Men, measure your words at workplace! Or else...

Harmless remarks may land them in trouble; Act still in nascent stage

Men, measure your words  at workplace! Or else...

With Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, in place, men may well mind their words when they interact with women colleagues.

For,  even appreciating one’s colleague with an innocuous “you’re beautiful” or praising her sartorial sense “your dress is nice” may just well land them in one big trouble.

According to Industrial Relations Institute of India president Rajen Mehrotra, men need to be extra cautious and more so, mind their language as the Act ensures zero tolerance towards sexual harassment.

For, the law defines “sexual harassment” as “unwelcome acts like making sexually coloured remarks, physical advances and contacts or demand or request for sexual favours, which cause distress.”

However, sexual harassment should not be confused with friendly behaviour or more intimate exchanges, if mutually accepted.

A recent workshop, conducted by Karnataka Employers’ Association, dealt with workplace issues, their implications and redress mechanism.

Changing scenario

Changing labour markets and social scenario, increasing number of women joining the workforce, an over-ambitious generation and fast-eroding human values have made it imperative to conduct workshops to educate men and women about safer workplaces.
Deputy Labour Commissioner G Manjunath said: “Perhaps, the Act will redefine the way we live and work and compel us to change our lifestyle. There is no place for arrogance. The Act is harsh.”

Mandatory

It is mandatory for all organisations to set up an Internal Complaints Committee
(ICC). 

Karnataka Employers’ Association president B C Prabhakar said non-compliance with the provisions of the Act is punishable with a fine of up to Rs 50,000. Repeated violations may lead to higher penalties and cancellation of licence to conduct business.

 An aggrieved woman, her relative, friend, co-worker or witness can lodge a complaint on her behalf, provided she gives a written consent.

Punishments include apology, warning, censure, withholding increments or promotion, undergoing counselling or doing community service. The aggrieved woman has to be paid a compensation for the trauma she underwent and the amount will be deducted from the respondent’s (accused) salary.

“The Act is still in the nascent stage. Several  hurdles will crop up in implementing some of the provisions. Probably, the judiciary will have to step in again and provide more teeth to the law for its implementation in toto,” Manjunath
added.

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