By Law Teacher
Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) entails discrimination and makes sure that work places are free from any kind of unlawful harassment and hence assists EEO groups to overcome any mishap or past or present disadvantage. In such an workplace all employees are valued and respected regardless of any caste,creed,color,race or an affiliation with any group or any physical disability.
EEO anti-discrimination protections apply to all of the terms and conditions of employment, including, but not limited to recruitment and selection, promotions, testing, training and development opportunities, hiring, transfers, work assignments, discipline, compensation, discharge, performance evaluation, working environment and other conditions of service. Affirmative action (AA) is an effort to
Remove the unfair practices of the past in the organizations. AA is a means to make equal grounds for females, individuals with disabilities, underprivileged classes and minorities as a logical step towards equal employment.
According to Pakistan`s law it is however mandatory to follow the (EEO) principals. Affirmative Action, however, is expected to be implemented as a voluntary component of EEO Policy. EEO does not, in any circumstance, mean that the managers should hire unqualified candidates in breach of merit. This is only a mechanism to avoid unfair practices and biases during employment process.
EEO Model For Pakistan:
There is no real effort on the national scale to introduce equal employment practices. Government and corporate sector do not have a model for EEO, and do not appreciate its rationale. A majority of employers in Pakistan take equal employment and affirmative action (AA) as a western idea not applicable to Pakistani society. Popular opinion is to think of EEO and AA as an additional expenditure that does not contribute to organizational productivity and competitiveness. With short-term monetary targets as the top most priority, a typical Pakistani employer fails to understand that EEO will contribute to cost effective decision-making and efficient management. In the absence of a viable model for EEO, equal employment for Pakistani organizations cannot be achieved.
It would be irrelevant to impose a western concept of EEO that does not targets or adjusts Pakistani culture and value system. An article shows that two factors are important for Pakistan`s EEO system.
Identification of specific characteristics of Pakistan`s society
Analysis of a survey about discrimination in Pakistan`s society
ACCORDING TO THE PAKISTAN`S LAW
Pakistan constitution puts a ban on discrimination on the basis of sex in appointment in “the service in Pakistan”, provided that the performance and functions of the job can be carried out by, and is deemed suitable for, both sexes (Art. 27). It also provides that “steps shall be taken to ensure full participation of women in all spheres of national life” (Art. 34). The constitution commits the State to secure the well-being of the people, irrespective of, inter-alia, their sex by (Art. 38 (a)) raising their standard of living, by preventing the concentration of wealth and means of production and
distribution in the hands of a few for general interest and by ensuring equitable adjustment of rights between employers and employees, and landlords and tenants. Pakistan is a signatory of the following international instruments:
The federal government announced its Labour Welfare Package for Workers making it mandatory for the organizations to offer gender equality and affirmative action. In summary, it warrants:
*Equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value through appropriate legislation.
*Enhancement of maternity benefits for female mine workers.
*Safeguards against sexual harassment through appropriate actions.
*Recruitment of female labour inspectors for enforcement of labor laws on female workers.
*Increase in percentage of reserved seats of workers and peasants at Union Councils, Tehsil Councils and District Councils in the Devolution of Power Plan.
*Extension of coverage of laws to agriculture and other informal sectors of economy.
The Federal Government introduced new labour policy in 2002 empowering labour courts to order re-instatement of illegally dismissed workers or award reasonable compensation in lieu of re-instatement. This policy also calls for extension and up gradation of vocational and industrial training programs to meet the changes of globalization and avoidance of redundancies. If implemented in true spirit, this is expected to be a right step towards affirmative action and equal employment opportunity. A significant characteristic of new labour policy is strengthening bilateralism with least legislative and state intervention. This is expected to result in good employer-employee relationship through the strategy of interdependence by employers and employees and their mutual trust. New laws also promise protection of contractual labour by redefining temporary jobs in accordance with international standards. The policy pledges equal opportunities for all and categorically bans child and bonded labour, and discrimination on the basis of gender, sex, race etc.
