Prevention of Sexual Harassment Policy

POLICY ON PREVENTION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT THE WORKPLACE

A. COMMITMENT

  • DAKSH is committed to providing a work environment that ensures every employee is treated with dignity and respect and afforded equal and equitable treatment, without any discrimination.
  • DAKSH is also committed to promoting a work environment that is conducive to the professional growth of its employees and encourages equality of opportunity.
  • DAKSH will not tolerate any form of sexual harassment and is committed to taking all necessary steps to ensure that its employees are not subjected to any form of harassment. Accordingly, any instance of harassment will be taken very seriously and if any employee is found to have committed it, they will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action according to the Policy.
 

  B. POLICY

  • This is DAKSH’s policy on Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace (Policy). Though drafted to be compliant with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (Act) and the Rules made thereunder (Rules), DAKSH intends the Policy to apply to instances of Sexual Harassment (as defined below) irrespective of the gender of the Complainant (as defined below).
  • DAKSH’s Governing Council has unanimously adopted the Policy.
  • Anything not expressly discussed here shall, particularly where a woman is the Complainant, be dealt with as prescribed in the Act and/or Rules.
 

 C. SCOPE

  • The Policy applies to all Employees in all locations where DAKSH has offices or conducts business including a dwelling place/house that the Employees fulfills responsibilities of DAKSH.
  • The Policy applies to every category of employment with DAKSH, including permanent, probationary, casual, temporary staff, management, trainees, and employees on contract.
  • The Policy also applies to third parties who engage with DAKSH, its representatives or subsidiaries in the course of a business relationship or other engagements, including customers, consultants, visitors, vendors and contractors.

That is, all such persons shall not only be afforded protection under the Policy, and have the right to make a Complaint, but shall also be responsible to conform to and comply with the duties and obligations of the Policy, and can be held liable for any violation thereof. Notwithstanding the foregoing, it is clarified that DAKSH shall not be liable or responsible to conduct inquiries into, or otherwise redress, complaints of Sexual Harassment where neither the Complainant/s nor the Respondent/s is an Employee of DAKSH and the IC shall have the discretion to refuse to accept a complaint in such a case. However, in such cases, DAKSH shall co-operate to the best of its ability with the internal committees of organisations who employ the Complainant/s and/or Respondent/s, or local committees, as the case may be, during their inquiry.

 

D. DEFINITIONS

  • Complaint means a complaint of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace, submitted to the IC in writing by the Complainant.
  • Complainant means any person, including an Employee, of any age or sex, who alleges to have been subjected to any act of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace by the Respondent.
  • Employee means a person employed by DAKSH or at the Workplace for any work, on regular, temporary, ad hoc or daily wage basis, either directly or through an agent, including a contractor, with or without the knowledge of the principal employer, whether for remuneration or not, or working on a voluntary basis or otherwise, whether the terms of employment are express or implied and includes a co-worker, a contract worker, probationer, trainee, apprentice, called by any other name.
  • IC means the Internal Committee constituted by DAKSH.
  • Respondent means any person, including an Employee, against whom a Complaint has been made.
  • Sexual Harassment—

    a) Includes unwelcome sexual behaviour (whether direct or implied) at the Workplace, such as physical contact and advances; or demand or request for sexual favours; or making sexually coloured remarks; or showing pornography; or any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
    b) The following circumstances, among other circumstances, if they occur or are present in relation to or connected with any act or behaviour of sexual harassment (as set out in paragraph D(f)(i) above), may amount to Sexual Harassment:
    i) implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in the Complainant’s employment; or
    ii) implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in the Complainant’s employment; or
    iii) implied or explicit threat about the Complainant’s present or future employment status; or
    iv) interference with the Complainant’s work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for the Complainant; or
    v) humiliating treatment likely to affect the Complainant’s health or safety.

  • Workplace includes—
    i) DAKSH’s current place of business and all offices or other premises where DAKSH’s business is conducted.
    ii) Any place visited by an Employee arising out of or during the course of employment, including transportation provided by DAKSH for undertaking such journey, and social events sponsored by DAKSH.
 

 E. INTERNAL COMMITTEE (IC)

  • The IC shall comprise a minimum of 4 (four) members, with at least one-half being women.
  • It shall consist of a woman employed at a senior level of DAKSH as the Presiding Officer, at least 2 (two) members from amongst the Employees, and 1 (one) member from a non-governmental organisation or association committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with issues relating to sexual harassment, as the External Member.
  • Each member to the IC shall be appointed for a term not exceeding 3 (three) years.
  • The list of IC members is set out in Appendix A, attached to this Policy, and is subject to amendments from time to time.
 

