The Ministry of Women and Child Development has notified December 9, 2013 as the effective date of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“Sexual Harassment Act”). The ministry has also notified the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules, 2013 which provide clarity in respect some of the procedural aspects of the new law.
The Sexual Harassment Act has been enacted with the objective of providing female employees protection against sexual harassment at the workplace and for the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment. As a result of the notification, employers in India now have several obligations including (i) the need to implement a policy prohibiting sexual harassment against female employees at the workplace (which policy should be consistent with the requirements under law), and (ii) constituting an Internal Complaints Committee (“ICC”) to investigate any allegations of sexual harassment at the workplace. In addition, there are various other responsibilities cast upon the employer including organizing workshops and awareness programs, providing necessary facilities to the ICC, assisting the female employee to make a police compliant and including sexual harassment as a ‘misconduct’ in its HR policies.