There are other recent steps taken by the Pakistan Government that have improved the recruitment environment in Pakistan, like: National Policy and Plan of Action for Elimination of Child Labour (2000); National Policy and Plan of Action for the Abolition of Bonded Labour (2001); and endorsement of ILO Conventions 100 and 182. Federal and provincial governments have also made legislations about the provision of 2% quota for special (disabled) people in the employment in all departments. This was enacted by the Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) ORDINANCE (1981).
LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK REGARDING EEO IN PAKISTAN
The main law governing OHS is the Factories Act 1934 Chapter 3. The Hazardous Occupation Rules of 1978 regulate certain occupations as hazardous, and contain special provisions to regulate the working conditions in those occupations. Each province has also enacted its own Rules within the mandate of the Factories Act.
In addition there are other laws dealing with OHS:
- The Mines Act 1923
- Social Security Ordinance 1965
- Workmen’s Compensation Act 1923
- Shop and Establishment Ordinance 1969
- Dock Labourer Act 1934
The health and safety measures prescribed in most of the above laws have not kept pace with the rapidly changing times. Many of the sectors with grave OHS hazards (and most workers anyway) are not covered by these laws. They contain very few technical standards. Furthermore the occupational exposure limits (OELs) now common all over the world are still missing from Pakistan’s laws. These laws must be thoroughly revised and updated.
Although there are many laws regarding the health and safety in Pakistan but the main problem has been implementation of these laws . proper implementation of these laws still lack in almost all the organisations of Pakistan which makes these frameworks rather useless .
WORK PLACE VIOLENCE IN PAKISTAN
ISLAMABAD, August 24, 2009 (Baluchistan Times): The prompt and effective legislation over the Protection against Harassment at the Workplace Bill 2009 would ensure a better environment to women at their specific workplace. The legal experts and rights activists of the Capital were of the view that prior to it, there were no specific laws dealing with workplace harassment. They said before the launching of the Bill, women had no legal source to justice against their colleagues, supervisors or employers who while taking advantage of their weaker partners for their ineterst. It is generally observed that women all over the world, and in our own country are subjected to varying degrees of discrimination, exploitation and violence. Harassment at workplace is a very serious issue as it has been related to the right of women to live with honour. To protect women against harassment at workplace, the government had taken special measures by starting formulation of the bill which had been laid in the House on April 10, 2009. Mrs Sanam Advocate, a well known face in city courts, commented that there was need for an exclusive act to handle the growing issue after the ratio of working women had kept on increasing. She said, Its implementation will take time because women are shy of raising their voices against unwanted things. She also stressed for creating more awareness about female rights besides, swift legislation over the issue. Shaheena Iqbal Advocate also shared the same view and said that women at their workplace required better environment without compromising over their dignity. Misbah Kanwal, a social and rights activist of a non-governmental organization, replied that females were generally deprived of their rights and an effective legal mechanism leading to punishment was expected with the upcoming Act. Kowkab Iqbal advocate, Chairman Pakistan Human Rights Society, opined that various provisions of Constitution of Pakistan guaranteed protection to women rights. He said, quick legislation and sound litigation would yield desired results. Minister for Social Welfare and Special Education, Samina Khalid Ghurki had also commented that the Harassment Bill would support women at federal, provincial and district levels covering maximum ground to address the issue comprehensively. According to available details, the code of conduct and procedure had also been included in the bill which includes guidelines for behaviour of the employess, management included which would ensure that there is no harassment at the work place. On June 27, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Women Development had reviewed the report and recommendations of the sub-committee on the bill and referred it back for further discussion with the concerned ministers to remove gaps and contradictions. In another development, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Law and Justice had amended a bill over Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) Section 509 to effectively tackle and discourage all kinds of unwanted advances at work places. It had discussed the section 509 PPC and added the new clause 509-A., which said Whoever makes sexual advances or demands sexual favour or uses written or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature which intends to annoy, intimidate or threaten the other person or commits such acts at the premises of work place, or makes submission to such conduct shall be punished for three years .
Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects workers over age 40 from discrimination based on their age. The ADEA is administered by the Department of Labour’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and applies to companies with at least 20 employees and covers both private and public employers.
The ADEA also protects employees from retaliation for asserting a claim of age discrimination or participating in a discrimination action or investigation. However, the ADEA applies only to employers with at least 20 employees. If the ADEA applies to your employer, age discrimination is also prohibited in any apprentice programs unless the employer has a waiver from the EEOC. The EEOC waiver is called a bona-fide occupational qualification or BFOQ. That having been said, it is not specifically illegal for an employer to ask for a job applicant’s date of birth.
AGE DISCRIMINATION ACT 2004 – SECT 4
The following is a simplified outline of this act :
- This Act makes it unlawful to discriminate on the ground of age.
- This Act has effect subject to certain geographical and constitutional limitations
- Discrimination on the ground of age can be direct or indirect .
- It is unlawful to discriminate on the ground of age in relation to work and certain other areas It is not unlawful to discriminate on the ground of age if a particular exemption is applicable (see Divisions 4 and 5 of Part 4).
- It is an offence to do certain things related to age discrimination.
- Complaints can be made to the Commission about unlawful discrimination.
- Functions are given to the Commission .
- Provision is made for miscellaneous matters such as delegation, protection from civil actions etc
Sexual harassment law in Pakistan :
The first step has been taken ‘towards changing the lives of women at the workplace,’ to quote Sherry rehman, the PPP MNA, former minister for women’s development and architect of the newly enacted law under discussion. This is in the form of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill that was passed by the National Assembly on Wednesday after having been in the works for months. Meticulously drafted, the document enhances the punishment already prescribed under the law for sexual harassment and facilitates effective prosecution by defining ‘harassment’ unequivocally.
These amendments to the PPC and CCP are designed to address the age-old issue women have faced in patriarchal societies — intimidation in public places — that inhibits them from stepping out of their homes. The political will displayed by the present government to improve the status of women is encouraging. Towards the same end, a bill on domestic violence was adopted by the assembly three months ago. Harassment can be tricky to prove legally, especially in an environment that is not too friendly towards women and where men have not been sensitised to issues concerning the dignity of women. Small wonder the existing provisions of the PPC could never be invoked because they were toothless. The effectiveness of the new laws will only be tested when a case is brought before a court of law.
While we welcome the new legislation , to be followed by another bill focusing on sexual harassment in the workplace . we should also point out that there ‘is a long way yet to go,’ as Ms Rehman cautioned. As the moving spirit behind this law, she understands well the long struggle women in Pakistan have had to wage to win empowerment. The main obstacle they have faced is the entrenched social prejudice that relegates women to a subordinate status in public and family life. In the absence of general awareness of women’s rights and the ingrained perception of male superiority, legislation enacted to protect women has not found practical implementation. Very often women themselves are so conditioned that they fail to put up the fight needed to win their rights.
Under the new law, the onus of taking action will rest on women. Will they take the initiative, especially when fears are already being expressed by some men that the law will be misused to ‘settle old scores’? Hence the need of the hour is to educate and conscientise women about their rights so that real and meaningful change is brought to their lives. This calls for a holistic approach with a campaign on several fronts to change existing mindsets.
Thus major challenge of equal employment opportunity is not legislation but implementation which requires a proper monitoring from the unions and the governments itself.Government as well as organizations must initiate an EEO program starting with the education of the policy makers, and the employees in general so that they can understand the rationale of this program and wholeheartedly support it. This will start with informatory session(s) for the employees about the objective and rationale of the EEO program. They can also be apprised about the results of an initial EEO assessment of the organisation. Not only initiating but firms and government will have to take the responsibility to implement it and monitor it on regular basis to provide proper rights to the employees and ensure equal opportunities .