There is a certain safety in numbers. The Haryana government certainly seems to think so. Now, in an effort to ensure better security for women working on the graveyard shifts, the state government said on Friday that BPO and call centre companies in the state would have to make sure that at least 10 per cent of the employees working at night were women.
Companies would also have to comply with the revised security guidelines if they wanted annual renewals to the permission to employ women during night shifts.
Haryana labour commissioner K.K. Khandelwal said, "Some of the provisions made for the security of women in BPOs were not statutory. But now we have issued permissions to BPOs to employ women for the night shift only after they have complied with the revised security guidelines." It may be recalled that in December 2005 the gruesome rape and murder of a Bangalore call centre employee by a cab driver had spurred police in Delhi and the call-centre hubs of Gurgaon and Noida to beef-up security for the thousands of women working the graveyard shift.
Companies can now only engage security escorts from a registered agency, and maintain a record of the movement of the guards and all women employees. The police must also verify the credentials of the all security escorts. Each cab driver will now have to report the movement status of each woman employee via a mandatory mobile phone.
Business Process Industry Association of India spokesman Deepak Kapoor claims the measures are not new and that "the only difference is that the government has now made it mandatory".