NEW DELHI: Women central government employees who have filed complaints of sexual harassment can now get a paid leave of three months during the pendency of inquiry, the government has said. The leave will be in addition to those already given to central government employees. The move assumes significance as there have been complaints of accused trying to influence or threaten victims of sexual harassment in a few cases. Leave up to a maximum of 90 days may be granted to an aggrieved female government servant during the pendency of inquiry, an order issued by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said.
“The leave so granted to the aggrieved woman under this rule shall not be debited against the leave account,” it said. This provision has been framed under the ‘Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013–a legislation mandated to provide protection to women against sexual harassment at work place. Though the Act has the provision for grant of leave to the aggrieved woman up to a period of three months, the Union government had not yet incorporated it in the service rules that govern leave of its employees.The DoPT has now incorporated this provision in the Central Civil Services (leave) Rules, 1972. “It will come as a relief to the victims who undergo a lot of trauma while working in the office that too in the presence of the accused,” a senior DoPT official said.
Sexual harassment includes physical contact and advances, demand or request for sexual favours, sexually coloured remarks, showing any pornography and any other unwelcome physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature. Besides, implied or explicit promise of preferential or detrimental treatment in employment; implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status; interference with her work, creating an intimidating, offensive or hostile work environment for her; and humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety may also amount to sexual harassment.