In protection of women…

9 March 2015

In the spirit of celebrating International Women’s Day (8 March 2015), here is a short note on the efforts of the authorities to ensure “fair representation” and “protection” of women in the workforce:

TL;DR:

1. At least 33% of the workforce should be women.

2. Female workers should be included in trade unions in proportion to their numerical strength in the organization.

3. Employer’s representation councils should include women in proportion to their numerical strength in the organization.

4. Governing body of the Employees Social Security Institution should include a woman.

5. Minimum Wages Board should include a woman.

6. National Committee on the Rights of the Child should consist of 4 women among the 10 experts employed.

7. All provisions of the law in respect of the protection of harassment of women at the workplace should be employed, implemented and extended to women.

8. Where 25 or more women are employed, the employer(s) shall reserve a suitable daycare room for children under 6 years of the women employed, maintained in accordance with such standards as may be notified.

Detailed Note: The Government of Punjab passed the Punjab Fair Representation of Women Act, 2014 (the “FRWA”) in respect of fair representation of women in the workforce, applicable to the various sectors and companies functioning in the Province.

The discussion, herein, is limited to the applicability of the FRWA to private limited companies.

The Schedule to the FRWA provides a list (the “List”) of sixty six (66) acts and ordinances that are amended by the FRWA to ensure fair representation of women in decision-making bodies and their empowerment at the workplace. The requirement of ensuring that the workforce consists of at least thirty three percent (33%) women, as stated in the Punjab Women Empowerment Package, 2012*, is provided in the following statutes.

None of the following laws are applicable to companies:

(a) The Town Improvement Act, 1922;

(b) The Punjab Government Servants Benevolent Fund Ordinance, 1960;

(c) The Punjab Health Foundation Act, 1992;

(d) The Punjab Information Technology Board Ordinance, 1999;

(e) The Punjab Medical and Health Institutions Act, 2003;

(f) The Punjab Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority Act, 2010; and

(g) The Punjab Holy Quran (Printing and Recording) Act, 2011.

The laws applicable to companies are:

(1) Punjab Industrial Relations Act, 2010

(a) The Punjab Industrial Relations Act, 2010 (the “PIRA”), included in the List, applies to all persons employed in any establishment.

PIRA defines “establishment” to include a company employing workers in Punjab:

(ix) “establishment” means any office, firm, factory, society, undertaking, company, shop, premises or enterprise in the Punjab, which employs workmen directly or through a contractor for the purpose of carrying on any business or industry and includes all its departments and branches, whether situated in the same place or in different places having a common balance sheet and except in section 25 includes a collective bargaining unit, if any, constituted in any establishment or group of establishments; (emphasis added)

“Workman” is defined as follows:

(xxxi) “worker” and “workman” mean a person not falling within the definition of employer who is employed (including employment as a supervisor or as an apprentice) in an establishment or industry for hire or reward either directly or through a contractor whether the terms of employment be express or implied… (emphasis added)

The provisions of PIRA would, thus, be applicable to a company.

(b) The amended Section 6(2) of the PIRA provides:

(2) Without prejudice to the provisions of sub-section (1), a trade union of workmen shall not be entitled to registration under the Act– …. (c) if women are employed as workers in the establishment, group of establishments or industry with which the trade union is connected, unless it has included the female workers in the executive body, not being less than the proportion of their numerical strength in the work force of the establishment, group of establishments or industry. (emphasis added)

Section 6(2) provides that a trade union of workmen shall not be entitled to registration under the PIRA, unless the trade union has included female works in the executive body (management) in proportion to their numerical strength in the work force of the establishment (Section 6(2)(c)).

(c) The amended sub-section (2) to Section 29 (Workers Management Council) provides as follows:

(2)   The employer’s representative in the council shall be from amongst the directors or their nominees or senior executives and the workers’ representatives shall be workmen employed in the same establishment and shall– (a) where there is a collective bargaining agent in the establishment, be nominated by it, or (b) where there is no collective bargaining agent in the establishment, be elected by simple majority at a secret ballot by all workmen employed in the establishment; and (c)   if women are employed as workers in the establishment, be women not less than the proportion of their numerical strength in the work force of the establishment. (emphasis added)

Section 29(2)(c) thus provides that the employer’s representative in the council shall be from amongst the directors/ their nominees/ senior executives and the workers’ representatives shall be workmen employed in the same establishment provided that if women are employed as workers then the proportion of their representation shall be in proportion to their numerical strength in the work force.

(2) The Provincial Employees’ Social Security Ordinance, 1965

The Provincial Employees’ Social Security Ordinance, 1965 is amended to the extent that sub-section (1) of Section 5 (Governing Body) includes that at least one (1) woman should be included in the three (3) persons to represent the employers (Section 5(1)(c)) and secured persons (Section 5(1)(d)) in the governing body of the Employed Social Security Institution.

(3) The Minimum Wages Ordinance, 1961

The Minimum Wages Ordinance, 1961 is amended, by virtue of sub-section (1) to Section 3 (Establishment of Minimum Wages Boards) to include that the three (3) persons to represent the employers (Section 3(1)(c)) and workers of the Province should include at least one (1) woman (Section 3(1)(d)) in the Minimum Wages Board of the Province.

(4) The Employment of Children Act, 1991

The Employment of Children Act, 1991 is amended to include “four (4) women” in the National Committee on the Rights of the Child that shall consist of the Chairman and ten (10) experts, in sub-section (2) of Section 5 (National Committee on the Rights of the Child).

(5) The Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2010 (the “PAHWWA”)

(a) The PAHWWA provides for the protection of women from harassment at the workplace. Section 2(n) defines workplace to be a place of work where an organization or employer operates.

(b) “Organization” is defined in Section 2(l) to include a company:

(1) “organization” means a Federal or Provincial Government Ministry, Division or department, a corporation or any autonomous or semi-autonomous body, Educational Institutes, Medical facilities established or controlled by the Federal or Provincial Government or District Government or registered civil society associations or privately managed a commercial or an industrial establishment or institution, a company as defined in the Companies Ordinance, 1984 (XLVII of 1984) and includes any other registered private sector organization or institution; (emphasis added)

(6) The Punjab Shops and Establishment (Amendment) Act, 2014

The Punjab Shops and Establishment (Amendment) Act, 2014 (the “Act”) amends the West Pakistan Shops and Establishments Ordinance, 1969 (the “Ordinance”) to the effect that daycare rooms for children should be added to any establishment or company where twenty five (25) or more women are employed:

10-A. Daycare rooms for children.— (1) Where twenty five or more women are employed in an establishment, the employer shall reserve a suitable daycare room for under six years old children of the women. (2) The daycare room shall be established, managed and conformed to such standards, as may be prescribed.

*The Punjab Women Empowerment Package, 2012 is a guide prepared by the Women Development Department, Government of Punjab to intimate the proposed amendments to various laws for the empowerment of women in the workforce. The Punjab Women Empowerment Package, 2012 does not have statutory force and is not a legal document.

_____________________

Myra Khan is a Barrister-at-Law from the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn and Vice Chairperson Women Rights Committee of the Lahore High Court Bar Association. She is currently practicing law in Lahore, Pakistan.

Any queries may be directed to lawyereadia@gmail.com

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