Published On : Fri, Jul 29th, 2016

Ascent Business Solutions, Team Myriads, MSolutions put women staff’s safety at risk!

Make night shift employees stay back for extra hours instead of providing pick and drop

KPOs, BPOs and Call Centers Womens
As Nagpur has become a breeding ground for growing BPO sector, the concerns of safety of young girls employed at various call centres in city is bound to arise! And a little insight into many such call centres employing women, especially in night shifts, tells the sorry tale of how the safety is vehemently being ignored.

There have been instances where female employees of BPOs, KPOs and Call Centres have become targets of various kinds of crime including theft, assault, molesting and even rape. Often it has been noticed that some people with criminal antecedents and anti-social elements look for soft targets, particularly during the odd hours and the women employees who travel during late night hours are vulnerable to crime. Keeping this in mind, the Supreme Court had suggested to all these employers to ensure safety and security of their female employees. The directives make it mandatory for BPOs, Corporates, Call-Centres to drop their women employees at their homes during night hours and also confirm their safe arrival.

Safety at risk
Nagpur Today ventured out to various such establishments including Ascent Business Solutions, Team Myriads IT Private Limited and MSolutions etc to ascertain if they provide the simple pick-up and drop facility.

There are many smaller BPOs and Call Centres spread across the city who employ lesser number of employees also do not provide the pick-up and drop facilities to its female employees. While speaking to Nagpur Today, Senior HR Manager Ashton Lawrie of Ascent Business Solutions said that as a company policy, they do not provide the pick-up and drop facility to the female employees who work in the night duty. He claimed that he is not aware of any Supreme Court directives, which makes it mandatory for the companies to provide pick-up and drop facilities to its female employees working in night duty. He claimed that once their duty ends in the night, the female employees have been asked to sit inside the building itself and only after 5:30 or 6 am are they allowed to go home. He claimed that the Security Personnel have instructions not to allow any female employees to go out till their parents come to collect them in the night.

Process prolonged!
The HR Manager of M-Module Company while speaking to Nagpur Today said that at the moment, they do not have the facility of pick-up and drop facility but are in the process of making suitable arrangements for the same. If they so desire they can go home on their own till then. Is this company waiting for some untoward incident to occur before they make the arrangements?

No law to check violation
While speaking to Nagpur Today, Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ranjan Sharma said that there is a Supreme Court directive which makes it mandatory for the companies to provide pick and drop facilities to their female employees, but there is no law as such, meaning these companies had no legal obligation to provide these safety measures.

Ignoring guidelines
While speaking to Nagpur Today, High Court Advocate Wilson Mathews said that not only the Supreme Court but also the Women’s Commission felt that these companies which employ female employees in the night should provide a simple facility of pick-up and drop. pick-up and drop.

“How Effective”, The State Women’s Commission of Maharashtra
When Nagpur Today tried to bring the matter to the notice of Chairperson of Women’s commission, Maharashtra, Ms. Rewatkar, she was first not available on her cell phone. Her male Personal Assistant took the call and asked us to narrate the problem to him. When we specified that we wished to speak with the Chairman, he said he would pass the message to her.

Later we tried to call all the members of the commission. The first member, Neeta Thakre, who we later learnt hails from Nagpur and is in charge of this area, did not take the calls. Similar was the fate with other members. Finally Vinda Kiritkar, the only member who responded, spoke to us. But in her opinion “it was best that the Chairperson spoke on this matter. “ When pressed for a comment on the situation she said Nagpur “did not fall under her area. We should talk to Thakre only.”

About 20 minutes later, Rewatkar called back. But her response was equally unhelpful. In her opinion “it was wrong that women employees were detained for so long after their work was over.” But if any action is to be taken the affected women, or Nagpur Today, should physically go to her office in MHADA, Mumbai and make a complaint.

“Just like that, I cannot say what the rules in this regard are” she concluded.

Legal provisions:
In this matter there is a clear directive from our highest court which states categorically:
Prohibition of employment of women and young persons during night: No woman, or a young person, shall be required or allowed to work whether as an employee or otherwise in any establishment during nights.

Provided that the State Government may, by notification exempt any establishment of Information Technology or Information Technology enabled service from the provisions of this section relating to, employment of women during night subject to the condition that the establishment provides facilities of transportation and security to such women employees and subject to any other condition as may be specified in the notification. It may be noted from the above provision that while the main part of Section 25 is prohibition of employment of women and young persons in a shop or commercial establishment during night, the proviso enables the State Government to exempt any establishment of Information Technology from the provisions of the section subject to the condition that the establishment provides facility for transportation and security to the woman employees.

The Delhi Police Department issued an order in which it defines night hours from 8 pm to 7 am and makes it compulsory for the employers to ensure that a security guard accompanies the woman employee to her residence and ensure her safe arrival if the office vehicle cannot drop her right outside her house.

The order was first issued on December eight in the wake of the rape of a BPO employee from Mizoram. The order suggests installation of GPS systems in the cabs used in the transportation of employees, especially of women employees. The order was issued under Section 144 of CrPC and the employers violating the order are liable to be punished under Section 188 (disobedience of an official order) of IPC which entails an imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of Rs 1,000 or both. The directive also directs the companies to hire the security personnel and other contractual personnel as far as possible from licensed agencies only. Ensure verification of antecedents of all their employees including contractual employees.
So it is obvious that there is clear contravention of Court’s directives by Nagpur Companies concerned.

By Samuel Gunasekharan and Sunita Mudaliar