The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 ("PoSH Act") has been enacted with the objective of preventing and protecting women against workplace sexual harassment and to ensure effective redressal of complaints of sexual harassment. As per Section 3 of the PoSH Act, a woman shall not be subjected to sexual harassment at her workplace.
As per the PoSH Act, an 'aggrieved woman' in relation to a workplace, can be a woman of any age, whether employed or not, who alleges to have been subjected to any act of sexual harassment. It is pointed out that the definition of woman under the PoSH Act does not necessitate the woman to be an employee and even a customer/client/ visitor who may be sexually harassed at a workplace can claim protection under the PoSH Act.
We would like to point out that the PoSH Act has to be complied with by every employer having more than 10 employees in the organized as well as unorganized sector. The non-compliance with the regulations listed in the PoSH Act and Rules can burden an organization with heavy monetary punishments and other damages that can harm the working environment and can result in a setback to the reputation of the organization. However, following are the mitigants and essential and mandatory steps that have to be taken to avoid cases of sexual harassment at the organization. We provide below a list of Compliance requirement under the PoSH Act.
|S.No.||Activity||Timelines||Actions to be taken|
|1.||Creating a Anti Sexual Harassment Policy for the organization||Immediate||The policy that is specific to the organization can be created with the help of experts in the field|
|2.||Constitution of an Internal Complaints Committee||Immediate||An 'Internal Complaints Committee' ("IC") to hear and redress grievances pertaining to sexual harassment. The constitution of IC is prescribed under the PoSH Act|
|3.||Annual Report sent by the IC to the employer and District Officer containing details of the sexual harassment proceedings||Annually (for each calendar year)||To be furnished in the prescribed format|
|4.||Sexual harassment must be recognized as a form of misconduct in the organization||Immediate||Incorporation in the employment contracts/ HR policy/ Sexual harassment policy.|
|5.||Issue certificate from the employees to evidence compliance||Periodic||The certificate should be in the form of a declaration that states the employee has not experienced any incident of sexual harassment in the organization.|
|6.||Display of posters/ notices in prominent places in the premises of the organization informing employees about zero-tolerance towards sexual harassment||Immediate||Posters with graphics can be prepared. The posters must also contain the information of the members of the IC.|
|7.||Sensitization workshops and seminars must be organized to inform the employees about their rights||Periodic||The format in which the workshops/ seminars can be decided by the organization|
|8.||Capacity-building programmes for the members of IC||Periodic||Training should be given to members of IC for conducting sexual harassment proceedings|
|9.||Informing new joinees about the zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment||As needed||The new joinees in the organization should be given sufficient training and information on what constitutes sexual harassment|
|10.||Prohibition from using the information technology assets for indulging in sexual harassment||Immediate||In the changed circumstances due to the pandemic a lot of organizations are working from home. The trend might even continue in the longer run. Therefore, sufficient modifications/ additions should be made in the new and existing PoSH policies to incorporate situations to cover instances of sexual harassment via IT|
|11.||Monitoring the performance and functioning of the IC||Periodic||Necessary knowledge is to be imparted including information as to amendments and judgments on the law|
|12.||Assistance to be given to the aggrieved employee to initiate criminal complaint in the police station||As needed||Guidance to be given to employee as to how to proceed with the filing of an FIR|
|13.||Implementation of gender neutral policies to afford adequate protection to male employees as well||Optional||Guides for male and transgender employees and formulation of gender neutral versions of the sexual harassment policy|
|14.||PoSH policy should be made applicable to all the offices including the main branch of the organization||Immediate||Sufficient knowledge between branches of the organization should be ensured to guarantee compliance at all levels|
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.