Private companies need to disclose compliance under Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act: Government

Aug 14, 2018 13:17 IST
Private companies need to disclose compliance under Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act

The Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs, vide its July 31, 2018 notification, amended the Companies (Accounts) Rules, 2014 and inserted a clause saying that companies need to include a statement disclosing their compliance under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

With this amendment, the disclosure of constitution of Internal Complaints Committee under the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act in the Directors Report of every company is now mandatory.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs amended the Companies (Accounts) Rules, 2014, issued under Section-134 of the Companies Act, by inserting clause (X) as follows:-

A statement that the Company has complied with provisions relating to the constitution of Internal Complaints Committee under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013”.

The move came after the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development had requested the Corporate Affairs Ministry to mandate the disclosure with an aim to ensure safe workplaces for Women in the private sector.

Formation of Internal Complaint Committee

Under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, all companies are required to constitute an Internal Compliant Committee at a workplace by an order in writing. The Internal Committee must be constituted at all administrative units or offices.

The Internal Committee shall consist of the following members, nominated by the employer:

  • A Presiding Officer who shall be a woman employed at a senior level at workplace from amongst the employees.
  • Minimum 2 Members from amongst employees who are committed to the cause of women or who have experience in social work.
  • One member from amongst NGOs or associations committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment.

The Presiding Officer and every Member of the Internal Committee can hold office for a period not exceeding three years, from the date of their nomination.

Section-134 of the Companies Act, 2013

• The Section-134 of the Companies Act, 2013 provides the disclosure framework which the Directors of every company are required to comply with in the Annual Reports.

• This section also includes the penal provisions for non-disclosure.

• The inclusion of the compliance under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act in the non-financial disclosures will ensure that the issues regarding sexual harassment get into the focus into Board of Directors of the companies.

Efforts undertaken by Ministry for implementation of Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act

• The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development has been making continuous efforts to mainstream the implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013.

• It was ensured that all the ministries and departments under the central government as well as the organisations working directly under them constitute the Internal Complaints Committee as mandated under the Act.

• A number of instructions were issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) on the request of the ministry to provide immediate relief to the women, working in central government, against sexual harassment at workplace.

• The ministry also empanelled a number of entities who can provide training to any organisation on effective implementation of the provisions of the Act.

• The ministry has provided a facility to all working women to file complaints under this Act directly through the SHE-Box.

SHe-Box portal

  • The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development on July 24, 2017 launched an online platform 'SHe-box' (Sexual Harassment Electronic Box) to enable women employees of the central government to file complaints related to sexual harassment at the workplace.
  • SHe-box seeks to ensure “effective implementation” of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
  • Once a complaint is submitted to the ‘SHe-Box’, it will be directly sent to the internal complaints committee (ICC) of the concerned Ministry.
  • Moreover, SHe-box provides anonymity to complainants.
 

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