F. No. 11013/2/2014-Estt.A-III
Government of India
Ministry of Personnel, PG & Pension
Department of Personnel & Training
Establishment A-III Desk
North Block, New Delhi
Dated 5 May, 2015
Subject: Meeting held on 16.04.2015 to review the progress of implementation of the guidelines on prevention of sexual harassment of women at the workplace- forwarding of minutes – regarding.
The undersigned is directed to forward herewith a copy of the Minutes of the above meeting held on 16.4.2015 for information and action as appropriate.
Telefax: 2309 3176
Encl: as above
A meeting was convened under the chairmanship of Secretary, Department of Personnel & Training, to review the progress of implementation of the guidelines on prevention of sexual harassment of women at the workplace. The Chairpersons of the Complaint Committees set up in the Ministries / Departments had been invited. The list of participants is annexed.
2. Joint Secretary (Establishment) [JS(E)] in DOPT welcomed the participants from various Ministries / Departments located in Delhi and outside. She explained that the purpose of the meeting was that ever since setting up the Complaints Committees in the wake of the historic Vishakha judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in a matter relating to sexual harassment of women at the workplace, the issue had not been adequately discussed. The meeting sought to review the progress of implementation of the guidelines issued by the Apex Court. JS(E) referred to the various guidelines issued from time to time. The Sexual Harassment of Women at workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 [SHWW(PPR) Act] had been promulgated on 22.4.2013 and the rules framed thereunder were notified in December, 2013. The amendments since made in the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964 and the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control & Appeal) Rules, 1965 to align them with the provisions of the Act were also flagged.
3. A presentation on all the applicable guidelines and rules on the issue was made by Director (Establishment) in the Department. The presentation covered the guidelines of Apex Court in the Vishakha case, the earlier provisions of the Conduct Rules and the amendments made in November, 2014. During the presentation, the attention of the participants was also drawn to the DOPT’s guidelines issued vide Office Memorandum dated 27.11.2014 and 02.02.2015, which summarized the extant provisions relating to setting up and functioning of Internal Complaint Committees.
4. Upon conclusion of the presentation, JS(E) invited the participants to share their experiences as the Chairpersons of the Committees and also to seek clarifications, if any, on the issue. The participants were very appreciative of the initiative of Secretary(Personnel) in calling this meeting. They found the discussion of the salient features of the Act, such as the requirement to refer the complaints to the Disciplinary Authorities so as to avoid instances of non-compliance of the procedure for inquiry laid down in the rules, and the provision calling for action if a compliant is found false, as very helpful. The participants desired to know if the mandate of the Committees could be increased so as to address the general concerns of the women employees as well.
5. At this point the Chairman shared his experience of his involvement in a Conference called by Public Sector Undertaking on Women’s Participation in Public Sector. He mentioned that the available data indicates that efforts need to be intensified so that the various welfare measures introduced from time to time actually reach women employees. He mentioned that the women employees were not represented in adequate numbers in various training programmes. He said that while results of most examinations at various academic levels show exceptional achievement of girl students, the percentage of representation of women in work force remains dismally low. He stressed the need for making the working environment more conducive to the women as their percentage of representation, though low at this stage, is likely to rise in the coming years. On the general observation made by the participants regarding increasing the ambit of the Internal Complaint Committees, Secretary (P) mentioned that the Committees which are supposed to meet on regular basis should also invite the women workers for general consultations. He suggested that the Committees could play an active role in making the working environment more conducive by looking into some general issues such as grant of child care leave, increasing the representation in training for women, looking at the status of availability of basic facilities such as toilets, crèche, women staff room, etc. He said that it is time that the Chairpersons of the Committees realized that he Compliant Committees headed by them are fairly empowered and much can be done by them.
6. During the discussion, Director(DoPT), Chairperson of the Committee in DOPT, shared her experience as the Head of the Committee during the last few years. She mentioned that the Committee in DOPT is called as the Women Welfare Committee as it embraces and addresses concerns and complaints of all kinds from the women employees, including welfare. She mentioned that for the last three years the Committee has been holding half-day workshops on International Women’s Day, which have been well received by the women employees, as it had provided a platform where all issues that may cross the minds of women employees are attempted to be addressed.
7. On the issue of crèches, some participants requested Secretary (P) to direct DoPT officials to play an active role in setting up of crèches in more buildings. Secretary(P) assured that the needful could be done, but proactive role has to be played by concerned departments. He advised them to explore the possibility of ear-marking spaces in their buildings, so that crèches could come up at more places.
8. The participants also stressed the need to increase awareness amongst the male employees on how the rules had been amended to prevent instances of harassment of women employees. The participants favoured inclusion of this subject in training programmes run by ISTM and other training institutes and that more and more male employees need to be put through gender sensitization programmes. JS(E) mentioned that gender sensitization was already a part of the training programmes and modules being conducted by ISTM and other training academies. She mentioned that the Committees should do their best to increase awareness by having regular interactions with the women employees, particularly new entrants in service, so that a feeling of confidence could be developed in them. She mentioned that only through regular interaction could it be ascertained as to what the problems being faced by them were. She mentioned that the Compliant Committees could issue guidelines and even instructions at their end to the administration of the Ministry / Department, if they are found wanting in their duties towards the women employees. Some other general issues which were raised by many participants related to admissibility of travelling allowance, dearness allowance to the Members of the Committees and also to the Members from NGOs / other authorities, which were also clarified.
9. Secretary (P) suggested to the participants that they could write to DOPT officials on any other matter of their concern and seek their response and guidance. He suggested that such meetings could be held on regular basis, so that the participants could benefit from each other’s experience as functionaries of the Compliant Committees. He mentioned that he Government is committed to asserting its role as an ideal employer and providing a safer and conducive workplace to the women employees was part of the resolve. He summed up by stating that the Committees need to expand their role, so that we could reach the ideal situation where there is no instance of harassment of women employees.
10. The meeting ended with a vote of thanks to the Chair.