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Are sexual harassment laws enough?

'Precaution is always better and one must know when to draw the line at their workplace with their fellow colleagues’. This was the moot point that was discussed at a seminar on “The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace”, which took place in the city yesterday.

The seminar was jointly organised by the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA), and Legasis Partners and Legasis Services Pvt. Ltd, which reviewed ‘The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013’ “A girl sends a vulgar SMS to a boy and then if he replies to the same, she says she is sexually harassed. A person’s family life may be destroyed if a wrong decision is made,” said Shalini Kamath, an HR professional at a private company.

‘Need clear policies’
Kamath added that policies should be clear to curb sexual harassment and senior most company authorities must be made to sign that if sexual harassment does occur, then strict action will be taken.

Anant Sardeshmukh, director general, MCCIA, said, “Awareness should be created amongst all the employees about this law. The Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) should be active in all organisations so that the decision is taken faster and employees feel safe”.

Meanwhile, Kamath, a seasoned Human Resource management professional, explained how to create a culture in organisations where such cases can be prevented.

More action needed
Suhas Tuljapurkar, a leading lawyer, said this Act lays down certain guidelines, which make it mandatory for every employer to provide for a mechanism to redress grievances relating to sexual harassment at work place.

He explained that each organisation must have an Internal Complaints Committee in place that should not involve the Human resource managers and the directors.

He also pointed out that non-compliance of certain provisions relating to the new legislation might lead to the closure of business as well. Even if the employee is in notice period or has left the organisation, he/she can file a case of sexual harassment against the employer.

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