By: Myra Imran
Islamabd: The victims of harassment at workplace can now lodge their complaints online at the website (http://www.fos-pah.gov.pk/), which was launched on Wednesday by the Federal Ombudsman Secretariat (FOS) for Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation.
Soon to be launched in Urdu as well, the official website and Complaint Management Information System (CMIS) provides the facility of four easy steps to lodge complaint against harassment at workplace. The petitioner will be able to track her or his complaint via SMS. The complainant will also be provided with a pin number through which he or she will be able to access details regarding any development in their case.
Speaking in this occasion, Federal Ombudsman against Harassment Justice (r) Yasmin Abbasey said that the online system will save complainants from repeated visits to the Ombudsperson’s office.
“Though they will have to appear before the FOS for case hearings, the online mechanism will prove to be great facility complainants making it easy for them to access FOS for justice,” she said.
Yasmin said that Provincial Ombudsman Secretariats have started functioning in all provinces and it is in the process in Gilgit-Baltistan. She termed lack of awareness on the issue and the protection provided by the law as the biggest hurdle in the implementation of Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010.
She said a large number of public and private organizations are not implementing the code of conduct and compliance mechanism as required in the Act. “Employees need to make a complaint against such organisations so that legal action can be initiated against such originations that is a fine of Rs100,000,” she pointed out. The Ombudsman further said that the Act put obligation to the management of the organisations both the public and private sectors to display the copies of Code of Conduct in English as well as in the language understood by most of the employees at conspicuous places in the organisations.
She added that if the environment of the offices was not conducive and enabling, it would affect the performance of the workers and consequently affect adversely the growth of the development of the institutions. “We should think how the harassment could be eliminated from the institutions to foster a culture of respect, raise the comfort level of all working persons and ensure healthy environment.”
Communication Officer FOS Shahrukh Abbasey gave the presentation about the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Ac, and functioning of the Federal Ombudsman Secretariat. He said that so far, FOS has registered 157 cases of harassment. “Among them, 151 cases are disposed and 6 are in the hearing. In addition, 3 cases are pending before the President.” If not satisfied with the decision of FOS, the complainant can take their case directly to the President. At this stage, he said FOS is facing the challenge of the lack of building and IT infrastructure and financial resources.
Chief guest of the ceremony Regional Director, ILO, Asia Pasific Region Yoshiteru Uramato termed the online system a very innovative and practical idea. “This is an excellent example of gender responsive public service delivery and developing institutional mechanisms rather than just one-off interventions. I look forward to seeing this system becoming stringer and better over the years and contributing to safe and decent working environment.”
In his welcome note, Country Director ILO Fransesco d’Ovidio referred to the overarching convention that is The Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention 1958 (No 111) that requires that ILO states declare and peruse a national policy to promote equality of opportunity and treatment with a view of eliminating discrimination.
At the end, Federal Ombudsman Yasmin Abbasey presented shields to the Country Director, ILO, Country Director ILO and Federal Tax Ombudsman. ILO handed over the Computer System to Software of the Complaint Management System to the FOS.