What is the compliance related to PoSH?
PoSH compliance refers to the adherence to the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013, which mandates the creation of a safe and secure workplace environment for women and prohibits any form of sexual harassment.
Is PoSH Act applicable to all companies?
PoSH compliance applies to many organizations with more than 10 employees
in India. Employers have a duty to provide a safe and secure work environment
for all employees and to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
What are steps to ensure PoSH Compliance in an Organisation?
1. Preparation of comprehensive PoSH policy and recognize Sexual Harassment as Misconduct: Every organisation must draft a comprehensive anti-sexual harassment policy as per PoSH Act , 2013 Employer must ensure that this policy clearly mentions what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in a workplace. The policy may also include a definition of sexual harassment, the responsibilities of all employees in prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace, complaint mechanism and the penalties for sexual harassment. The policy will clearly state that the organization considers sexual harassment to be improper conduct under the rules of employment.
Since this policy must be distributed to all employees, it should be written in plain language that everyone can understand, even if your language proficiency level is not high. Employers must take steps to ensure that all employees are aware of the existence of such policies in the organization. The policy should be stored in an easily accessible place.
2. Constitute an Internal Committee(IC): As per PoSH act, the grievance redressal team that handles and accepts sexual harassment complaints is called the internal committee or IC. If the organization has ten or more employees, the employer must constitute an Internal Committee as prescribed by the PoSH Act. The internal committee should be composed of:
- A presiding officer who is the senior female employee
- Two employees (called internal members), preferably dedicated to the cause of women or having experience
in social work or legal knowledge.
- An external member, who is part of an NGO or an association committee to cause women or familiar about the issues of sexual harassment. The external member must not have any relationship with the organisation or any employee to ensure the presence of a non- biased committee member.
The internal committee will accept sexual harassment cases for women who faced sexual harassment at workplace and redress them within 90 days as stipulated by PoSH Act.
It is necessary for every organization to follow the guidelines of PoSH Act when constituting the internal committee as improper constitution can be questioned in court.
3. Displaying PoSH Posters: The PoSH Act wants the employer to take every action or measure to improve awareness about sexual harassment at workplace among the employees. One of the prescribed measures is to display posters about Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) in prominent places in the organization. It should mention contact details of all IC members.
4. Arrange awareness sessions for Employees and the Internal committee: Other measures to raise awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace under the PoSH law are regular actions to raise awareness and train
The training will help employees understand the important provisions of the Act, the definition of sexual harassment, the complaint and redressal mechanisminternal committees, and their responsibilities in preventing harassment. For a PoSH training to be effective in reducing sexual harassment at workplace, ensure that the training is legally accurate, to avoid consequences.
5. Assistance to complete Investigation: Under the PoSH Act, employers are required to provide all necessary assistance to internal committees to complete investigations. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Providing assistance to ensure Complainants, Respondents and witnesses are present at every stage of the investigation
- Providing information available to them at their requested through the Internal Committee.
Once the enquiry is completed, the IC will submit it findings and recommendation (the action to be taken against the guilty) as an enquiry report to the employer. The employer must ensure that the management takes the required action as per the recommendation of the internal committee.
6. Providing Assistance to the Local Committee: A proper assistance should be given to the local committee. If an organization does not have more than ten employees in the organization, the employer need not constitute an Internal Committee to redress sexual harassment. Instead, there will be Local committee set up in every district. Local Committee will accept the sexual harassment complaint from women employee:
- Who are from organization with less than ten employees
- If the complaint is against an employer
- If the employee is working in an organized sector, like domestic help
7. Helping complainants to file complaint to the police: Women who have been sexually harassed by staff of an organization have the right to file a complaint with both the internal committee and the police. Additionally, internal committee will not have the authority to investigate complaints or recommend action if the harasser is a third party. In such circumstances, the employer must help the cocerned person to lodge a complaint with the police.
8. Annual Report to be filled by the organization: How does the government track an organization’s PoSH compliance? It is through the annual report submitted by the organization to the district officer every calendar year.
9. Failure to comply with PoSH Act can be Costly: Failure to comply with the provisions of the PoSH Act is strongly discouraged due to the penalties outlined in the PoSH Act:
If an employer fails to comply with any of the provisions of PoSH law, they will be fined up to Rs 50,000. or its registration may be revoke
Keep in mind that in addition to the above fine, the court may also order the employer to pay damages to the concerned party.
Here are some examples.
Madras High Court ordered an employer to pay a woman Rs 1.68 lakh as compensation for a woman’s lost opportunities due to unconstitutional internal committees.
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 also help in empanelment of external members of IC.
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