First, a new labor code for trans personnel
Chennai: If you have separate bathrooms and dining rooms for male and female employees in your factory, campus or corporate office, be prepared to also offer similar facilities for transgender employees.
The new code for occupational safety, health and working conditions (OSHWC), currently pending approval in the Lok Sabha, has included special provisions for transgender employees for the first time. Once approved, it will force employers to offer transgender employees the same separate facilities currently offered for male and female employees in an attempt to include them in the organized workforce.
“The code requires exclusive facilities for transgender employees. In other words, any facility that offers men and women must also be offered separately to transgender employees. The code does not list specific amenities. But there is already a provision in the law that must have bathrooms, canteens, drinking water for men and women, so these would be included in the trans comforts we use once the code is passed in Parliament, ”said K Varadan, director of consultations of the human resources company Aparajitha Corporate Services. Varadan spoke on the sidelines of the HR summit organized by the IIC in Puducherry on Friday, where the provisions of the new labor code were discussed. The idea is to bring the transgender community to the workforce. At this time, employers offer separate facilities for men and women, but now transgender people will have the same rights, ”he said. Human resources experts say that some in corporate India are already taking small steps to include transgender employees.
“Tata Steel has started an employee resource group for transgender employees and also offers financial support for gender affirmation procedures. It is also building single and neutral cubicle baths. The company hired these personnel through its job training program, said Sudeep Sen, head of manufacturing and engineering business for human resources firm TeamLease Services. Then there is Kochi Rail Metro, which in 2018 ventured into hiring trans people, “with almost 23 trans people in cleaning and ticket sales. There are examples of trans inclusiveness in electronic commerce and services as well, said the senator. The good news is that many new companies such as Nestaway, Ubereats, Bro4U and PeriFerry have hired transgender people who open up new job opportunities for this community, he added. Trans activists, however, say the new policies would push the community more towards the margins instead of including them in the mainstream. “I appreciate the initiative, but the separate facilities also mean exclusion. I would have welcomed the unisex bathrooms, ”said artist and trans-activist Kalki Subramaniam, a resident of Puducherry. The toilets are a great debate for the community worldwide and activists like Subramaniam feel that trans men and women should be free to identify with the gender they think they belong to. Trans-activists also feel that inclusion efforts are more symbolic than anything else. We do not want corporate India to generate gender in the human resources narrative. My gender should not be the reason for getting a job, my merit should be the only criteria, ”said Apsara Reddy, a politician, journalist and trans activist based in Chennai.
The community also faces problems in legal documentation, including filing taxes, where men and women are the only options available on the forms. Although there is a provision in the Aadhaar cards for the third genre, but there is no such provision with EPFO and PAN, the senator said. Some government agencies are strict with the binary, Subramaniam said. That has to change.