Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace
(Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Policy
Good Samaritan School
We, at Good Samaritan School stand strongly committed to inculcate, create and uphold a work-environment in which our women staff is treated with dignity, civility and respect. We don’t and won’t tolerate sexual harassment against women in our workplace in any shape or form. We prohibit sexual harassment of any kind and are bound by our policy to take appropriate and immediate action in response to complaints or knowledge of sexual harassment against our women staff.
Sexual harassment against women at workplace has different levels of culpability. A person sexually harasses a woman when he insinuates, proposes or demands sexual favours of any kind from her against employment or promotion, invades her personal space, stalks or coerces her to get engaged in sexual acts, sends or displays sexually explicit objects or messages, comments on her looks, dress, sexually or gender in a derogatory or objectifying manner or a manner that makes her uncomfortable, makes lewd comments, jokes or gestures that humiliate or offend her or flirts with her constantly without her approving involvement.
SHWW Act: A guiding document
Sexual harassment against women at a workplace amounts to violation of women’s right to equality, life and liberty. It leads to a hostile and unfriendly work-ambience, resulting in abysmal women-participation at work. Taking cognizance of all of this, our legislature formulated the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (hereinafter referred to as SHWW Act). The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 was enacted to ensure safe working spaces for women and to build enabling work environments that respect women’s right to equality of status and opportunity. The SHWW Act came into force from 9th December, 2013. This statute superseded the Vishaka Guidelines for Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH), introduced by the Supreme Court (SC) of India.
Vishaka Guidelines: A landmark judgement by Supreme Court
It was during the case of Vishaka v State of Rajasthan that the need for such legislation was recognized first time by the Supreme Court. In absence of any law at that time providing measures to check the menace of sexual harassment of working women, the Supreme Court, in exercise of power available under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, crafted guidelines to be followed at all workplaces or institutions, until a legislation is enacted for the purpose. The Supreme Court assimilated elementary principles of human rights, enriched in Constitution of India under Article 14. 15, 19(1)(g) and 21, and provisions of Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which had been ratified in 1993 by the Government of India. Vishaka guidelines remained as the law under Article 141 of the constitution till 2013, when SHWW Act was enacted to facilitate protection to women against sexual harassment at workplaces and for the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment and for matters related to that.
Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (SHWW) policy for Institution/ School:
Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) policy has been formulated in alignment with the provisions of ‘The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. The purpose of SHWW is deep-rooted in thwarting sexual harassment against women in workplaces and also, in protecting them. Every institution/school has to provide a safe, secure and enabling working environment, free from sexual harassment to every woman.
The policy is applicable to all members of the school, including employers and those who are employed on regular, temporary, on a daily wage basis, etc. The policy also extends to those who are not employees of the school such as parents, service providers, visitors, interns, contract workers, suppliers, etc. the policy is restricted to the work-locations of a school and any external location visited by the employees during the course of employment whether inside or outside of India. All the employees should have the personal responsibility to ensure that their conduct isn’t and doesn’t seem a breach of the policy.
Scope of Policy at Good Samaritan School:
The policy intends to ensure that no woman employee is subjected to sexual harassment and it is applicable to all the employees of Good Samaritan Schools and its association. We, at Good Samaritan School are committed to adhere to SHWW, in the strictest of manners. The policy stands applicable to all the members of our school, including employers and those who are employed on regular, temporary, on a daily wage basis, etc., as elaborated in clause (f) of the Section 2 of the SHWW Act, 2013. The policy also extends to those who are not employees of the school such as parents, service providers, visitors, interns, contract workers, suppliers, etc. the policy is restricted to the work-locations of a school and any external location visited by the employees during the course of employment whether inside or outside of India. If sexual harassment occurs against any female employee as a result of an act by a third party or outsider while an official duty, committee will take all necessary and reasonable steps as per the applicable rules and regulations, to initiate action at the workplace of the third party or outsider.
What amounts to Sexual Harassment under SHWW Act, 2013:
The Act has defined what constitutes sexual harassment under Section 2 (n) and states that any of the following (directly or by implication) shall mean sexual harassment:
- Physical contact and advances;
- A demand or request for sexual favours;
- Making sexually coloured remarks;
- Showing pornography;
- Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
The Act, under Section 3, has further broadened the definitions of sexual harassment by providing that any of the following circumstances, related to sexual harassment, may also amount to sexual harassment:
- Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in her employment;
- Implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in her employment ;
- Implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status;
- Interference with her work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for her;
- Humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety.
The definition is very wide, as it provides for direct or implied sexual conduct, which may mean that what is ‘implied’ sexual behaviour for one person, may not be the same for another person. Hence, the implied behaviour will depend only upon the interpretation of a person. The definition also provides that harassment may be a verbal or non-verbal conduct.
What is NOT Sexual Harassment?
There may be accidental/ casual/ work related physical or verbal contact which does not amount to Sexual Harassment.
- A noisy argument or disagreement in the context of an unwelcome environment at the workplace
- An isolated incidence of intemperate language against a female employee
- Insisting that work performance meets the set job standards
- Reprimand employee for not meeting work related set deadlines/targets
- Stress caused because of poor performance/ not meeting targets or deadlines
- Constructive criticism/ feedback on work
- Accidental touching/ brushing against/ pushing without a sexual connotation
These will NOT be considered as sexual harassment and DO NOT constitute an offence under the SHWW Act 2013.
However, if such acts/behaviours are a reaction to rejection of sexual advances of request for sexual favours, then it is a clear case of sexual harassment under the SHWW Act, 2013.