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25 February | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

Fauzia Viqar replaces Kashmala Tariq as Ombudsperson against workplace harassment

Protection against Harassment at Workplace law expands definition of workplaces that now considered as any place where an employee goes to work

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi administered oath of the office to Fauzia Viqar as Federal Ombudsperson for Protection against Harassment at Workplace.

The oath-taking ceremony held at the Aiwan-e-Sadr in Islamabad was attended by senior government officials. The president made the new appointment after the completion of the tenure of former Federal Ombudsman for Protection against Harassment at Workplace Kashmala Tariq.

The appointment has been made in accordance with Sections 3 and 21 of the Federal Ombudsman Institutional Reforms of 2013. On 14 January 2022, the parliament adopted the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Amendment) Act 2022.

The parliament amends the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010, expanding the definition of workplaces to include both formal and informal workplaces. The law will not only protect individuals against workplace harassment of a physical nature but will also cover other forms of harassment as well as gender discrimination at the workplace.

Indeed, it sets out an expanded definition of harassment that includes discrimination on the basis of gender, which may or may not be sexual in nature. Also, the law extends protections against harassment and violence to students, a category excluded by the previous law. It brings the definition closer to the one set out in the 2019 ILO Violence and Harassment Convention (C190), which Pakistan has not ratified.

Another notable change is the expansion of the definition of an employee that is no more only who signed a contract with an employer or organization but also domestic and informal workers that represent the 70% of the workforce in Pakistan. The new law includes gig workers, temporary, part-time, freelance employees, trainees, domestic workers, home-based workers, and apprentices.

The law widens the definition of the workplace, now considered as any place where an employee goes to work. Accordingly, the amended law will ensure protection of athletes at their workplaces, as well as artistes, performers, actors, and singers. The law aims to facilitate increased participation of women in the workforce by removing lacuna present in the previous law.

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