The Firm is committed to treating every employee with dignity and respect. We seek to create a work environment that is free from sexual harassment of any kind, whether verbal, physical or visual.
This policy provides guidelines for prompt redressal of complaints related to sexual harassment and is also in full compliance with “The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal)” Act, 2013 (the “Act”). All references/ complaints pertaining to any matter will be handled within the ambit of the said Act and the Rules framed thereunder.
- Applicability and Scope
All allegations of sexual harassment by employees, retainers, or consultants working for the Firm are covered under this policy. The workplace for the purpose of this policy is defined as the office, any official
travel or transport provided by the Firm, off-sites, team events, social events related to work, any venue whereby an employee finds themselves as a result of work or duties.
Definitions of terms under this Policy shall be the same as provided under the Act, unless stated otherwise herein. In case of any ambiguity, the definitions as provided under the Act shall take precedence over the ones provided herein.
- Sexual Harassment: “Sexual Harassment” includes any unwelcome, sexually determined behavior, directed by implication, and includes any physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favors, making sexually colored and unsavory remarks, showing pornography, any other unwelcome physical (for example, touching or brushing against any part of the body and the like, etc.), verbal or non verbal conduct having sexual overtones. For the purposes of this policy “Sexual Harassment” shall include, but will not be limited to the following:
- Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and / or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature made, either explicitly or implicitly, whether or not in return for a term or condition of instruction, employment, participation or evaluation of a person’s engagement in any Firm activity.
- When unwelcome sexual advances and/ or verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct such as loaded comments, remarks or jokes, letters, phone calls or through mobile or e-mail, SMS, MMS, gestures, showing of pornography, lurid stares, physical contact or molestation, stalking, sounds or display of a derogatory nature have the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual’s performance or of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.
- Forcible physical touch or molestation, eve teasing, innuendos and taunts, physical confinement against one’s will and any other act likely to impinge upon one’s privacy.
- Any act or conduct by a person in authority and belonging to one sex which denies or would deny equal opportunity in pursuit of career development or otherwise making the environment at the workplace hostile or intimidating to a person belonging to the other / same sex.
- When any such conduct is committed by a third party or outsider in relation to an Employee of the Firm, or vice versa during the course of employment.
- Complainant/ Aggrieved Woman: Means in relation to a workplace, a woman of any age, whether employed or not, who alleges to have been subjected to any act of sexual harassment at the workplace by another person. The definition of Complainant/Aggrieved person for the purpose of this policy extends to all women employees irrespective of status of employment and includes full time employees, part time employees, contract workers, temporary staff, interns, trainees, vendors, consultants, etc.
- Internal Committee / Complaints Committee / Committee: means an Internal Committee constituted under Section 4 of the Act.
- Policy Guidelines:
- Sexual Harassment Circumstances: Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:
- Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in employment; or
- Implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in employment; or
- Implied or explicit threat about present or future employment status; or
- Interference with work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment; or
- Humiliating treatment likely to affect health or safety.
- The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.
- Harassment can occur in person, over the phone (including voice mail), over the internet or e-mail or any other form of communication.
- The harasser can be the complainant’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker or a non-employee.
- Third-party Harassment: The Firm also stands committed to take appropriate preventive and remedial action to prevent sexual harassment of its employees by non-employees and vice-versa.
- Harassment-Free Working Conditions: It is the responsibility of each employee to create an atmosphere free of harassment and respect the rights of fellow employees, thus, maintaining a positive and healthy work environment for all.
The Firm expects all supervisors and senior leaders to take appropriate steps to prevent or deter acts of sexual harassment.
- Awareness about the policy: The Firm would take all requisite steps to ensure effective dissemination of this policy through workshops, awareness programs and printed communications in accordance with the Act.
- Detailed Procedure:
- Internal Committee: An “Internal Committee” has been constituted as per the Act. The Committee will be headed by a senior woman, more than half its members will be women and will include an independent third party representative from an NGO.
The Committee will be responsible for ensuring that a fair process is duly followed for every compliant raised.
- Committee Responsibilities: All complaints of sexual discrimination or harassment will be treated in a serious manner and as per the Act and the Committee will ensure that:
- An appropriate investigation of complaints is conducted.
- No reprisal or retaliatory action is taken or tolerated against the complainant.
- Sensitive nature of the complaint and the respective position in the Firm of the parties are kept in mind during investigation.
- Fair process and principles of natural justice are followed.
