Home >> Blog >> Violation of conditions imposed by Karnataka Government on IT/ ITES/BT companies to ensure safety of women employees can lead to loss of exemptions
27 Nov 2015

Violation of conditions imposed by Karnataka Government on IT/ ITES/BT companies to ensure safety of women employees can lead to loss of exemptions

Women form a significant portion of the workforce, especially in IT/ITES and BT companies. This is undoubtedly a good thing, as it allows skilled talent to be productive and contribute to India’s GDP. To retain women employees, companies in these industries offer flexible work hours and various other amenities such as crèches and on-campus supermarkets. To facilitate the growth of these industries in Bangalore and elsewhere in the state, the Government of Karnataka exempted companies in these sectors from the generally-applicable restrictions on employing women in night shifts so long as the companies provide transport to women employees and take other measures to protect women’s safety.

While these measures have helped companies retain more women in their workforce, the last few years have also seen a rise in the number of instances of sexual/violent crimes committed against women employees of IT/ITES companies as they travel to/from work (often late at night). Many of these incidents involved drivers of outsourced transport service providers. However, it cannot be denied that these unfortunate incidents have severely dented Bangalore’s image as a relatively safe city for women.

Investigations suggest that some companies may have not complied even with the statutory obligations that the government of Karnataka had imposed on companies from the IT/ITES/BT sectors in consideration of which, the government had allowed them certain exemptions. To reinforce the need for compliance by IT/ITES/BT companies, the government of Karnataka’s Circular No. ITD/180/PrS/2015 dated 15th October, 2015, lists the various conditions under Rule 24-B(2) of the Karnataka Shops & Commercial Establishments Act, 1963 that companies in the knowledge sector must comply with if they are to employ women in night shifts. Non-compliance will result in withdrawal of exemptions. The circular also lists additional guidelines that companies must follow with regard to providing safe transport to women employees.

The government has also recommended that every company shall designate a senior executive as “Women’s Safety Officer” in each of its office establishments. These “Women’s Safety Officers” shall be responsible for overseeing transport and security arrangements for women employees.

CONDITIONS TO BE FOLLOWED Under Rule 24-B(2) of KARNATAKA SHOPS & COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENTS RULES,1963

The regulations stipulated under Sections 7, 8,9,10 and 12 of the Act shall continue to apply to women employees working during night shift.

  • Transport facilities from the residence to workplace and back shall be provided free of cost and with adequate security.
  • Employment of women employees shall be on rotation basis.
  • Adequate number of security guards shall be posted during night shift.
  • Sufficient rest rooms, latrines and washing facilities with adequate water supply shall be provided separately for women employees so as to secure privacy.
  • The establishment should bear the cost of crèche facility obtained by women employees from voluntary or other organizations.
  • Employer has to notify any change in respect of any information furnished in Form R within 15 days.
  • The Company shall obtain bio-data of each driver and conduct pre-employment screening of the antecedents of all drivers employed on their own. As regards the drivers employed throughout sourcing, the company shall ensure to its satisfaction that the collection of bi-data and pre-employment screening of the antecedents of the drivers is carried out by the service providers.
  • The Schedule of route of the pickup and drop shall be decided by the supervisory office of the company only. In case of exigencies, change of drivers/routes/shifts shall be allowed only with the prior knowledge of supervisory officers/employees.
  • Telephone numbers (particularly mobile phone numbers) and addresses of women employees shall not be disclosed to unauthorized persons.
  • Routes shall be carefully selected such that ordinarily, no women employees shall be picked up first and dropped last.
  • The company shall provide security guards at work place and for night shift vehicles when women employees are being picked up first or dropped last.
  • The designation supervisors of the company/service providers may randomly check the vehicles on various routes as far as possible.
  • Company shall have a control room/travel desk for monitoring vehicle movements.
  • Breach of aforesaid conditions attracts withdrawal of exemption granted.

ADDITIONAL GUIDELINES

  • Conduct information sessions on women’s rights for safe transport and also their duties towards safe travel.
  • Women to be provided escorts from drops starting at 6.45 pm to pickups till 7 am. The 6.45 pm timing is there to avoid issues in case of traffic jams or similar delays.
  • Individual SMS to be sent (to each woman employee) for each trip with details of vehicle, driver and approximate pickup time.
  • Each trip sheet for escort duty must carry a special prominent sticker marking it as a critical trip and that cabs are allowed to proceed for drops only after transport checks and that there is an escort present in the cab. For pickups, the cab is sent on an empty trip along with an escort from the office location to the pick-up location to ensure presence of escort (when the woman employee boards the vehicle).
  • At the end of each escorted trip, women employees to sign off on safe arrival at destination.
  • Women employees to be empowered to refuse boarding a cab if they feel uncomfortable for any reason. There is to be no penalty for late reporting or even absence due to such a situation.
  • Women employees are not to be allowed to sit in the front seat.
  • Women employees are to be mandated to report any concern immediately and expect action.
  • Special care to be taken in terms of cab routing and occupancy for transportation of pregnant women employees.
  • Conduct regular briefing to transport agencies, drivers and security escorts on the importance of safety and their responsibilities.
  • Incorporate guidelines around background verification check for drivers employed by transport providers.
  • Regular/random breath check of drivers/support staff to avoid drunken drivers/support staff.
  • The designated supervisors of the company/service providers may randomly check vehicles on various routes as far as possible.
  • Company shall have a control room/travel desk for monitoring movement of vehicles.

Breach of aforesaid conditions attracts withdrawal of exemptions granted.

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