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					                      V. V. Giri National Labour Institute
(An Autonomous Body of Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India)
                                  Workshop on
    “THE PROHIBITION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF WOMEN AT WORKPLACE”
                                on the occasion of
                          International Women’s Day
                                 8th March, 2011


                                          Concept Note

Women workers constitute a large segment of the workforce in both the formal and informal
sector in India. Employment of women is however more pronounced in the informal sector
where they are more susceptible to various forms of harassment. This is also not absent in either
the private and public ‘white-collar’ jobs. Women’s vulnerability at the workplace get
accentuated when there are no mechanisms for protecting and safeguarding their conditions at
workplace. Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010 emerged
after concerted efforts made by various stakeholders since its draft stage in 2007. The Bill has
incorporated the definition of sexual harassment as stated in the Vishaka judgement passed by
the Supreme Court in 1997. This Bill also recognises the promise or threat to woman’s
employment prospects or creation of hostile work environment as “sexual harassment” at
workplace and seeks to prohibit such acts. It aims at providing women their right to gender
equality especially in their working conditions. It covers protection not only to women who are
employed but also to any woman who enters the workplace as a customer, client, apprentice,
daily wageworker, or in ad hoc capacity. Students, research scholars in colleges/universities and
patients in hospitals have also been included. However, domestic workers that constitute a
sizable proportion of women’s employment have been left in the purview of this Bill meant for
safeguarding women at workplace.

The Bill proposes that irrespective of the size of the establishment, women must have access to a
redressal mechanism. This includes formation of a) Local Complaints Committee (LCC) to be
constituted by the designated District Officer at the district or sub-district level and b) Internal
Complaints Committee (ICC) by each employer having more than ten workers. Such Committees
will recommend action to the employer or District Officer respectively. The Bill states that The
District Officer will be made liable to see that all organised sector have such committees. An
absence of its implementation would result in a penalty with a fine of Rs 50,000/- for the
establishment or deregistration in case of first offence. And in the case of a second offence the
fine will be doubled including deregistration.




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Implementation of the Bill is 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. Both the state and central governments have
been entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing and ensuring overall implementation of the
law.

Such law demands non-discriminatory practices to be followed in workplaces as well as increased
sensitivity towards the rights of women workforce. Indian regulatory authorities and the Indian
judiciary have consistently adopted a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment and
discrimination in compliance with the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s directions in Vishaka v State of
Rajasthan. These directions impose several obligations upon employers to prevent or deter the
commission of acts of sexual harassment in the workplace including instituting an anti- sexual
harassment policy, creating awareness and providing training amongst employees and setting up
complaints committees for the resolution, settlement or prosecution of acts of sexual harassment in
the workplace.

Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010 would help in creating an
enabling environment for women to work without any fear of any form of harassment that inturn
would deter their withdrawal of employment from the labour market. This Bill however needs a
careful discussion on its strengths and weaknesses as it has also left out the domestic workers from its
purview. Recognising this need to analyse this, V. V. Giri National Labour Institute, NOIDA, is
organising a Workshop on “Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill,
2010” on the occasion of International Women’s Day on March 8, 2011 at V.V. Giri National Labour
Institute.

The Workshop will engage with representatives from the government, civil society, trade unions, and
academics who will discuss the issue and challenges, its gaps and strength with a pragmatic approach.
It aims to focus on the issue of gender discrimination at work keeping the recent amendments to the
Bill in mind. It will also provide inputs to develop gender sensitisation amongst employees adopt
gender equitable policies and achieve compliance under the law governing sexual harassment and
discrimination in India. The workshop will also provide awareness of various legal options in handling
various issues faced by employers, management, unions and so on. The programme format combines
theoretical inputs with practical situations and is participative in nature.

About the Organiser:

V.V. Giri National Labour Institute (NLI) is an autonomous body of the Ministry of Labour and
Employment, Government of India and is a premier institute of labour research, training and
education. Since its inception, NLI has endeavoured through research, training and publication to
reach all those who are concerned with various aspects of labour both in the organised and
unorganised sector.




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