We can assist your organization to create a culture of zero-tolerance against sexual harassment at the workplace.
Setting up a new workplace or running an old one, both can be chaotic for an employer, especially when it comes to complying with all governmental rules and regulations. Here are we, to help you to fulfill all your compliances without any issue. In the 21st century, we witness that men are not only the breadwinner for their family; the women of the family can also be the head of the family. The society has become progressive enough to promote gender equality in workplaces. To promote the same and to protect the women from harassment at the workplace, the government has enacted an act called as Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act (POSH) in the year 2013. Since then, it’s become mandatory for every employer who is having a workplace where women work, to comply with the provisions of the above-mentioned act.
WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT?
Sexual harassment is any kind of unwelcome sexual advance or conduct that is done with an objective of intimidating any employee or colleague and creates an offensive working environment.
The harasser can be a coworker – senior or colleague. Even a non-employee such as a vendor/customer can also be responsible for it.
Similarly, the victim can either be male or female and can even be forced on the same sex. But the majority of the cases see women as the victim and men as the harasser.
Sexual harassment is generally done under the pretext of:
- The promise of giving employment
- The threat of employment status in future
- The promise of perquisites or promotions
- The threats of demotions or humiliating behaviour/insult (personal or public)
WHO HAS TO COMPLY?
Since this act intends to protect working women, therefore all the employers have to comply with this act. Now the question arises, who falls under the category of an employer?
As per the act, any person who is the head of the department, organization, undertaking, establishment, enterprise, institution, office, branch, or unit of the appropriate government or a local authority, shall be considered as an employer for the compliances of this Act.
If your workplace does not fall in the above-mentioned paragraph, then any person, who is responsible for management, supervision, or control of such a workplace, shall be considered an employer.
WHAT IS WORKPLACE UNDER POSH?
The unfortunate incident of sexual harassment doesn’t need to be limited to the primary place of employment. Therefore the POSH has introduced the concept of the Extended Workplace. This concept includes any place visited by the employee arising out of or during the course of employment. This concept also includes the transportation facility provided by the employer for commuting to and from the place of employment.
WHAT ONE HAS TO DO?
When you are an employer as mentioned in the above heading, you have to by way of an order in writing, form a committee called ‘Internal Complaints Committee’ (further referred to as IC). If your workplace has different units or offices or branches, then IC has to be formed at every unit, office, and branch.
The IC shall consist of the following members:
- A Presiding officer, who shall be women employed at a senior level in your workplace;
- Two members from your employees who are committed towards the cause of women or have experience in social work or have legal knowledge;
- One member from NGO or such associations committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment:
The employer further has to ensure that these members are duly nominated by the employer and half of the total members so nominated are women.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ONE FILE A COMPLAINT?
Upon receiving such complaint, IC shall within 7 days inform, the other person, against whom such complaint is filed by way of supplying a copy of the complaint. On receipt of the copy of the complaint, the other party shall reply to the ICC with all supporting documents. Then IC shall conduct an inquiry-based on such complaint which is to be completed within 90 days. Then the employer must comply with the recommendations given by IC within 60 days from the date of completion of inquiry.
RULES TO BE FOLLOWED BY AN INTERNAL COMPLAINT COMMITTEE
Following procedure is followed by the Internal Complaint Committee in case of any sexual harassment complaint by an employee:
- A complaint can be filed by the victim within 3 months of the incident.
- A representative can also file a complaint on behalf of the victim in case of his/her physical incapability.
- Non-monetary reconciliation between the concerned parties is attempted before the inquiry begins.
- If unsuccessful, inquiry is done in 90 days by hearing out both the parties.
- Within 10 days, the inquiry report is submitted.
- The organization needs to take necessary actions based on the recommendations of the committee within 60 days.
- If the victim is not satisfied, he/she is free to appeal in the court.
- The company is required to give details about the number of sexual harassment cases arose and settled within the year in its annual report
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES WHEN ONE DOES NOT COMPLY?
If being an employer, you do not comply with the provision of this act or fails to form an Internal Complaints Committee then a fine of Rs. 50,000 may be imposed upon you. On repeating the same offence, you could face a double penalty or even de-registration of your workplace.
We can assist your organization to create a culture of zero-tolerance against sexual harassment at the workplace. Amongst other things, this includes setting up a robust preventive framework, conducting awareness and sensation training sessions, investigating a complaint, and assisting the company in case the alleged victim/harasser files a legal complaint. We also provide:
- Interactive Sessions for employees on Sexual harassment and legal aspect of this Act: Explaining, inter alia, what is sexual harassment, employees’ roles, and responsibilities and legal aspects of the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act, 2013.
- Workshops for training the trainers: Conduct customized workshops which includes sharing the speaker roles with the participants.
- Annual workshops/webinars on POSH: Annual workshops/webinars on POSH which can be customized in accordance with the organization’s requirements including developing the modules in English and/or any vernacular language.
- Workshops for IC members including investigation and interviewing skills: Share case studies to help clarify provisions of the Act and explain techniques for handling complaints including understanding what is a good evidence, how to interview alleged victim/harassed, avoid common mistakes such as unconscious bias.
- Investigation Support: Support the IC in conducting investigations not only to stop sexual harassment but also to protect the organization from any liability or litigation.
- Skill-set for complicated investigations: Forensic technology professionals help with imaging and reviewing electronic devices, verifying evidence submitted and performing business market intelligence including the background searchers on the alleged victim/ harasser.
- Question and Answer Session: Open Q&A session (online and offline) for employees and Members of IC.
We also support the investigations not only to stop sexual harassment but also from any other legal liability.
We gear your organization to:
- Understand what the legal framework is;
- Comply with legislation;
- Handle a complaint if received;
- Tackle legal intricacies;
- Identify, recognize and prevent sexual harassment;
- Frame an anti-sexual harassment policy and constitute the IC in line with the act;
- To tackle a situation when a person who is sexually harassed comes to you for help;
- To help in filing a complaint about or report an incident that has taken place at the workplace.