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Church Releases 30-Page Guidelines on Sexual Harassment at Workplace
Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 15:24 (IST)
A church body in India has released a set of guidelines to prevent sexual immoral acts at the workplace, including a code of conduct to be signed by employees in all its institutions.
The guidelines, released this week by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), are to be put into practice in every "department, organization, undertaking, establishment, institution, office branch or unit which is established, owned or controlled, wholly or partially financed by funds provided by the Catholic Church".
The guidelines, titled "CBCI Guidelines to Deal with Sexual Harassment at Workplace", were published in a 30-page document.
The document instructed firms to create a "harmonious working environment free of intimidation, hostility, offence and any form of harassment and abuse of authority", and "communicate the zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment at workplace."
"Ensure only eligible, well reputed and morally upright persons are recruited and appointed as the staff of the institutions and they should be trained, supervised and supported at their work place which should promote genuine and mature human behavior," it said.
The Indian Catholic Church has 171 dioceses across the country. Every Catholic firm with more than 10 employees is mandated to adhere to the new measures.
"There are hundreds of congregations, social service centres and groups as well as thousands of firms run by individuals. This would be applicable to all," said Bishop Jacob Mar Barnabas of Gurgaon.
"The government has enacted a law, The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act. All citizens are bound by this law, and the Church takes this responsibility seriously. It is trying to implement it in all its institutions. The Church has to be in the forefront executing this, as sexual harassment violates the sacredness of the human person and is against the ethos of the Bible," said Barnabas.
According to the guidelines, an internal complaint committee must be set up for firms with more than 10 employees. The committee will include a senior woman as a chairperson, at least two members from among the employees and one from an NGO or bodies familiar with issues relating to sexual harassment.
"In case of a man as a victim, a man should be appointed as the chairperson," the document states. In case of transgenders, a woman shall be the chairperson if a member of the third gender is not available, read the document.
The committee must seek to resolve the issues in an "informal and amicable manner whenever possible," it added.
If the respondent resigns in the middle of an investigation, the committee will "notify the respondent and make sure to enter a note in the service record of the individual in question, disclosing that the person resigned while under investigation for allegation of sexual harassment at work place," it read.