We lately interviewed the authors of the e-book ‘Understanding Workplace Laws For Women In India‘- Esha Shekhar and Neha Koshy. The book is a theoretical and practical guide on implementing women-specific workplace laws at different organisations. In the interview, the authors tell us about the idea behind the book, who it would be helpful for and the state of the law in the country today. You could find the book here.
- Can you tell us briefly what this book is about?
NK: This book published by Bloomsbury Professional India is a guide providing a practical and simplified analysis of the labour laws applicable to women at workplaces in India. The book aims to provide a ready for reference understanding of the concepts and procedures of the provisions of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 and the various provisions relating to female employees and workers under the new 2020 Labour Codes. The book is also a reference for provisions specific to female employees at shops and establishments under key state-specific shops and establishment legislations and contains a comparative table of the provisions in the erstwhile and parallel changes brought about by the applicable 2020 Labour Codes.
- What prompted you to write this book?
NK: The confusion around the implementation of workplace laws for women and the absence of a consolidated summary on workplace laws for women prompted us to write the book. We wrote this book with the aim to simplify workplace laws for women in India. The objective has been to bring this conversation into the mainstream, rather than be lost in the gamut of general labour law implementation in India.
- Who is the book aimed at? Please tell us how people from different groups will find this book useful.
NK: The book is aimed at in-house lawyers, HR professionals and practising advocates. For in-house lawyers and HR professionals, this book is a guide on the implementation of women-specific workplace laws at their organisation. The book contains practical scenarios and questions that come up during the implementation of these laws for female employees and we have incorporated the same through Frequently Asked Questions and Compliance Checklists for each topic. Labour lawyers and practising advocates can use this book as a referencer for the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 and the various provisions relating to female employees and workers under the new 2020 Labour Codes. The book covers detailed sections on case law precedents for POSH Act and maternity benefits updated till 2020.
- What are some interesting discoveries you had while working on the book?
NK: We were surprised with the sheer volume of precedents on the subject of POSH and maternity law. It was a discovery to find out how much the market was in need of a book on this subject and the dearth of literature existing in this area.
- What is your take on the current scenario regarding the implementation of the POSH Act? What are some major hurdles in its implementation? Any recommendations to make it better?
ES: Implementation of the POSH Act in India is still in a nascent stage. The organized sector woke up about the direct and indirect implications of non-compliance with this law when the global #metoo movement entered India. Bigger organizations and MNCs had a higher rate of compliance before 2018. Now, more MSMEs including startups are looking into the implementation of the law.
However, the implementation of the law for the unorganized sector has been practically nil. The implementation here is dependent on setting up Local Committees and conducting awareness sessions at the district level. This has not been done yet in the majority of states in India.
Some of the major hurdles in implementing the POSH Act include the lack of consequences for non-implementation. Even though the law specifies consequences, the lack of an organized process to track non-compliance like other labour compliance laws is a major hurdle in ensuring more organizations set up ICs and comply with POSH Act in general. Many organizations with more than 10 employees still do not have ICs formed and state governments do not have any mechanism to track this. Only Telangana and districts like Noida- Greater Noida have set up online mechanisms to record-setting up of ICs and submission of annual reports by organizations. Central government has set up SHE Box to record non-compliance of the law, but the real change will happen when the state governments start tracking the setting up of ICs in their district so that organizations remain serious about complying with this law.
- What kind of challenges do people working in an online setup face while taking recourse to the POSH Act? Is the POSH Act equipped to deal with online workspaces?
ES: POSH Act is equipped to deal with online workspaces since the definition of ‘workplace’ under regulation digital workplaces as well. Therefore, all the web mediums being utilized by workplaces- be it Zoom, Slack, Google Hangout and so on grow to be workspaces. The problem nevertheless has been the dearth of communication inside organizations to teach group members on sustaining an expert atmosphere whereas working in an on-line setup. In on-line setups, instances have been reported of lewd conversations, inappropriate dressing on zoom calls, persistent and late-night calls on the pretext of labor and so on. Along with this, most ICs haven’t been capable of transition on-line as a result of an absence of effort from organizations. So people who find themselves going through sexual harassment should not certain what place and the best way to report such instances inside their very own group. Therefore, it’s important for organizations to do 2 issues: 1) ship common communications to their group on sustaining skilled requirements whereas working on-line 2) assist their ICs to maneuver on-line and arrange methods to let girls reach out to ICs and get their complaints redressed.
- Recently, persons are additionally specialising on this space of regulation. Any phrase of recommendation for folks desirous to make a profession on this discipline?
There remains to be a lack of know-how concerning the office legal guidelines targeted on girls. It is vital that individuals specializing on this space of regulation work in the direction of rising consciousness. Our recommendation could be to concentrate on small & medium enterprises and startups inside the organized sector who lack advisors to assist them perceive the best way to implement such legal guidelines at their office.
- While all interviews speak concerning the successes of the interviewees. We additionally wish to show the human facet to them. Can you please speak concerning the challenges which you encountered whereas penning this e-book? What have been your learnings from these?
There have been definitely challenges whereas penning this e-book The greatest problem was adhering to strict timelines from the writer’s facet whereas additionally managing our each day work. It was a fantastic studying experience for each of us to work with the Bloomsbury group and undergo the rigours of a number of rounds of edits earlier than the printed model was finalized. Since we have now lined every regulation each from the attitude of compliance as well as authorized jurisprudence, the analysis work took time. We are very grateful to 2 regulation students- Nipuna Varman (NALSAR, Hyderabad) and Kaainat Pundir (JGLS, Sonipat) who assisted us in researching for the e-book.
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Umang graduated from NUJS in 2019. After that, he labored at L&L Partners earlier than taking on the function of an Editor at Lawctopus. You can discover him on Twitter @UmangPod, and browse a few of his different writings at twodsinapodd.wordpress.com.