Bagdia, Vice President of VIA made an introductory remarks and introduced the speaker. He said VIA HRD Forum has been working on identifying topics that are the need of the hour and lesser know to our members. One such space is about understanding and complying with a legislation enacted by the Government of India which has gone unnoticed – “The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013”. Today’s program will enlighten us on the same. He further added that women safety has been a topic ignored for a long time and this law is very pertinent in the present scenario as more women are joining the workforce and women are also more comfortable with an internal redressal mechanism within the organisation rather than approaching the police. He urged all organisations in Vidarbha region to understand the beneficial features of the law for all stakeholders and implement it in letter & spirit for a better & safe India. The program was largely attended by representatives from industries. Prominent present Dr Suhas Buddhe, Hon Secretary – VIA. Prof Ashit Sinha, former Vice President – VIA proposed a formal vote of thanks.