Prevention Of Sexual Harassment [POSH]

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Introduction

Every company is responsible to provide a safe working environment for all people. The purpose of this policy is to prevent sexual harassment in offices or workplaces.

It also extends to those who are not employees of the company such as customers, visitors, 3rd party workers, etc.
All the employees should have the personal responsibility to ensure that their behavior is not in contravention with the policy.

Every company has to display the “Do’s and Don’ts at workplace” list in a place where everyone can see and read it.

Sexual Harassment[direct or by implication]

  • Any kind of unusual and unwelcome sexual requests or demand for sexual favors in return for employment, promotion, examination or evaluation of a person
  • Stalking, displaying indecent posters, showing pornography, sending jokes, comments, messages which are inappropriate and sexual in nature, lurid stares, physical contact or molestation, inappropriate sounds, signs, questioning about person’s private life or body, insults or taunts based on sex or any kind of communication either verbal or non-verbal which affects the performance of the individual
  • Physical confinement against one’s will and likely to interrupt the privacy of the person
  • Any act or conduct by a person who is in authority, which creates the environment at workplace hostile or intimidating to a person belonging to the other sex

Internal Complaint Committee[ICC]

Every company there are less than 10 persons then no need to form a committee. In this case, all the complaints go to the local complaints committee which is set up by district officers in district as per the Act.

If the company has 10 or more employees must have ICC and all the complaints of sexual harassment are dealt by the committee.

The ICC should comprise 4 members among them half of the members will necessarily have to be women.

Members of ICC

  • A presiding officer, women working at a senior level in the office
  • Member of the company who has legal knowledge and experience in social work
  • External member for example NGOs, any person familiar with issues related to sexual harassment

The complaints committee is responsible for receiving and investigating every complaint of sexual harassment, submitting findings and recommendations of the inquiry to the employer and coordinating with the employer before implementing any kind of appropriate action. The committee is also responsible to maintain confidentiality throughout the process.
It is the duty of the employer to provide a safe working environment and conduct awareness programs regarding the prevention of sexual harassment and provide necessary assistance and facilities to the committee in dealing with the complaints.

Dealing with complaints – Procedure

The complaint is needed to be lodged within 3 months from the date of the incident along with documentary evidence or names of witnesses [if available]. The committee can extend the timeline to another 3 months, if it is satisfied with the reasons which prevent the lodging of a complaint, within the first 3 months. The complaint shall be in any form either through phone or email but every oral communication should be followed up with the written communication.

In a case where a complaint cannot be made in writing then the presiding officer or any member of the committee shall assist the person for making the complaint in writing.
If an aggrieved person is unable to lodge the complaint then any person who is having knowledge of the incident or any family member/ relative/ friend or co-worker can lodge the complaint on behalf of his/her. It is the responsibility of the person who receives the complaint should inform the committee members.
ICC can try to settle but monetary compensation is not the basis for the settlement. If the aggrieved person is not ready to settle then ICC will inquire Both the parties will get a chance to be heard and complete the inquiry within 90 days.

After the inquiry, if the accused person who founds guilty, then the corrective action is taken by the authority.

Corrective Actions

  • Formal apology
  • Transfer of the person to another department.
  • Suspension or termination of services of the employee found guilty for such offense.
  • Counseling.
  • A written warning to the concerned employee and maintained in his record.

Reliefs to victims

  • Monetary compensation
  • Grant leave for 3 months
  • Transfer the victim to any other department where he/she feels safe to work

Penalty

If the employer does not comply with the law then fine of Rs.50,000/- can be imposed. On the repeated non-compliance,the employer can be penalized with double of the punishment. Non-compliance can also lead to cancellation of license, withdrawal or non-renewal of registration for carrying on business, by the Government

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You might like the page Do’s & Don’ts at Office or Workplace

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