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INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2022 PAKISTAN

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On the auspicious occasion of International Women’s Day2022, Pakistan pays tribute to the women around the world whose resilience, sacrifices and efforts have made it possible for humankind to progress and build a better future for all. No society or nation can succeed and achieve sustainable development without realization of gender equality and women empowerment. Recovery from COVID-19 pandemic is only possible by creating inclusive political systems, workforce, economies and societies.

Pakistan is fully committed to the promotion and protection of women rights, both nationally and internationally. Foundations of Pakistan are laid on the contributions of men and women alike. Our Constitution and legal framework provide guarantees for equal participation by women in all spheres of life including, social, economic, and political. The Government will continue to fulfill its obligations under Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action as well as United Nations Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs), particularly Goal 5 and its related targets.

Through various policy measures and legislation, we continue to make utmost efforts for women empowerment and their equal participation for building an inclusive society. Pakistani women have contributed immensely to national development and progress. We are proud that todayPakistani women participate in every facet of public life. They have held prominent positions, including as Prime Minister, Governor of State Bank of Pakistan, Speaker of National Assembly, Judge of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice of High Court, and important portfolios in the Cabinet as well as Federal and Provincial Secretaries, Generals, fighter pilots and UN peacekeepers.

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We would like to pay special tribute to the remarkable Pakistani women in our diplomacy for their exemplary service, hard work and dedication in contributing to our foreign policy objectives and ably representing Pakistan across the world. As we commemorate this day, we also express our solidarity with the oppressed women in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

For over seven decades, they are enduring egregious human rights abuse by Indian occupation forces including sexual violence, rape and molestation – that have been extensively documented by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as by various UN Special Procedures Mandate Holders. The international community must hold India accountable for these serious crimes. On this day, we reaffirm our solemn commitment to continue promoting women empowerment and gender equality across the board.

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Law and Justice

Employee Rights and Labor Laws Every Employer Needs to Know

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There will always be horrible bosses. A lot of employees struggle with difficult and sometimes unreasonable employers. Fortunately, there are labor laws and guidelines that protect the rights of employees.

On the other hand, many newbie employers are so focused on getting their businesses off the ground they forget to handle the legal side of things. So, despite being well intentioned, decent employers can still violate labor laws due to ignorance.

That said, here’s a list of the most common labor law claims filed against terrible and ignorant employers alike.

5 labor laws that protect employees

1. Employers cannot discriminate against protected attributes

According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers cannot make any employment decision (such as hiring, rejection, firing, and demotion) based on an employee’s protected attributes. These include race, color, religion, national origin, and sex.

For example, an employer cannot fire an otherwise competent employee solely on the basis of being a woman. Of course, not every instance of firing a female employee can be considered sex discrimination. However, if proven that an employer fired a female employee after hearing she was pregnant, it will be a clear act of discrimination.

Additionally, firing an employee for discriminatory reasons counts as wrongful termination. If successful, former employees might be entitled to economic and non-economic damages.

More importantly, discrimination laws don’t just cover wrongful termination. They encompass all employment decisions, including tolerance or encouragement of harassment, handing out unfair demotions, and unjustified pay cuts. So, for example, if an employer encourages or tolerates harassment, that might also count as discrimination.

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Note that discrimination laws and exceptions can vary depending on the state or the size of your business. Make sure to consult with your lawyer to ensure you’re not violating any laws and employee rights.

2. Disabled employees can request reasonable accommodations

Disabled employees are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Other than it’s illegal to make employment decisions based on an employee’s disabled status, it is also an employer’s responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations when the employee needs them.

“Reasonable accommodations” are changes and modifications to a business’s employment system that would help an otherwise competent employee to do their job. These accommodations are dependent on what an employee needs and what an employer can afford.

For example, some employees just need to be given flexible hours, be allowed to take their work home, or be reassigned to a different department. However, some employees might require ergonomic chairs, special equipment, and wheelchair ramps. These are typically decided through discussions and negotiations between the employer and the disabled employee.

The keyword here is “reasonable,” which means that the accommodations shouldn’t be causing the employer undue burden. For example, if the requested accommodation causes significant financial and structural challenges, both parties will need to negotiate something else.

3. Pregnancy is considered a temporary disability

Pregnant employees can suffer from many physical problems, even before they reach the last trimester. Hence, the difficulties associated with pregnancy can be enough cause to request accommodations.

This means pregnant employees can request alternative work hours, reassignments, flexible work responsibilities, and other reasonable accommodations. Employers can provide these accommodations on top of the maternity leave employees will file towards the end of their term.

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Again, employees should discuss these accommodations with their employers. These discussions ensure that the employee gets the assistance they need while not causing undue problems to their employers.

4. Whistleblowers are protected

Whistleblower protections are there to protect employees and consumers. To encourage people to report illegal activities, employers are prohibited from taking any adverse action against whistleblowers.

