Bonus dues can be held by employers for employees found guilty of sexual harassment, the Centre’s rules as part of the Code on Wages could state, the Hindu reported. As things currently stand, the only reasons for which bonus dues can be barred are for fraud, violent behaviour, theft, misappropriation or sabotage, and violent conduct.
The Code on Wages states that an employee who has been dismissed from service because they were convicted of sexual harassment will be disqualified from receiving a bonus. While the code says that to be barred from bonus the employee needs to be at the establishment’s premise in case of violent behaviour theft, misappropriation or sabotage of any property of the establishment, this condition does not apply for sexual harassment.
The Code on Wages Bill, 2019 — which seeks to amend and consolidate the laws relating to wages, bonus and matters connected therewith — was passed in the Rajya Sabha in August 2019 and subsumes the Minimum Wages Act, Payment of Wages Act, Payment of Bonus Act and Equal Remuneration Act. The Code universalised the provision of minimum wages and timely payment of wages to all employees irrespective of the sector and wage ceiling, he said. At present, the provisions of both the Minimum Wages Act and Payment of Wages Act apply on workers below a particular wage ceiling working in Scheduled Employments only.
The draft rules for the code were put out in July, and the rules are expected to be notified soon, after which the Code will become operational.
“The prospect of losing one’s benefits may make employees more careful of their conduct and they should be made aware of this provision. Money is important to everyone, after all, so this serves as an additional deterrent apart from the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) law of 2013,” Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder and executive vice-president of Teamlease Services Limited, told the Hindu.
As per The Sexual Harassment Of Women At Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition And Redressal) Act, 2013, sexual harassment includes one or more of the acts or behaviour — directly or by implication — of physical contact or advances, demand or request for sexual favours, making sexually coloured remarks, showing porn, or any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature. As per the law, an organisation with 10 or more employees need to have an internal committee to receive and redress complaints on sexual harassment at the workplace. This committee will investigate and make recommendations to the employers on the action required.
Rituparna told the Hindu, “If the ICC upholds a complaint, it could be construed as a conviction.”