New Delhi: FICCI committee on Homeland Security has identified women safety as one of the priority areas. With the increase in number of women workforce joining the corporates, the need to ensure safe and secure environment at workplace becomes imperative for the organizations. While the Sexual Harassment Act 2013 is in place to prevent sexual harassment of women at workplace, many organizations have no or little awareness about the regulations.
FICCI along with the EY has come out with a report on 'Fostering Safe Workplaces'. It is a study to identify the changing dynamics of the workforce with regard to prevention of sexual harassment of women. This report is an endeavor to decipher how far we have reached with respect to combating the issue.
The report was made public at the FICCI-organised workshop on Women Safety at Workplace on Friday. This workshop aimed to create the awareness amongst the employers, HR officials. Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) members who are responsible for the implementation of the Act; and also to educate them on the practical aspects of this problem
According to the National Commission for Women (NCW), there is a noticeable rise in sexual harassment at the workplace. From 249 complaints (reported) of sexual harassment at work place in the year 2013, the same doubled in the year 2014 to 526 complaints. Nearly 36% of Indian companies and 25% among MNCs are not compliant with the Sexual Harassment Act 2013, according to the report. The survey shows that 31% of the respondents were not compliant with the Act (after its enactment), which mandates ICCs being constituted to address complaints. Nearly 35% companies surveyed were unaware of the penal consequences for non-compliance when constituting ICCs. Surprisingly, the issue was more pronounced among MNCs with almost 38% stating their ignorance. It is the employers' responsibility to provide a safe working environment to women employees. About 44% of the respondents' organisations did not display the penal consequences of sexual harassment in their premises. SME sector fared low with 71% did not display such warnings clearly at their place.
Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 aims to provide protection against sexual harassment of women at the workplace and the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment and for connected matters. This is mandated to constitute the ICC to display the penal consequences of sexual harassment, organize orientation programs for the members of the ICC and arranging awareness programs for employees.