Sexual harassment includes any unwelcome acts or behavior (direct or implied) such as physical contact and advances; demand or request for sexual favors; making sexually colored remarks; showing pornography; any conduct with a purpose of interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment and/or submission to such conduct is either an explicit or implicit condition to employment; any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature; and is dependent on the facts and circumstances of the case. An elaborate list of indicative behaviors that may constitute sexual harassment is provided in Enclosure 1 hereto.
Sexual Harassment may be:
- “Quid pro quo” (this for that): when decisions regarding employment or day to day work are promised, threatened or given, based upon whether one or more colleagues will submit to sexually-oriented conduct.
- “Hostile environment”: A hostile work environment exists where the sexually oriented conduct of one colleague creates an offensive and unpleasant working environment for any other colleague.
- Sexual harassment may not be confined to the workplace (see below definition of workplace).
- Gender is irrelevant – same sex harassment situations are also considered sexual harassment.
In determining whether alleged sexual harassment conduct warrants corrective action, all relevant circumstances, including the context in which the conduct occurred, will be considered.
WHO IS COVERED?
All colleagues of the Company, including those employed on contractual basis, are covered under the present policy. The policy also extends to the following persons who are subjected to sexual harassment at the workplace –
- Job applicants
- Interns and trainees
- Third parties/ agencies such as contract workers, consultants and other professionals
- Contractors/ Vendors and their colleagues
- Persons working on voluntary basis/ without remuneration
DEFINITION OF WORKPLACE
Anviti, through this policy, attempts to create a positive work environment at all its locations. However, considering the sensitive nature of this initiative, the definition of the workplace / office has been enlarged to include any location where colleagues work. Apart from the work locations, ‘workplace’ will also mean any place visited by the colleague arising out of or during the course of employment including transportation provided by Anviti for undertaking such journey. An act of harassment outside of the office premises of Anviti but within the workplace, may fall under the ambit of this policy and the Company reserves the right to pursue cases on their merit and circumstances with / without regard to the place where the incident of harassment occurred.
THE WORK SECURE GROUP (“WSG”)
- Awareness Creation:In order to create awareness and understanding about sexual harassment at the workplace and prevent such harassment and promote a gender sensitive work culture, an internal complaints committee called the Work Secure Group (“WSG” or “Group”) has been set up. The Group will conduct workshops, prepare communiqués (including induction packs) and train supervisors / managers.
- Deal with Grievances:The Group will address and resolve complaints of sexual harassment that have arisen at the workplace.
Composition and Term of the WSG
The Company has set up the WSG consisting of four members per location:
- A Chairperson – who is a female colleague employed at a senior level.
- One female colleague
- One male colleague
- An external female member from amongst non-governmental organizations or associations committed to the cause of women or who is familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment.
The WSG will designate Contact Officers or WSG representatives.
The term of the WSG shall be two years from the date of its appointment. However, the Board may temporarily extend the term of the WSG in order to dispose of any pending complaint.
The WSG shall prepare a quarterly report on its workings, the cases, outcomes and legal risks if any. This report will be made available by the Chairperson to the management of Anviti for necessary action, if any.
The WSG shall meet quarterly to enforce compliance with this policy and the rules made here.
TRAINING & AWARENESS
The PPC department, in coordination with the WSG, shall conduct training sessions for all colleagues about prevention of sexual harassment. Separate training sessions for management and WSG representatives will also be carried out. Awareness campaigns, via workplace posters and emailers, will be done on a regular basis. In addition, quizzes/seminars/workshops will be conducted from time to time to create awareness and communicate updates.
REPORTING SEXUAL HARASSMENT
If colleagues experience or witness sexual harassment in the workplace, they should report it immediately to the PPC or WSG or WSG representatives. Colleagues may also report harassment to any member of the leadership team including local office leadership, who is obliged to forward the complaint to the WSG. To the extent possible, the identity of the complainant and that of any witnesses and the alleged harasser will be protected against unnecessary disclosure. When the investigation is completed, the complainant and all others involved will be informed of the outcome of that investigation.
Procedure for Lodging Complaints
Any colleague may lodge a complaint of sexual harassment against another colleague or a third party or vice versa with the Chairperson or any of the other members of the WSG within a period of three months from the date of occurrence of the alleged incident and in case of a series of incidents, within a period of three months from the date of the last incident. Complaints brought after the said time period will be pursued if the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances, as determined by WSG. The onus of producing the necessary evidence will lie with the colleague in such cases.
If the complainant feels that they cannot disclose their identity for any particular reason with the Group members, they can address the complaint directly to the Chairperson.
Anonymous complaints will not be entertained. The Group however, can use its discretion under special circumstances to take up such a complaint.
