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India introduces harassment legislation

Prime Minster Narendra Modi recently called for a new commitment on behalf of Indian society to challenge and end injustice. His speech comes on the back of his reforming agenda to tackle unnecessary bureaucracy and attempt to re-stimulate the Indian economy.

India flagMuch was made of the fact that the nation state was in a position to be one of the leading global economies, as part of the BRICS grouping, but it is fair to say that the India economy has lagged behind over the last 18 months or so.

PM Modi’s comments build on recent changes that have been introduced into the Indian labour market following the implementation of legislation to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace. This was perceived as a major problem as traditionally there had been no protection for employees.

The legislation requires employers to create an environment which is free from sexual harassment and provide a complaints procedure.

However, the legislation has been criticised in some quarters on the following grounds:-

  • The protection is given to women and not men;
  • There is still no reference to victimisation as one would perceive the concept in the UK nor is there clarity in the definition of what actually constitutes sexual harassment;
  • If a complaint is seen as false or malicious then there are provisions to allow the employer to take action against the complainant. Although on the face of it this may seem a positive step it could be open to abuse by employers;
  • There is no outline or details regarding monetary liability on the employer to pay the injured party in a case of harassment;
  • The Indian government did not see the opportunity to broaden issues in relation to dealing with discrimination in the work place to other areas that one would expect in the UK and EU.

Obviously there are a broad range of different cultural issues to address in such a diverse ethnic labour market, but for companies investing in India it is still probably wise to follow the main principles and values of anti-discrimination legislation in the EU to ensure that the workplace is a safe one for their employees and workers, and indeed accords with the new tone being set by Prime Minster Modi.

Other blogs of interest in our BRICs series

Social justice for workers key focus in Brazil

Focus on Russia: Equality issues remain an enigma

China: All Change?

Keep up to date and Follow us: @DWF_Employment

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Legal news, views, trends and tools for HR Professionals. Stay ahead. Go further