The Government of India, through the Department of Personnel & Training of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (“DoPT”), published the Office Memorandum F. No. 11013/2/2014-EsttA-III, dated 5th May, 2015 containing the minutes of the meeting of Chairpersons held on 16th April, 2015 to discuss the progress of implementation of the guidelines on prevention of sexual harassment of women at workplace. The following was discussed in the meeting:
- Broad role of the ICC to discuss general issues: The Chairpersons raised queries on whether mandate of the ICC could be increased to address general concerns of the women employees. The Chairman i.e. the Secretary, DoPT (“Chairman”) under whose chairmanship, this meeting was convened, replied that ICCs could play an active role in making the working environment more conducive by looking into some general issues such as grant of child care leave, increasing the representation in training for women, looking at the status of availability of basic facilities such as toilets, creche, women staff room, etc. Therefore, ICCs, which are required to meet on regular basis, should also invite the women workers for general consultations. He also said that Chairpersons should realize that the ICC headed by them are fairly empowered and much can be done by them and ICC could also issue guidelines/instructions to the administration of the Ministry / Department, if they are found wanting in their duties towards the women employees.
- ICC to work for awareness: It was discussed that ICCs should do their best to increase awareness by having regular interactions with women employees, particularly new entrants in service, so that a feeling of confidence could be developed in them, as it is only through regular interaction that one could really ascertain the problems being faced by them. Workshops could play a vital role as it provides a platform where women can get all their issues addressed.
- Emphasis on training to male employees: The Chairpersons also stressed that male employees should also be made aware of the law and be put through gender sensitization programs.
- Observations of the Chairman on current state of affairs: The Chairman stated his observation that available data indicates that intensified efforts have to be taken to ensure that the welfare measures actually reach women employees as women employees are not adequately represented in various training programs.
He also pointed out that while results of most examinations at various academic levels show exceptional achievement of girl students, the percentage of representation of women in work force remains dismally low. He stressed the need for making the working environment more conducive to the women as their percentage of representation, though low at this stage, is likely to rise in the coming years.
In the end, the Chairman stated that the Government is committed to asserting its role as an ideal employer and providing a safer and conducive workplace to the women employees is part of the resolve.
Please click here to view the Office Memorandum dated 5th May, 2015.
– Adv. Shivangi Prasad – Corporate Lawyer, External Member & Trainer, Head – Legal & Compliance, Partner POSH at Work