Getting ‘POSH’ (Policy on Sexual Harassment)

19 May 2018

Globally, the ‘MeToo’ movement created a huge impact and brought to the world’s attention the importance of protection of women against sexual harassment, especially at workplace.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“Act”) is one of the most important legislations for women and we cannot stress on its importance enough at any workplace. But it takes a controversial example to curtail the rest. In the wake of all the confusion, lets take a quick insight at how exactly can start-ups and small businesses implement the Act at their workplaces. With the Act, the Central Government also notified the supporting rules - The Sexual Harassment Of Women At Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition And Redressal) Rules, 2013 simultaneously for ease.

Who does the Act apply to?

  1. Any employer of any public, private establishment.
  2. Any and all private and public institutions, organization, establishment so on and so forth. 

In essence, if you have any contractual obligation towards your employees, you come under the ambit of the Act.

What are the things an employer needs to do in order to comply with the Act?

  1. Formulate and widely disseminate an internal policy which details out the Do’s and Don’ts at workplace, acts that will be considered as sexual harassment, grievance and complaints redressal mechanism, internal committee and local committee details etc.
  2. Constitute an Internal Committee and make the employees aware of the same in writing
  3. Create general awareness through workshops and seminars at the workplace.

Who should form a part of the Internal Committee?

  • A Presiding Officer, who shall be a woman at a senior level at the workplace from among the employees
  • At least two members amongst employees who have experience in social work or legal knowledge
  • One member from NGO or a person who is familiar with the sexual harassment issues

These members shall be nominated by the employer. One-half of total members should be women. The Internal Committee was erstwhile called Internal Complaints Committee before amendment of the Act vide the Repealing and Amending Act, 2016.

Is it compulsory to have an Internal Complaints Committee?

Yes, if your organization has more than 10 employees.

Where will the victim go if there is no Internal Complaints Committee?

The victim can complain to the Local Committee (erstwhile called Local Complaints Committee before amendment under the Repealing and Amending Act, 2016) formed by the Government for each district pursuant to the Act. Any complaint against the employer himself can be taken to the Local Committee.

Compliance requirements

An employer who falls within the requirements of the POSH Act and has to appoint an Internal Committee, is required to submit an annual report to the local District Officer, for each calendar year. The Report much contain the details of the Complaints received, the actions taken, number of pending complaints and resolved complaints and awareness workshops held by the organization.

What is the penalty for non-compliance?

Contravention and non-compliance on part of the employer shall be punishable with fine, which may extend to Rs. 50,000/- and cancellation of license to do business (in case of repetition).

What is the relief granted under the Act?

Any woman can make a complaint to the Internal Committee or the Local Committee in the absence of it within 3 months of the incident. This right is also extended to her legal heirs or any person as prescribed.

The content of this article is for information purpose only and does not constitute advice or a legal opinion and are personal views of the author. It is based upon relevant law and/or facts available at that point of time and prepared with due accuracy & reliability. Readers are requested to check and refer to relevant provisions of statute, latest judicial pronouncements, circulars, clarifications etc. before acting on the basis of the above write up. The possibility of other views on the subject matter cannot be ruled out. By the use of the said information, you agree that the Author / Treelife is not responsible or liable in any manner for the authenticity, accuracy, completeness, errors or any kind of omissions in this piece of information for any action taken thereof.

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