New Delhi: Taking it a step towards making a safe workplace a reality for women, the Lok Sabha Monday passed a bill which would protect women, including millions employed as domestic help, against sexual harassment at work.
The bill, which still has to get the Rajya Sabha’s nod, covers under its list of offences sexual remarks, demand for sexual favour, or any act of physical advance or an unwelcome touch.
Inclusion of domestic help in the bill will benefit about 47.5 lakh women registered as domestic workers in the country. The original version of the bill, which was introduced in Lok Sabha in 2010, did not include domestic help.
The government had then said that it would be practically difficult to cover domestic help, as they worked in homes which were private places. Domestic workers, according to government data, account for 30 percent of India’s female workforce.
The bill defines domestic worker as a woman employed to do household work in any household for remuneration whether in cash or kind, either directly or through any agency on temporary, permanent, part-time or full-time basis, but does not include any member of the family of the employer.
The bill mandates an internal complaint committee for any organisation with 10 or more employees. For an employer not following this, the penalty will be Rs.50,000. Repeated violations may lead to higher penalties and cancellation of licence or registration to conduct business.
The bill covers not only employees, but also clients, customers, apprentice, or daily wage workers who enter the workplace.