'Annual reports must detail steps to prevent sexual harassment'

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New Delhi : All government and private companies will have to furnish in their annual reports the details of steps taken to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace as per the law.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs vide its July 31 notification has amended the Companies (Accounts) Rules, 2014 and inserted a clause which says that firms will have to include a "statement that the company has complied with provisions relating to the constitution of Internal Complaints Committee under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013".

This is being done to ensure safer workplaces for women in both the public ans well as the private sectors. The clause was introduced following a request by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Praising the step, Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said it was a major move towards making the workplace safe for women.

"I have set up the guidance and training material on the WCD site. I would request both compliance officers and women in the work place to access the material.

"I will be requesting SEBI to suitably incorporate this disclosure in the corporate governance reports of the listed companies," she said.

Section-134 of the Companies Act, 2013 provides the disclosure framework which the directors of every company are required to comply with in the annual reports.

The section also includes the penal provisions for non-disclosure. The inclusion of the compliance under the act in the non-financial disclosures will ensure that the issue comes under the focus of the Board of Directors of the companies.

The minister said her ministry has been making continuous efforts to mainstream the implementation of the act.

"It was ensured that all the ministries and departments under the central government as well as the organisations working directly under them constitute the Internal Complaints Committee as mandated under the act."