In the last 48 hours, The Viral Fever (TVF) sexual harassment controversy has managed to create a huge public brouhaha of the importance of the Act*.

Its one of the most important legislations for women and I cannot stress on its importance enough at any workplace. But it takes a controversial example to curtail the rest. In the wake of all the confusion, lets take a quick insight at how exactly can start-ups, small businesses implement the Act* at their workplaces.

*Which Act?

The Sexual Harassment Of Women At Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition And Redressal) Act, 2013 read with The Sexual Harassment Of Women At Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition And Redressal) Rules, 2013.

Who does it apply to?

Any employer of any public, private establishment. Any and all private and public institutions, organization, establishment so on and so forth. In essence, if you have any contractual obligation towards your employees, you come under the ambit of the Act.

What are the things an employer needs to do in order to comply with the Act?

  1. Formulate and widely disseminate an internal policy
  2. Constitute an Internal Complaints Committee** and make the employees aware of the same in writing
  3. Create general awareness through workshops and seminars at the workplace.

**Who should form a part of the Internal Complaints Committee?

  • A Presiding Officer, who shall be a woman at a senior level at the workplace from among the employees
  • At least two members amongst employees who have experience in social work or legal knowledge
  • One member from NGO or a person who is familiar with the sexual harassment issues

These members shall be nominated by the employer. One-half of total members should be women.

Is it compulsory to have an Internal Complaints Committee?

Yes, if you have more than 10 employees.

Where will the victim go if there is no Internal Complaints Committee?

The victim can complain to the Local Complaints Committee formed by the Government pursuant to the Act. Any complaint against the employer himself can be take to the Local Complaints Committee.

What is the penalty for non-compliance?

Contravention and non-compliance on part of the employer shall be punishable with fine, which may extend to fifty thousand rupees.

What is the relief granted under the Act?

Any woman can make a complaint to the Internal Complaints Committee or the Local Complaints Committee in the absence of it within 3 months of the incident. This right is also extended to her legal heirs or any person as prescribed.

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