F. DUTIES OF DAKSH

DAKSH shall:

  • provide a safe working environment at the Workplace;
  • display, on the notice boards at its offices, the order constituting the IC (with names of the IC members), as well as the penal consequences of sexual harassment;
  • organise workshops and awareness programmes at regular intervals for sensitising the Employees with the provision of the Act, in consultation with the IC
  • organise orientation programmes for IC members;
  • provide necessary facilities to the IC for dealing with the Complaint and conducting an inquiry;
  • assist in securing the attendance of the Respondent and witnesses before the IC;
  • make available such information to the IC as it may require with regard to the Complaint;
  • initiate action against the Respondent, based on the IC’s report and recommendations;
  • assist the Complainant if the Complainant chooses to file a complaint in relation to the alleged offence under the Indian Penal Code, 1860;
  • cause to initiate action against the Respondent under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, or if the Complainant desires, where the perpetrator is not an employee, in the Respondent’s workplace or the workplace where the incident of Sexual Harassment took place;
  • ensure that there is no retaliation against the Complainant or witnesses, whether by DAKSH or by any other Employee of DAKSH, in relation to the Complaint;
  • treat Sexual Harassment as misconduct; and
  • monitor the timely submission of reports by the IC.
 

G. RESPONSIBILITIES OF EMPLOYEES

  • All Employees shall be under an obligation to strictly conform to the provisions of the Policy.
  • All Employees shall have a personal responsibility to ensure that their behaviour is not contrary to the Policy.
  • DAKSH trusts that no vindictive or malicious complaint of Sexual Harassment shall be made and Employees are hereby made aware that a Complainant who is proved, upon inquiry by the IC in accordance with the procedure prescribed in Section H below, to have filed the Complaint maliciously may be subject to action in accordance with the provisions of the service rules applicable to the Complainant or if no such service rules exist, legal action by DAKSH.
 

H. REDRESSAL MECHANISM

  • The Complainant may submit a Complaint to the IC, within three months from the date of the incident and in case of a series of incidents, within three months from the date of the last incident. Provided where such Complaint cannot be made in writing, the IC shall render all reasonable assistance to the Complainant for making the Complaint in writing.
  • If the IC is satisfied that there were circumstances which prevented the Complainant from filing a Complaint within the period mentioned in paragraph (i) above, then the IC may extend the time limit. However, the extension shall not exceed three months. The reasons for the extension of the time limit shall be recorded in writing.
  • Where the Complainant is unable to make a Complaint on account of:
    1. Complainant’s physical incapacity, a Complaint may be filed by Complainant’s relative or friend; co-worker; an officer of the National Commission for Women or State Women’s Commission; or any person who has knowledge of the incident, with the written consent of the Complainant.
    2. Complainant’s mental incapacity, a Complaint may be filed by the Complainant’s: relative or friend; a special educator; a qualified psychiatrist; the guardian or authority under whose care he/she is receiving treatment or care; or any person who has knowledge of the incident jointly with the Complainant’s relative or friend or a special educator or qualified psychiatrist or psychologist or guardian or authority under whose care the Complainant is receiving treatment or care.
    3. Any other reason, a Complaint may be filed by any person who has knowledge of the incident, with the Complainant’s written consent.
    4. Where the Complainant is dead, a Complaint may be filed by any person who has knowledge of the incident, with the written consent of the Complainant’s legal heir.
  • At the time of filing the Complaint, the Complainant shall submit 6 (six) copies of the Complaint along with the supporting documents and the names and addresses of the witnesses to the IC.
  • On receipt of the Complaint, the IC shall send one of the copies received from the Complainant to the Respondent within 7 (seven) working days.
  • The Respondent shall file their reply to the Complaint along with their list of documents and names and addresses of witnesses, within 10 (ten) working days from the date of receipt of documents by the Respondent.
  • Once a Complaint is received, the IC may, at the request of the Complainant, take steps to settle the matter between the Complainant and the Respondent through conciliation. Provided that monetary settlement shall not be a basis of conciliation.
  • Once the settlement is arrived at, the IC shall record the settlement arrived at and forward the same to DAKSH to take action as specified in the recommendation.
  • The IC shall provide the copies of the settlement to the Complainant and the Respondent.
  • Where a settlement is arrived at, no further inquiry shall be conducted by the IC and the conciliation process shall be deemed to be completed. However, if the Complainant informs the IC that any term or condition of the settlement arrived at has not been complied with by the Respondent, the IC shall proceed to make an inquiry into the Complaint or forward the Complaint to the police.
  • In case a settlement is not arrived at and there is a failure of conciliation, the IC shall proceed to inquire into the Complaint, as set out in Section I below.
 

