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SHe-Box, Start-Ups, Statistics and more….!!

It is the beginning of the New calendar year and here we are, looking at all the milestones we have crossed with the ‘Prevention of Sexual Harassment’ practices in 2017!!

Here’s the last of the 4-part series of questions that we received during our webinar ‘De-mystifying the Law on Prevention of Sexual Harassment’ held on the 15th of November, 2017. Now, read along and ensure that you are all prepped-up for 2018!!

Q: What about in case of startups where there are maybe 5 to 7 employees and no separate person/ HR/ Director?

Since this is an organisation with less than 10 employees, the aggrieved employee can approach the Local Committee and register a complaint with them. The Ministry of Child and Women Development (MCWD) has also released a SHE-Box. When complaints are sent in, by employees of various organisations, the Ministry ensures that the complaint is heard and the issue is redressed.

What if the founder itself is a perpetrator?

Irrespective of the perpetrator and the position he holds, the Ministry of Child and Women development takes the case and hears the complainant. As an external party to the organisation, they conduct an independent inquiry to establish the facts of the complaint.

What kind of complaints can be filed and with whom?

Any complaints on Sexual Harassment (Physical, verbal or non-verbal) or a case of ‘Quid Pro Quo’ or ‘Hostile Environment’ can be registered with the Local Committee/internal committee or via the SHe-Box (http://www.shebox.nic.in).

Q: If the perpetrator is a repeat offender what is the best course available to the employee in such Start-ups?

As a good HR practice, the IC must ensure that the conduct is mentioned in the personnel file of the employee. This information can then be shared during the background check. Also a stronger penalty for repeat offenders may act as a deterrent for future offences.

However, there is no explicit law for repeat offenders.

Since these are people practices, each organisation has to decide on how these actions can be viewed and shared, among other corporates, without overstepping the constitutional right of an Indian to work i.e. ‘Right to work’.

Q: We are a startup and don’t have a senior female member. Can the Director’s wife be the presiding officer of ICC (this director is a shareholder in his wife’s org also)?

There are no regulations in terms of who needs to be Presiding Officer in the Internal Committee, except for being the senior most lady in the Organsiation.

However, there are high expectations that the Presiding Officer must be able to fulfil, while heading the committee. Here are the expectations:

  • Ensure there is absolute confidentiality concerning details of the case – Be it names of the complainant, witnesses and the alleged respondent.
  • Ensure that the process of inquiry and evidence gathered are not shared with anyones, but the IC only
  • Ensures to be present and punctual for all meetings
  • Ensures that members are present for the meetings
  • Ensures that the timelines are met for all the steps involved in the redressal of a complaint
  • Ensures that there is regular training and awareness programs conducted for employees
  • Ensures that the registers are maintained up-to-date and available for audits
  • Ensures that she is available to represent the IC, if the case is to heard in a court of law

Q: There could be one associate who must have been terminated because of harassment in one organisation & joins some other organisation and again involved in harassment – Do we have any law for repeated offenders?

As a good practice, the HR must conduct a background check which would involve questions on conduct and behaviour.

While there is no law concerning repeat offenders, corporates can ensure that good HR practices and a more serious penalty depending on the seriousness can be the way, during case investigations.

Q: I have heard lot about SHE Box recently. What is it exactly?

The SHe-Box or Sexual Harassment Electronic Box, is a virtual way for registering complaints of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace. To read more about this, please click here:  www.shebox.nic.in

Q: Any recent judgements on SH case by Apex court after the law become applicable?

While there is a lot of time taken to prove the case in court of law, these are some cases that are being still fought and the judgements are yet to be released:

1. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/evidence-withheld-for-5-years-in-mumbai-sexual-harassment-trial/article4692717.ec

2. https://www.peoplematters.in/article/employee-relations/sexual-harassment-workplace-india-glimpse-12678?utm_source=peoplematters&utm_medium=interstitial&utm_campaign=learnings-of-the-day

3. https://www.vakilno1.com/latest-notifications/delhi-hc-sexual-harassment-workplace.html

Q: What is the penalty from the state authority on non-compliance ??

On Non-Compliance, the state authority imposes a fine of 50,000 INR. When found to not comply with these norms, the state government can cancel the license to conduct business, too.

As a consultant, we would also like you to focus on the cost involved in reputational damage, attrition and employee dissatisfaction. Most clients also demand to know if the organisation that they are going to work, are complaint by the laws of the land. There is always confidence when clients and employees know that the organisation is vested in creating awareness and training on handling issues of Sexual Harassment, in a pro-active manner.

Q: Is there an audit conducted for the compliance??

Yes – The National and State commission of women conducts audits on PoSH Compliance. Also, any labour officer is authorised to ask for these records as the PoSH Act falls under the Indian Labour of Employment Acts.

Q: Vishakha case guideline does not prescribe strict evidence. Is it necessary to establish strict evidence?

Yes – Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prohibition, Prevention and Redressal) Act 2013 supersedes the Vishaka Guidelines

Q: What is the percentage of people who loses their job because they have raised their hand for being sexually harassed?

From our survey conducted in 2016, we know that victims who faced sexual harassment at the workplace did want to “quit’ their jobs. please go through our survey results here: http://www.kelphr.com/blogs/kelphrs-sexual-harassment-industry-report-2016/

For more information/training on documentation and reporting of SH complaints, please reach out to us on info@kelphr.com or visit our website www.kelphr.com/ASH.

Do visit our  events page (http://www.kelphr.com/events.html) to know of our upcoming events and join us to get your queries clarified.

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