Procedure for Lodging Complaints where the complainant suffers from incapacity
Where the complainant is unable to personally make a complaint on account of physical incapacity, a complaint may be filed by:
- Their relative or friend; or
- Their co-worker; or
- (Where the complainant is a woman) An officer of the National Commission for Women or the State Women’s Commission; or
- Any person who has knowledge of the incident, with the written consent of the complainant.
Where the complainant is unable to personally make a complaint on account of mental incapacity, a complaint may be filed by:
- Their relative or friend; or
- A special educator; or
- A qualified psychiatrist or psychologist; or
- The guardian or authority under whose care they are receiving treatment / care;
- Any person who has knowledge of the incident, jointly with their relative or friend or a special educator or qualified psychiatrist or psychologist, or guardian or authority under whose care the complainant is receiving treatment or care.
Where the complainant is unable to personally make a complaint for any other reason, a complaint may be filed by any person who has knowledge of the incident with the complainant’s written consent.
Where the complainant is dead, a complaint may be filed by any person who has knowledge of the incident, with the written consent of the complainant’s legal heir.
Approved Communication Channels with the WSG
An email ID called email@example.com has been created to facilitate direct access to the WSG and ensure confidentiality.
Other communication channels shall include, e-mails to the members of the WSG; email to the WSG; official, telephone lines of the Chairperson and members of the WSG; registered and ordinary mail; courier; personal appearance or written complaint handed to the Chairperson or members of the WSG or PPC or any other contact officers as may be appointed by the WSG. Any oral communication must be followed up with written communication.
In the case of a complaint against the Directors of the Company and the Members of the WSG, or relatives of any of the above-mentioned persons, the complaint may be made to the Chairperson of the WSG at firstname.lastname@example.org
Where a colleague makes a complaint to their senior, the senior will forward the complaint directly to the WSG immediately, failing which the senior shall be liable for penalties under the Rules of the Company.
PROCEDURE ON RECEIPT OF COMPLAINTS
A brief interview with the complainant/ victim will be undertaken by the WSG within one working week to determine the nature of the complaint and to establish the nature of the harassment.
- If the complaint prima facie appears to be one of sexual harassment, a formal investigation will be instituted.
- Should the complaint not be one of sexual harassment, the WSG may dismiss the complaint without further investigation and refer the matter to the PPC department.
Step 2: Conciliation
In the event that it is decided that the complaint is a case of sexual harassment and at the request of the complainant, the WSG may, before initiating an inquiry, settle the matter between the complainant and the alleged colleague through conciliation, provided that no monetary settlement shall be made as a basis of conciliation. Where the settlement has been arrived pursuant to such conciliation, the final resolution shall be recorded and forwarded to the Board of Directors and copies of the settlement recorded shall be given to the complainant and the respondent. Where the settlement is arrived through conciliation, no further inquiry will be conducted by the WSG.
Step 3: Investigation
In the absence of a request for conciliation, the Chairperson, along with a two-member team (1 male and 1 female member) nominated by the Chairperson shall conduct an inquiry.
The WSG shall forward a copy of the complaint received from the complainant to the alleged colleague within a period of seven working days from the date of institution of a formal investigation.
The alleged colleague shall file their reply to the complaint along with a list of supporting documents, and names and addresses of witnesses, if any, within a period not exceeding ten working days from the date of receipt of the copy of the complaint.
The WSG shall follow principles of natural justice in all its proceedings and information will only be shared on a need to know basis. All investigation proceedings, findings and investigation reports will be documented and will remain confidential. The investigation will be completed within ninety days.
The WSG may award interim relief to the complainant during the course of investigation to end any further harassment or to safeguard the complainant from threats and retributions, upon a written request made by the complainant for the same. Such interim relief may include transferring the complainant or alleged colleague to other premises, granting leave up to three months to the complainant, in addition to the leave which the complainant is otherwise entitled to and / or restraining the alleged colleague from reporting on the work performance of the complainant.
The WSG will ensure that all parties are dealt with sensitively and with dignity and observe the required confidentiality in all its workings.
The investigation workflow with estimated timelines has been depicted in Enclosure 2.
If the complaint is against a Director of the Company, officers of the rank of Vice President or higher or a member of the WSG, or a relative of any of the above, the Chairperson shall appoint a third-party team (with a minimum of two members), which has no relation to the Company, to investigate the complaint.
The WSG may terminate the inquiry proceedings or give an ex parte decision on the complaint, by giving fifteen days’ notice of the same, if the complainant or alleged colleague fail to present themselves for three consecutive hearings convened in relation to the inquiry, without sufficient cause.
None of the parties to the hearing shall be represented by a legal practitioner at any stage of the proceedings before the WSG.
Note that a colleague has, at any point, the option to withdraw a complaint made. Depending on the stage the complaint has been withdrawn, appropriate reasoning would need to be provided to the WSG or PPC Head.