I. INQUIRY PROCEDURE, REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS

  • A minimum of 3 (three) members of the IC, including the Presiding Officer and the External Member, shall be present, in person or through telephone or video-conferencing, at the time of conducting the inquiry.
  • During the pendency of inquiry, the IC may recommend to DAKSH to provide the following relief to the Complainant, if requested by the Complainant in writing: (i) transfer (of Complainant or Respondent), (ii) leave up to 3 (three) months, in addition to any leave to which the Complainant is otherwise entitled, and/or (iii) a change in the reporting structure, to ensure that the Respondent is restrained from supervising or reporting on the Complainant’s work performance. DAKSH shall implement such recommendation/s, and send a report of implementation to the IC.
  • The IC shall conduct the inquiry into the Complaint in accordance with the principles of natural justice. The IC shall act fairly at all times, and parties shall be given an opportunity of being heard.
  • During the inquiry, in case the Respondent or the Complainant fails to present themselves for 3 (three) consecutive hearings convened by the Presiding Officer, the IC shall have the right to terminate the inquiry proceedings or make an ex parte decision regarding the Complaint. The IC, however, shall not terminate or pass an ex parte order unless an advance written notice of 15 (fifteen) days is given to the party/ies concerned.
  • The parties shall not be allowed to bring any legal practitioner to represent them in their case in any stage of the inquiry proceedings before the IC.
  • The inquiry shall be completed within 90 (ninety) days of the Complaint being received by the IC.
  • The IC shall provide a report of its findings to DAKSH within 10 (ten) days from the date of completion of the inquiry and the report shall be made available to the concerned parties, including the Complainant and the Respondent, to enable them to make representation against the findings.
  • Where the IC concludes that the allegation against the Respondent is proved, it shall recommend DAKSH to grant such relief to the Complainant as detailed in Section J below. Where the IC concludes that the allegation against the Respondent is not proved, it shall recommend to DAKSH that no action shall be taken in the matter against the Respondent.
  • DAKSH shall act upon the recommendation within 60 (sixty) days of the receipt of the recommendation.
 

J. DISCIPLINARY ACTION AND COMPENSATION

  1. Where the IC comes to a conclusion that the allegation against the Respondent has been proved, it shall recommend to DAKSH to do any one or more of the following:
  2. Take any action against the Respondent, including:
 
  •  direct the Respondent to issue a written apology to the Complainant
  • issue a warning
  • issue a reprimand or censure
  • withhold promotion
  • withhold pay rise or increments
  • terminate the Respondent from service
  • direct the Respondent to undergo a counselling session;
  • direct the Respondent to perform community service
  • Deduct from the salary or wages of the Respondent such sum as it may consider appropriate to be paid to the Complainant or his/her legal heirs, as it may determine, having regard to:
    i) the mental trauma, pain, suffering and emotional distress caused to the Complainant;
    ii) the loss in career opportunity due to the incident of Sexual Harassment;
    iii) medical expenses incurred by the Complainant towards physical and/or psychiatric treatment;
    iv) the income and financial stability of the Respondent; and
    v) feasibility of such payment in lump sum or in instalments.

Provided that if DAKSH is unable to make such deduction from the salary of the Respondent due to the Respondent’s absence from duty or cessation of employment with DAKSH, DAKSH may direct the Respondent to pay such sum to the Complainant. Further, if the Respondent fails to pay such sum to the Complainant, the IC may forward the order for recovery of the sum as an arrear of land revenue to the concerned District Officer.

  • Take any other action other than the above mentioned, as DAKSH deems fit.
  • Where the IC concludes that:
    i) the Complainant or any other person making the Complaint has made a Complaint knowing it to be false; or
    ii) the allegation against the Respondent is malicious;
    iii) the Complainant or any other person making the Complaint has produced any forged or misleading document; or
    iv) any witness has given false evidence or produced or a forged or misleading document,
    v) the IC may recommend that DAKSH take appropriate action against the Complainant or the person who has made the Complaint or witness, including a written apology, warning, reprimand or censure, withholding of promotion, withholding of pay rise or increments, termination of employment of the witness, undergoing a counselling session or carrying out community service.
  • However, a mere inability to substantiate the Complaint or provide adequate proof need not attract action against the Complainant, and the malicious intent on part of the Complainant shall be established after conducting an inquiry into the Complaint, and before recommending any action.
 

K. CONFIDENTIALITY

  • The contents of the Complaint, the identity and addresses of the Complainant, Respondent and/or witnesses, any information relating to conciliation and inquiry proceedings, recommendations of the IC and the action taken by DAKSH shall be confidential. They shall not be published, communicated, or made known to the public, press or media in any manner.
  • Any person who violates the above shall be penalised by DAKSH by levying such amount as may be prescribed in the Act and/or Rules, in addition to taking action against the person in accordance with DAKSH’s policy on non-disclosure of confidential information.
 

L. APPEAL

  • Any person aggrieved by any of IC’s recommendations may appeal to the court prescribed by the Act, Rules, or other applicable laws.
  • The appeal shall be made within 90 (ninety) days from the date of the recommendation.
 

M. AMENDMENTS

The Policy may be revised by DAKSH in its sole discretion. Modified versions of the Policy shall become binding on the Employees upon notification. Where terms used in this Policy are in conflict with the Act, Rules or other applicable laws, the terms shall be read in accordance with the Act, Rules or other applicable laws.

Appendix A: Members of the IC

  1. [Full name] (Presiding Officer)
  2. [Full name] (Member)
  3. [Full name] (Member)
  4. [Full name] (External Member)

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