India: Businesses Reminded to Report Compliance With Sexual Harassment Law

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By Madhur Singh

March 30—Businesses in the city of Gurgaon employing 10 or more people must file their annual reports on compliance with the sexual harassment law within 30 days or face penalties, the local complaints committee has warned.

Gurgaon is a part of the National Capital Region of Delhi and is a thriving manufacturing and information technology hub with a population of about 900,000. Women form a sizeable portion of the employees in the city's outsourcing offices, malls and other service businesses.

Compliance and Reporting

In a notice issued March 16, the local complaints committee formed under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013 asked employers to file reports of their compliance with the law and to post information on their websites.

The act obligates all organizations employing 10 or more employees to set up internal complaint committees to address complaints of sexual harassment, to conduct education and sensitization programs and to develop policies against sexual harassment. Section 21 of the act stipulates that the committee must submit an annual report to the designated district officer. Law firm Archer & Angel said in a February 2016 newsletter that over 4,000 organizations in Gurgaon, including offices and education institutes, have received notices of their need to comply.

Harassment Continues to Be a National Problem

Gurgaon is not unique. Many businesses nationwide have yet to comply with all the provisions of the Sexual Harassment Act. In a 2015 national survey, consultancy EY and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry found that 31 percent of respondents had not complied with the requirement to set up internal complaint committees and that more Indian companies (36 percent) were noncompliant than multinational companies (25 percent).

“Despite increased public awareness, sexual harassment continues to plague Indian workplaces,” the survey said, counting among the reasons a lack of understanding of the law as well as social and legal ambiguity about what constitutes sexual harassment.

Noncompliance can be punished with a monetary penalty of 50,000 rupees ($750), and repeat offenders' licenses/permits can be withdrawn.

To contact the reporter on this story: Madhur Singh in Chandigarh at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

For More Information

Text of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013 is available here, the EY/FICCI survey here.

For more information on Indian HR law and regulation, see the India primer.

The Gurgaon sexual harassment compliance notice is available

here.