Last year, the French Court held the country’s leading phone and internet provider Orange guilty of ‘moral harassment’ that resulted in several employees ending their lives over a long period. Orange was fined €75,000, while the company’s former chief executive was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment with a penalty of €15,000.
The landmark ruling set a strong precedent in the country against moral harassment and sent a strict message to all the ‘bad bosses’ across the territorial boundaries of France. While India is a country of millennials, managing partner of the law firm OP Khaitan & Co, Gautam Khaitan, suggested a strong statute that protects our corporate employees against institutional harassment.
India has been facing a brunt of the pandemic on two faces — economy and health. While public health facilities have been saturated, the Indian economy is witnessing an unprecedented slowdown. The direct impact of the downing economy is being faced by the Indian corporates. Consequently, lakhs of people have lost their jobs, while millions have been receiving only a chunk of their salaries.
As India is a young country and a great proportion of the youth are largely engaged in the private sector, making their jobs more secure and their workplace harassment-free should be the utmost priority of the authorities, suggests Khaitan. “Every day we hear stories of organised harassments at the workplace that our Indian youth face on a daily basis. Bad corporate governance led by incompetent bosses is an important reason behind organised bullying,” says Khaitan.
When employees at a workplace are harassed by the management in an institutionalised manner, it is called organised harassment. Such an unhealthy environment can cause stress, anxiety and depression to the employees, and can also lead to them taking lives. “In the case of Orange, the firm could not fire the employees directly because of strict labour laws. So the firm decided to create a suffocating environment so that the employees resign by themselves. It ended up in leaving several employees committing suicide,” says Khaitan.
“Labour laws exist all over the country, but there aren’t many relevant laws that safeguard the rights of the employees at the workplace, specifically those working in the corporate sector. Some laws are almost as old as a century, while many are over a decade old, these need urgent updation,” says Khaitan.
“Organised harassment at the workplace is a serious issue. Such kind of bullying does not lie under office policies and there aren’t any statutes that protect the employees in such scenarios,” says Khaitan.
Today, there are several corporates that are revamping their office environment to make it free of harassment. Today, when a majority of Indians are young and the future belongs to them, we cannot leave it to the companies to prevent the creation of a negative culture. There’s an urgent need for a comprehensive nationwide legislation that would make the Indian youth more secure at work, rendering it free from harassment and discrimination. Not only will this help the corporates and the economy grow rapidly, it will also make India a happier place.