- Complaint Mechanism: Employees who believe they are experiencing sexual harassment may follow the steps below:
- If the employee feels comfortable he/she may first directly talk to the harasser that he/she considers the behavior inappropriate and that the conduct is unwelcome and wants it to stop. It is important that this is said very firmly and clearly.
- If the harassment still persists, the employee may report the situation to his/her supervisor
- Employee can also report the situation to any level of management, at any time, who shall escalate the same to IC immediately.
- The employee may use the complaint mechanism and file a written complaint to the Internal Committee in the suggested-manner in Annexure 2
- The employee may also e-mail the complaint in the given format addressed to the chairperson of the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Initiating Action: Any aggrieved employee may approach the Complaints Committee with a complaint of sexual harassment under this Policy. The following steps will be followed in this regard:
a. A complaint of sexual harassment can be filed within a time limit of three (3) months from the date of the last incident. This may be extended to another three (3) months upon satisfactory reason provided for the delay in reporting.
b. An employee making a complaint (“Complainant”) has to give the complaint to the Complaints Committee in writing along with supporting documents, names and addresses of witnesses and the said complaint will be afforded confidentiality as prescribed by law.
c. No person against whom a complaint is made shall be part of the Complaints Committee.
- Investigation Process: On receipt of the complaint, the process as described under the Act shall be followed.
During the pendency of the investigation process depending upon the facts and circumstances of the complaint, the Committee may recommend to the Firm to take certain pre-emptive steps in support of the complainant, like transfer of workplace, grant of leave etc. to support a free & fair investigation.
- Protection against False Accusations: Where the Internal Committee arrives at a conclusion that the allegations against the harasser/ respondent is malicious or the complainant/ aggrieved woman making the complaint has made the complaint knowing it to be false or the complainant/ aggrieved woman making the complaint has produced any forged or misleading document, or the employee appearing as a witness deposes falsely, the Internal Committee may recommend to the Firm to take action against the complainant/ aggrieved woman who has made the complaint or the witness who has deposed falsely in accordance with the provisions of Service Terms & Conditions applicable to him/ her, which may even include dismissal from service.
- The Firm in such cases would also take appropriate steps to restore the reputation of the accused person in accordance with law.
- Records and Reports: Records shall be maintained for all complaints received and actioned. The Internal Committee will make an annual report detailing number of complaints received, number of complaints disposed, pending complaints and action taken by the Firm and the same shall be submitted to the Human Resources Department of the Firm.
- Non – Retaliation and Transfer Request: No retaliation or intimidation directed at anyone who makes/assists in filing a complaint or is a witness to the investigation will be tolerated.
If the harassment charge is proved, the victim of sexual harassment will have the option to seek transfer of the harasser or their own transfer.
- Corrective Action: Upon receipt of the findings of the Committee, Management will pronounce its verdict with regard to the charges against the harasser. A copy of the same will be sent to Human Resources Department of the Firm for further action.
Human Resources will communicate in writing the findings of the Committee) to the harasser and give him/her an opportunity, if required under law, to explain the conduct and as to why no action should be taken against him/her.
Upon receipt of the explanation, Human Resources will decide the nature and quantum of punishment in accordance with the Committee recommendations and the Firm’s Service terms and conditions.
- Punishment for Sexual harassment:
- Penalties: If an employee is found to have violated this Policy, the Management shall take such action as may be appropriate action for misconduct by the employee under the Firm’s policy and service rules. Such actions may include any of the following
a) Written apology;
c) Reprimand or censure;
d) Withholding of promotion;
e) Withholding of pay rise or increments;
f) Termination of employment;
g) Counselling session; or
h) Carrying out community service.
- Compensation: If the Complaints Committee concludes that a serious instance of sexual harassment is proved against the Counter Party, the Committee can also recommend monetary compensation in favour of the Complainant by way of deduction from the salary or wages of the Counter Party, in an amount that it may consider appropriate to be paid to the Complainant and in accordance with applicable law.
In the event the Complainant decides to pursue personal action against the Counter Party, the Firm will provide all assistance and cooperation in any investigation by the relevant law enforcement agencies.
3. The Complainant upon request is entitled to leave as per statutory guidelines during pendency of the proceedings.
The provisions of this Policy are in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of the Act, as amended from time to time, or any law in force from time to time. The provisions of the Act shall always be held sacrosanct and shall be followed by the Committee and the Firm.
Any matter not specifically covered under the above guidelines shall be referred to Human Resources for necessary advice. The interpretation of this policy rests exclusively with the Firm. The decision of the Firm shall be final and binding.