Formation of ICC under PoSH act

formation of ICC committee

Formation of  ICC under posh act 2013 (Internal Complaints Committee)  its role and responsibilities

Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 and Rules (2013) ( collectively referred to as “PoSH laws”) aim at imposing the Employers with the responsibility to ensure a safe working environment to women at their workplace.

Every employer/ establishment employing ten or more employees is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee ( referred to as the “ICC”) in order to provide a suitable redressal mechanism to the women aggrieved by the incident of sexual harassment.

Objectives of Formation of ICC under PoSH act

The objectives of the Internal Complaint Committee to Prevent Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace are as follows:

  • To develop a policy against sexual harassment of women at the workplace
  • To evolve a permanent mechanism for the prevention and redressal of sexual harassment cases and other acts of gender-based violence
  • To ensure the implementation of the policy in letter and spirit through proper reporting of the complaints and their follow-up procedures.
  • To uphold the commitment of the organization to provide an environment free of gender-based discrimination.
  • To create a safe and working environment  in the organisation
  • To  raise awareness on sexual harassment in its various forms.
formation of ICC under posh act

Formation of ICC under PoSH act

The ICC will be composed of the following members: nominated by the Employer namely: 

  • 1 Presiding officer who shall be  a woman employed at a senior level at workplace from amongst the employees, if not available then nominated from another office/ units/ department/ workplace of the same employer;
  • 2 Members from amongst employees preferably committed to the cause of women or who have had experience in social work or have legal knowledge
  • 1 External Panel Member i.e., member from amongst non-governmental organizations or associations committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment.

This external member acts as an unbiased third party with  no past affiliations with either parties in a complaint. It is pertinent to understand that such an objective point of view is crucial in disposing off sensitive matters relating to sexual harassment where prejudice and political pressure may influence the fair proceedings of the Committee.

As per the Section 4 of the PoSH Act, the Internal Committee shall consist of a minimum of 4 members and at least 50% of the total members shall be women.

If the constitution of the Committee is, thus, not in accordance with the Act, the inquiry done by them would be vitiated. The courts have time and again reiterated that if the Internal Committee is formed in contrast to the provisions of Section 4 of the PoSH Act, then the constitution of the committee itself would be illegal.

Tenure of  ICC Members

 It has been prescribed that the Presiding Officer and every Member of the Internal Committee shall hold office for such period not exceeding 3 years, from the date of their nomination as may be specified by the employer.

Should an Internal Committee be constituted at all branches of a company?

An Internal Complaints Committee must be constituted at all administrative units of a company. At every branch of a company, having more than 10 employees, an internal  committee is required to be established by law.

The presence of women employees at these branches is irrelevant. This is so because the fact of the matter is clearly stated in law which says that third parties such as contractors, customers, interns and any other woman visiting the premises of a company to file a complaint of sexual harassment which takes place in said workplace. 

Function of ICC

  • Ensure that all complaints are addressed in a proper manner
  • Ensure that no victimisation will result from making a complaint
  • Procedure is well documented, available and in accessible format
  • Assistance is provided in the form of language interpreters as needed for parties to a complaint
  • Ensuring the process is confidential, independent and based on principles of natural justice both for complainant and respondent
  • Ensuring the process has clear timelines
  • All conflicts of interest are managed appropriately

Disqualification of the ICC Members

Presiding Officer or any ICC Member, as the case may be, shall be removed from the ICC in case he/ she:-

  • Breaches the obligation of maintaining confidentiality of the inquiry processing pertaining to sexual harassment against the aggrieved woman
  • Has been convicted for an offence or an inquiry into an offeree under any law for the time being in force is, pending against him/ her
  • Has been found guilty in any disciplinary proceedings or a disciplinary proceeding is pending against him/her
  • Has  abused his/ her position as to render his continuance in office prejudicial to the public interest.

Improperly Constituted ICC – Implications and Judicial Trends

The POSH Act prescribes that failure by an employer to constitute an ICC is an offence punishable with fine for an amount of up to Rupees Fifty Thousand. Further, an employer convicted for the same offence at the second instance may be punishable with a fine for twice such amount, as well as be liable to cancellation or non-renewal of its business licenses, registrations or approvals by the government or local authorities.