For example, if an employee reports product health hazards to OSHA, it is illegal for their employer to get back at them by termination, pay cuts, suspensions, or demotions. Likewise, if an employee “blows the whistle” on company fraud and security breaches, they cannot be fired or retaliated against.

More importantly, employers cannot take action against employees even if the employee makes a mistake. The Whistleblower Protection Act was established so employees won’t hesitate to report possible illegal activities, and before they cause any real consequences. Additionally, employees who help the government catch illegal activity are heavily compensated for “blowing the whistle.”

Similarly, employees who participate in investigations (i.e., doing an interview or becoming a witness) cannot be retaliated against. It is within their right, and firing them is an act of wrongful termination.

5. Employment retaliation is illegal

As briefly explained in the last section, employers cannot get back at employees maliciously. Essentially, employers cannot make adverse employment actions in response to an employee exercising their rights.

For example, if an employee reports their boss for gender discrimination, the employer cannot fire them, demote them, or cut their salaries. Doing so is an act of retaliation.

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Here are other things that employees can do without getting punished or retaliated against:

  • Taking or requesting a sick leave, family leave, or a maternal leave
  • Taking time off work to serve as jury or to vote
  • Reporting an employer for OSHA violations, discrimination, harassment, or retaliation
  • Becoming a whistleblower
  • Giving witness testimonies against their employer
  • Refusing to break the law for the employer or company (i.e., refusing to make false statements to the IRS to save the company)

Some employment actions that might count as retaliation include:

  • Demoting an employee
  • Unjustified pay cuts
  • Refusing to promote an otherwise qualified and deserving employee
  • Deliberately assigning an employee to a site location that’s causing them undue hardship (i.e., assigning them to an area that’s unreasonably far from where they live)
  • Giving the target employee more work as underhanded punishment
  • Encouraging harassment and alienation of the employee at work

Are you a good boss?

You might not be a terrible boss, but there’s a lot of them out there. However, the law knows that some employers hand down “punishments” to employees who are otherwise in the right.

This doesn’t mean that employers can’t penalize employees for bad behavior. Employers are free to demote, cut pay, or suspend, as long as it doesn’t infringe on an employee’s rights or violate one of the labor laws we’ve covered here.

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Digital

WHATSAPP Privacy Concerns Affecting Public Data -MOIT&T Pakistan

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Reference to on-going news threads by National Media and social media platforms regarding change in privacy terms & conditions of WhatsApp, Ministry of IT & Telecom is monitoring the current developments and clarifications provided by Facebook Inc. in this regard.

It is brought to notice that subject changes in privacy are applicable on WhatsApp business account only, while regular non-business/ individual profiles/ accounts are not affected.   

MOIT&T would like to emphasize here to all such digital social media platforms including WhatsApp administration to adhere by privacy rights of citizens of Pakistan. In this regard, all such digital platforms need to strengthen their engagements with the Government of Pakistan so that concerns of General Public and businesses can be well addressed by all means.

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Law and Justice

National Judicial Policy Making Committee (NJPMC) holds Meeting

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A meeting of the National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee, (NJPMC), was held under the Chairmanship of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Chief Justice of Pakistan/Chairman, NJPMC, in Committee Room, Supreme Court of Pakistan, Islamabad.

On special invitation, the meeting was graced by Hon’ble Mr. Justice Mushir Alam, Senior Puisne Judge, Supreme Court of Pakistan, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Judge, Supreme Court of Pakistan, and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, Judge, Supreme Court of Pakistan. The meeting was attended by the Hon’ble Members of the NJPMC, including Hon’ble Chief Justice, Federal Shariat Court, Mr. Justice Muhammad Noor Meskanzai, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh, Chief Justice, High Court of Sindh (participated in the meeting through video linking), Mr. Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, Chief Justice, Peshawar High Court, Mr. Justice Athar Minallah, Chief Justice, Islamabad High Court, Mr. Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Chief Justice, High Court of Balochistan and Mr. Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan, Chief Justice, Lahore High Court.

Dr. Muhammad Raheem Awan, Secretary, National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee (NJPMC) convened the meeting. Furthermore, on special invitation, Dr. Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Health and Dr. Khurram Shahzad Akram, Incharge Judges Medical Centre, also attended the meeting.

The Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan/Chairman, NJPMC welcomed the participants and remarked that the prevailing situation on Corona Virus (COVID-19) in the country requires special attention and practical actions. He further remarked that the Supreme Court of Pakistan has already issued instructions regarding preventive measures to minimize the spread of contagion COVID-19. The Hon’ble Chair mentioned that Dr. Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Health, has been specially invited for apprising the Committee regarding various measures taken by the Federal Government to curb the Coronavirus in the Country.

The Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan further remarked that we will not compromise on our judicial system and not let it be derailed by getting panicked as people of Pakistan have great deal of confidence on judicial system so we will never disappoint them. The apex judiciary of the country will ensure and take all the necessary preventive measures for health and safety of our judges, court staff, lawyers, litigants and other justice sector stake holders up to the district and tehsil levels.

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Hon’ble Chairman, NJPMC, said that detailed instructions have already been issued to all High Courts to take all possible preventive measures by way of case management to ensure that the Court Rooms are not crowded and physical contact between individuals attending Courts is avoided. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has been and will continue to monitor implementation of such measures. The Secretary, NJPMC, briefed the Committee about the prevailing situation on Corona Virus in the country.

The Secretary also apprised the Committee about preventive measures taken by the august Supreme Court of Pakistan to curb the virus, which include avoiding hand shake, regular use of fumigation and disinfectant for cleaning of court premises/offices, cafeterias, Bar rooms, libraries, mosques and committee room, etc. After deliberations, the Committee unanimously resolved that instructions/guidelines issued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, shall be adopted by the Federal Shariat Court and High Courts upto the District and Tehsil Courts. Besides, the same may also be forwarded to the superior Judiciary of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. The Committee also deliberated upon and directed that the jail inmates (prisoners) shall be protected from being exposed to the risk of coronavirus/infection without denial of their right of family meetings, however, authorities will make sure to adopt precautionary measures and regulate the procedure of meetings. The Committee also deliberated upon likelihood of jail inmates to be exposed to coronavirus coming from outside, therefore, visitors visiting jail premises should be examined and properly screened to avoid any threat of infection of coronavirus to the prisoners, if any of the prisoner found infected he will be quarantined within jail premises without any delay from the premises.

The NJPMC unanimously resolved to adopt all these SoPs issued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which would be applicable on all the Courts. It is further decided that courts will remain open at all levels by reducing the judicial work load, so that the people working in the courts or visiting shall not be exposed to any risk of getting affected by virus. Therefore, people are urged not to unnecessarily visit court premises unless specifically required by any court. It is further resolved that protocol of health and hygiene would be ensured and adopted.

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In this regard like High Courts, District Courts will also reduce the work by hearing urgent matters and discouraging the entry of general public, as well as, assure to conduct screening tests of all persons entering in the Court premises. It is also resolved that no adverse order against any party would be passed in the courts in default i.e. non-prosecution or ex-parte order, etc. The Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Health informed the Committee that the issues like National Health Policy, Coordination, Research and Development, etc., devising guidelines regarding health emergencies and global representations, resides with the Federal Government.

Further informed that in the National Institute of Health, Islamabad, a surveillance unit has been established while there are similar units also operational in the Country and symptoms of Corona Virus are not disease specific. Moreover, the Virus has entered into Country from outside. Whereas, in few days, the Federal Government would import kits which would be made available to the Public Sector Health institution free of cost, moreover, the said free kits will be provided for conducting tests of specified categories of individuals free of cost to the eminent private sector hospitals and diagnostic centers.

The Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Health further informed that in the 32nd Meeting of the National Security Committee, dated 13th March, 2020, it was decided that the National Disaster Management Authority would be the lead operational agency of the Federal Government and would coordinate its efforts with the provincial and district authorities for implementation of preventive and curative actions.

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He further informed that the Federal Government Hospital, Islamabad, near to the National Institute of Health, Chak Shahzad, Islamabad, is being dedicated to combat Corona Virus. Moreover, the private sector is also coming forward to help the government to combat the Corona Virus. It was further resolved that the Crisis Management Committees would be formed by the respective High Courts to liaison with the concerned authorities for devising mechanism for safe guarding general public, litigants, lawyers, etc., from the spread of Corona Virus in the Federal Shariat Court and respective High Court premises, while for the District Judiciary the Hon’ble Chief Justice, High Courts would devise uniform plan/SoPs after consulting with the respective Administrative Committees, District and Sessions Judges and Bars.

Besides, the High Courts shall decide suitable protocol for type of urgent cases to be fixed for hearing, the number of Judges to hold Court, the duration of their sessions held on rotation and the corresponding number of judges and the staff that shall be on leave during such sessions. Hon’ble Mr. Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, Judge Supreme Court of Pakistan has been nominated as focal Judge being Chairman of the Supreme Court Health and Safety Committee to ensure the implementation of the directions of the NJPMC. Whereas, the Federal Shariat Court and High Courts would also nominate a Focal Person to maintain the liaison among the Judiciary, Government Departments and relevant authorities.

The Hon’ble Chief Justice of High Courts will take such additional steps including administrative measure in consultation with Provincial health Authorities as may be deemed necessary. In order to ensure uniformity, the Hon’ble Focal Judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan shall be kept in loop before such additional steps and measures are implemented. It was unanimously agreed that these all measures are taken for three weeks after that these will be reviewed according to the prevailing situation of the county.

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