The Protection Against Harassment of Women at workplace

Government of Pakistan enacted a Bill titled, “Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, 2010”. This act provides legal protection to women against harassment at workplaces by declaring the offense as a punishable crime ranging from mild reprimands to dismissal from the service.

Definition of Sexual Harassment: The bill also defines sexual harassment as: 

“any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors or other verbal or written communication or physical conduct of a sexual nature or sexually demeaning attitudes, causing interference with work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment or the attempt to punish the complainant for refusal to comply to such a request or to make it a condition for employment.”

Examples of Harassment

  • Offensive name calling - Jokes - Pictures
  • Unwanted Touching, Sexual Advances
  • Offensive Sexual Remarks
  • Hindering Work of Employee for Sexual Gains
  • Limiting Access to Someone

Important Points: The following points constitute important parts of the Bill “Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, 2010”. These are:

Inquiry Committee:

  • Inquiry committee to be constituted by the organization as soon as the complaint is received  
  • The inquiry committee shall have at least one woman member, one senior management and one member from a labor union and the chairperson to be selected from among them

How it Works:

The procedure of inquiry pertains to the following points, such as:

  • Within 3 days of the written complaint received, the inquiry committee conveys the charges to accused
  • Accused has to reply in writing within 7 days
  • The committee conducts its own independent inquiry in an impartial way
  • The inquiry committee submits a report within 30 days and propose penalty if the accused is found guilty

Penalty: If the competent inquiry committee finds the accused as guilty, then following possible penalties can be imposed with varied magnitudes, such as:

  1. Minor Penalties:  Firing or demoting the guilty party.
  2. Major Penalties:  Forced retirement, dismissal from service and fine (can be paid to the complainant as compensation)

Other Details:

  • Organization to implement the decision within seven days of the decision notice
  • The aggrieved party can appeal  the penalty verdict to the ombudsman with 30 days of the decision
  • An employee has the right to take the company to court for failure to follow the bill in letter and spirit. The penalty for such negligence can be up to 100,000 rupees.