However, more than the above penalties prescribed under law, an organization should be concerned about ensuing bad press associated with sexual harassment charges involving its employees, especially in this day and age of proliferation of technology and social media. Such bad press has the potential to severely dent an organization tangibly (for instance, through termination of associations and blacklisting from future partnerships) as well as intangibly (such as loss of reputation as an employer in the job market, as well as an inability to attract and retain talent).

An ICC’s functioning is very important to ensure protection to women at workplace. It is imperative to conduct proceedings respecting sensitivities of participants while bringing a resolution to the matter within stipulated timelines.

Accordingly, it is imperative from an organization’s perspective that its ICC is constituted validly and strictly in compliance with the POSH Act to ensure that there are no grounds at a later date for challenging the validity of the proceedings conducted, thereby obviating the requirement to start the process again from scratch.

PoSH Training for ICC Members

SEXUAL HARASSMENT is an un welcome behaviour of a sexual nature. PoSH (The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is an Act to provide protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and for the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

As per PoSH Act 2013, it is mandatory for all employers to form an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) and conduct capacity building for its ICC.

POSH training for ICC member under posh act

Introduction about ICC

Internal Complaints Committee(ICC) is a mandatory committee which every employer is required to constitute within his/her organization. In case of organizations having multiple offices,  an ICC has to be constituted at each branch office to address the issues of sexual harassment. Every company needs to have in place an effective ICC committee else the company can be penalized for non-constitution of ICC.

Formation of ICC under PoSH act

The ICC will be composed of the following members: nominated by the Employer namely:

1 Presiding officer who shall be  a woman employed at a senior level at workplace from amongst the employees, if not available then nominated from other office/ units/ department/ workplace of the same employer;

2 Members from amongst employees preferably committed to the cause of women or who have had experience in social work or have legal knowledge;

1 External Panel Member i.e., member from amongst non-governmental organizations or associations committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment.

This external member acts as an unbiased third party with a clean slate and no past affiliations with either parties in a complaint. It is pertinent to understand that such an objective point of view is crucial in disposing off sensitive matters relating to sexual harassment where prejudice and political pressure may influence the fair proceedings of the Committee.

Scope of ICC training

The ICC training is an important part of complain redressal process and is helpful in making the Internal Complaints Committee learn about the important elements of the compliance under the Act. ICC training focuses on the below mentioned agenda :-

  • Role & Responsibilities of  internal complaints committee
  •  The powers assigned ICC under PoSH ACT.
  • Methodology for conducting inquiry on Sexual Harassment complaint
  • Understanding concepts such as Evidence, Summons. Understanding formal & informal complaints and complaints mechanism including timelines.
  • Handling of complaints (things to keep in mind).
  • Important guidelines which ICC is required to comply  while conducting the sexual harassment inquiry
  • The  timelines for resolving complains as defined under the Act which ICC needs to follow while investigating a complaint
  • Recommendations to be given.
  • Understanding conciliation and the  process to be followed for  conciliation
  •  Detailed insights on what is a frivolous compliant and complete procedure to handle it
  •  Importance of confidentiality and no retaliation.
  • . Statutory Reporting.
  • Understanding duties of employer & its relation to  internal complaints committee.

Function of ICC

  • Fair and unbiased behaviour towards both parties
  • Ensure that every complaint received is handled in a proper manner
  • Ensure that no victimisation will result from making a complaint
  • Procedure is well documented, available and in accessible format
  • Assistance is provided in the form of language interpreters as needed for parties to a complaint
  • Ensuring the process is confidential, independent and based on principles of natural justice
  • Ensuring the process has clear timelines
  • All conflicts of interest are managed appropriately

Want to conduct PoSH training for ICC members?

We provide the following services:-

Pls contact us at info@proudhr.com

Shivani Bose is a PoSH certified trainer and has been instrumental in implementing PoSH across industries. She is an external panel member of ICC for various companies. She has conducted several workshops  on  Gender  sensitization  and PoSH awareness and had counselled several clients facing mental wellness and gender bias issues.

 Proud HR Services is an end-to-end service partner for the implementation of Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) legal compliance. We partner with companies on case redressal and policies to proactively build safer work cultures and sexual harassment (POSH) trainings either in person or virtually. We will establish and clarify the roles and functions of each member. We also provide training for all employees and ICC. We also help in empanelment of external members of IC.

For more details on diversity, inclusion and prevention of sexual harassment, pls contact at info@proudhr.com

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Refrences

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