RECOMMENDATIONS OF WSG AFTER INVESTIGATION OF COMPLAINT
- The WSG will reach a consensual decision by majority on the findings of the investigation report with a casting vote vested in the Chairperson in order to achieve a majority decision.
- The WSG will meet to consider the findings of the investigation report and recommend actions to be taken to the Board of Directors, and a copy of the investigation report shall also be made available to the concerned parties, within a period of ten days from the date of completion of the investigation.
- Based on the recommendations, the Board of Directors will decide on appropriate action in accordance with the Company’s rules of conduct within sixty days from the date of receiving the recommendation.
Any person aggrieved by the recommendations made by the WSG as the outcome of an inquiry, or by the nonimplementation thereof, may prefer an appeal to the appellate authority appointed by the State Government under the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946, within 90 days from the date of such recommendations.
IMPLEMENTATION OF DECISION
The office of the WSG along with appropriate departments shall implement and communicate the decisions of the Board of Directors.
The office of the WSG will also ensure that a closure report is submitted to the Chairperson of the WSG on completion of actions taken. A copy of the report shall be submitted to the local commission as well, as applicable.
- Any colleague who lodges a false complaint shall be liable for disciplinary action as per the rules of the Company.
- Any colleague who threatens or intimidates any colleague who has made a complaint or participated in an investigation can face disciplinary action as per the rules of the Company.
- Every colleague shall have an obligation to cooperate with the WSG in its investigations and implementation of this Policy and any failure to cooperate with the WSG will be deemed a violation of the rules of the Company.
- Behaviour that amounts to sexual harassment may result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.
- The Company has the following options (indicative, but not exhaustive) for actions against a colleague: o Demand for a written apology o Warning, reprimand or censure o Extension of probation o No Compensation/Increment/Promotions o Compensation reduction o Suspension of employment o Termination of employment o Counselling o Community service
The WSG may also recommend counselling, and colleagues must have access to appropriate counselling/ support services. The Company will take reasonable steps to assist in such counselling and support services.
The WSG shall have the power to review and suggest amendments to the policy to the Board of Directors.
- The contents of any complaint, identity and addresses of any complainant / alleged colleague / witnesses, any information relating to conciliation and inquiry proceedings, recommendations of the WSG, and action taken by the Company shall not be published in any manner, provided that information regarding any outcome of an inquiry may be disseminated without disclosing any particulars that may lead to the identification of the complainant / alleged colleague / witnesses.
- Any colleague found contravening this requirement of the maintenance of confidentiality shall be liable to pay a monetary penalty.
- PPC will maintain all the relevant documentation in the colleague files as well as archive it in separate files.
- The WSG shall submit a quarterly report to the Board and the concerned Government Department (if required) on the status of complaints and action taken under these rules.
- The WSG shall also prepare a consolidated annual report to be forwarded to the District Officer appointed by the State Government pursuant to the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
- The WSG shall ensure a quorum of at least 3 members shall be present when taking a decision / meeting.
- The Company shall carry out orientation programs and capacity-building and skill-building programs for the benefit of the members of the WSG towards creating awareness of the issues, legal and otherwise, involved in sexual harassment.
- The Company shall, at regular intervals, conduct workshops and awareness programs to sensitize the colleagues to sexual harassment and the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, and it shall be the duty of each colleague to attend the same.
- The WSG shall further ensure compliance with all applicable law, including the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 and the rules thereunder.
- The Company shall inform the concerned Government Department of the Company’s compliance with applicable laws in this regard.
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment – Examples of Unacceptable Behaviour.
Depending on the circumstances, each of the following kinds of behaviour may be sexual harassment:
- Material that is sexual in nature, sexist, sexually explicit and is displayed in the workplace, circulated, or put in someone’s workspace or belongings, or on a computer or fax machine or on the Internet or any other public display system or public place in the work premises
- Verbal abuse or unwelcome comments that put down people because of their gender
- Unwelcome comments about people’s (women/men) bodies
- Graphic descriptions, or displaying, of pornography
- Pressurizing for dinner outings/dates
- Sexually explicit gestures
- Unwelcome touching and hugging
- Sexist and insulting graffiti
- Sexist jokes and cartoons.
- Obscene phone calls
- Displaying pornography in the workplace
- Insisting that workers wear revealing clothing
- Inappropriate gifts (for example, lingerie)
- Discussion of one’s partner’s sexual inadequacies
- Lewd and threatening letters
- “Accidentally” brushing sexual parts of the body
- Pressing or rubbing up against a victim
- Indecent exposure
- Subtle or overt pressure for sexual favours
- Soliciting sexual services
- Demanding sexual services
- Sexual or physical contact, such as slapping, kissing or touching.
- Intrusive questions about sexual activity
- Sexual assault
- Repeated sexual invitations when the person invited has refused/ignored similar invitations
- Coerced sexual intercourse e.g., as a condition of employment