What Can You Do If You Experience Workplace Violence In India? 

What can you do if you experience workplace violence? Here are some Indian official avenues you can approach to learn more about reporting workplace harassment.

The lack of information and support can make it difficult to report workplace violence. Here are some official avenues you can approach to learn more about reporting workplace harassment.

Workplace harassment continues to be a problem even today. Did you know nearly 583 million employees faced mental harassment at work, and over 200 million employees were subjected to sexual and physical violence globally in a single year?

The International Labor Organization (ILO) collated data on workplace violence to launch a report titled, ‘Experiences of violence and harassment at work: A global first survey.’ According to the study, 743 million employees faced workplace violence in 2021 alone.

Often invisible on a larger scale, these practices thrive in silence because it is not always easy to talk about the violation of personal boundaries in professional settings.

If unrestricted in form and frequency, they affect employees’ performance and mental health irrespective of job profile, the field of work, and employment status. The ILO report revealed, “Only a little more than half (54.4 percent) of victims have shared their experience with someone.”

If you are an Indian employee who is facing workplace violence, here’s what you can do to address the issue:

Read through your corporate policies

Despite having a designated Human Resources department, your organization will also have set corporate policies. The policies, often aligned with procedures, can help you define the type of harassment you have faced at work and what action you can take to address the violation.

Moreover, the policies provide insight into the actions managers and employers must take once you file your complaint. You will easily find policies against sexual harassment in the workplace, you must also apply them when you face physical violence, discrimination, and mental harassment at work.

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You can think of these policies as a source to double-check the procedures your organization is following to help you.

Discuss the matter in a safe space

Upon experiencing workplace violence, discuss the matter in a designated safe space such as the Human Resources department or with an Employee Grievance Redressal officer.

They can:

  • Guide you to file a complaint against the perpetrator based on the type of harassment
  • Convey the grievance while maintaining the confidentiality and safekeeping of your identity
  • Help you recreate your safe space in the office
  • Advise you on the next steps or the further course of action against the perpetrator

If you are a public sector employee, you can lodge an official complaint with the Department of Administrative Reforms And Public Grievances through online and offline sources.

However, if you want to avoid raising the issue directly with the department, contact a colleague or manager who can help you take the matter forward.

You can lodge an official complaint with the police

The ILO report revealed that the lack of trust in institutions such as the police made it difficult for employees to extend their complaints to third parties. Only 16% of the total respondents in the study had taken this step.

Nevertheless, the Indian government has certain Acts that help you report workplace violations.

Women constitute a higher percentage of individuals subjected to sexual violence at work, we require similar Acts for employees of all genders.

  • Indian Penal Code: While the Indian Penal Code does not have specific acts on preventing mental harassment and physical violence at work, sections on defamation (Section 499), intentional use of abusive language (Section 504), and provisions on violent assault can help you.
  • Pregnant women and people with disabilities can also lodge complaints with the police against their employers if they are denied certain rights or workplace benefits solely because of their current state of limited abilities.

Speaking up for the right thing takes courage!

It takes courage to bring workplace violence to light. However, there are two things you must remember.

    • First, as a survivor, the harassment is not your fault.
    • Second, speaking against the infringement of your boundaries is your right, even if the perpetrator is your colleague, subordinate, senior, or employer.

Approaching grievance redressal mechanisms within or outside your organization can help you take action against the perpetrator.

Image source: Freedomz, free and edited Canva Pro

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About the Author

Rhea Sakhardande

I am a researcher working toward understanding the complex fabric of society. I have a Master's degree in Sociology and am currently exploring Diversity and Inclusion in corporate spaces. read more...

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