The long-pending bill against sexual harassment in workplaces includes women even if they are not employed in a particular organisation where they faced such problems, but excludes domestic maids as they are working at home.
The definition of aggrieved woman given by the bill includes a woman of any age who alleges to have been subjected to any act of sexual harassment by the respondent and will apply to a woman whether employed or not.
"Employee" means a person employed at a workplace for any work on regular, temporary, ad-hoc or daily wage basis, either directly or through a contractor whether for remuneration or on a voluntary basis and includes a contract worker, probationer, trainee apprentice, but does not include domestic maids working at home, the bill says.
In order to address complaints related to sexual harassment, the bill envisages formation of committees in each organisation which has more than 10 workers or a local committee at the level of district or sub-district if it is an organisation with less than 10 people.
The internal committee shall consist of a presiding officer who shall be a woman employed at a senior level, not less than two members from amongst employees, one member from amongst non-governmental organisations or associations committed to the cause of women.
At least half of the total members so nominated shall be women.
The Local Complaints Committee shall consist of a chairperson to be nominated from amongst the eminent women in the field of social work and committed to the cause of women.
The other members would be nominated from amongst women working in block, taluka or tehsil or ward or municipality in the district.
Two members of whom at least one shall be a woman will be nominated from amongst such non-governmental organisations or association committed to the cause of women, which may be prescribed, provided at least one of the nominees should, preferably, have a background in law or legal knowledge.
"The bill was in the pipeline for long and would now be presented in Parliament. This is sure to improve the lot of women in workplaces," Minister of State for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath said.
The bill was passed by a meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday.