POSH Compliance

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    Overview of POSH Compliance:

    In 2013, India enacted the POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) Act to ensure a protected and respectful work environment for women. The POSH Compliance act encompasses various forms of sexual harassment, such as physical, verbal, emotional, and cyber harassment. Obligatory for every workplace with over 10 workers since its inception, the POSH Act is yet to be fully adopted by numerous companies.

    The measures encompass formulating a policy against sexual harassment, establishing an Internal Complaints Committee, and implementing educational sessions for the workforce.

    POSH Act, 2013 – Documentation Guidelines

    Pre-documenting a POSH complaint involves compiling a detailed written narrative of the harassment an employee has encountered in the workplace. This narrative might take the form of a diary note, email, or another written medium.

    There are several benefits to documenting POSH Compliance. It establishes a chronological record that may serve as proof if legal proceedings ensue. Moreover, it places a responsibility on the employer to address the misconduct and foster a secure work atmosphere for everyone.

    In the pre-documentation of a POSH grievance, it’s crucial to record all pertinent information, including dates, times, individuals involved, and locations. It’s also essential to list any witnesses. The documentation should be as explicit and succinct as possible.

    Eligibility for Filing Complaints under POSH Act, 2013

    The POSH Act is applicable to all entities with a workforce exceeding 10 employees. Entities with a smaller team may choose to voluntarily implement the POSH Act’s guidelines.

    Entities mandated to adhere to the POSH Act are obligated to undertake initiatives to prevent and address sexual harassment incidents at work. They are also responsible for ensuring a secure and supportive environment for their female staff, including safeguarding them against sexual harassment.

    Entities supporting the POSH Compliance Act’s stipulations must constitute an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to process sexual harassment complaints. The ICC should be chaired by a female employee and must comprise no less than 50% female members.

    Non-compliance with the POSH Act’s requirements could result in punitive consequences as per the Indian Penal Code and other relevant legislations.

    Documents Required for POSH Compliance:

    Under the 2013 Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) is tasked with preserving specific documents related to a sexual harassment complaint (POSH Compliance).

    The ICC is required to maintain:

    • The victim’s formal written complaint of sexual harassment.
    • Any corroborative documents or evidence provided by the victim, such as emails, text messages, etc.
    • Recorded statements from the inquiry, including those of witnesses.
    • The ICC’s conclusive report following the completion of the inquiry.

    Compulsory Company Actions for POSH Compliance in India

    Under the POSH Act, companies must execute these obligatory actions:

    1. Form an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC): Companies with a staff count exceeding 10 are mandated to establish an ICC. The committee should consist of a minimum of 4 members, with a senior employee serving as the Presiding Officer. Women should represent at least half of the ICC’s composition.
    2. Publicize sexual harassment policy: It’s required for companies to prominently display their sexual harassment policy within the workplace. This notice should detail the names and contact information of the ICC members.
    3. Implement educational programs: Regular educational initiatives about sexual harassment and complaint procedures as per the POSH Act are compulsory for all employees.
    4. Swiftly address complaints: The ICC is tasked with the rapid investigation of any lodged complaints and, upon finding guilt, must ensure appropriate action is taken against the offender.

    Synopsis of the POSH Act, 2013

    The POSH (Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment) Act of 2013 is a significant legal framework established to shield women from sexual harassment at their place of employment. Addressing the widespread issue of sexual harassment in India, the POSH Act was enacted as a countermeasure to its increasing acknowledgment.

    To guarantee the effective application of the Act’s directives, it is incumbent upon every employer to form an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). The ICC’s role is to process sexual harassment complaints and to affirm a secure and unbiased work environment for all staff members. The ICC must also undertake investigations into such complaints and present a detailed report of its findings and suggestions to the employer.

    Furthermore, the POSH Act obliges employers to conduct consistent training sessions for their employees. These sessions are focused on the prevention of sexual harassment and elucidating the complaint filing process. This directive is a pivotal move towards cultivating a secure and harassment-free professional setting for women in India.

    Consequences of the POSH Act, 2013

    The POSH Act of 2013 has profoundly influenced Indian workplaces, particularly in enhancing women’s safety. It has heightened the consciousness of sexual harassment issues and instituted a legal structure for their resolution. The Act has empowered women to voice sexual harassment incidents without the dread of backlash, holding employers responsible for maintaining a secure and impartial work environment.

    The formation of Internal Complaints Committees (ICCs) has offered women a means for recourse and a clearer mechanism for complaint resolution. Collectively, the Act has advanced workplace gender sensitivity and fairness across India.

    Characteristics of the POSH Act, 2013

    • The Act is enforceable in all establishments employing over 10 individuals.
    • Establishments must establish Internal Complaints Committees (ICCs) to probe into sexual harassment grievances.
    • Employers must ensure a protected and secure environment for female employees, which includes the provision of CCTV surveillance, security personnel, and policies against sexual harassment.
    • Employees subjected to sexual harassment have the right to lodge a complaint with the ICC or directly with law enforcement.
    • Employers failing to adhere to the POSH Act’s regulations may incur penalties up to ₹50,000.

    Summary of the POSH Act, 2013 Rules

    The Protection Against Harassment at Workplace Rules, 2013 (POSH Rules), established under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013, offer a comprehensive framework for the prevention and redressal of sexual harassment in the workplace.

    Applicable to all organizations with a staff of ten or more, the POSH Rules define sexual harassment as any unwelcome sexual behavior, whether physical, verbal, or non-verbal, that can:

    • Demean or mortify a woman;
    • Generate a hostile or intimidating work atmosphere; or
    • Impact a woman’s job or career progression.

    Organizations are mandated to have a written POSH policy that outlines sexual harassment, details a complaint process, and delineates the duties of both employer and employee.

    The POSH Rules prescribe a dual-layered complaint system:

    • The Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), is formed by the employer to investigate and resolve sexual harassment complaints.
    • The Local Committee, established by the District Officer to handle unresolved complaints by the ICC.

    These rules serve as a vital instrument for organizations to prevent and tackle sexual harassment, ensuring a safe and secure workplace for everyone.

    Key aspects of the POSH Rules include:

    • Mandatory written POSH policy for organizations with ten or more employees.
    • Visible display of the policy at the workplace and accessibility to all employees.
    • A confidential complaint mechanism that protects victims from retaliation.
    • Employer’s duty to prevent workplace sexual harassment and to take corrective action against perpetrators.

    For employees facing sexual harassment, complaints can be filed with the ICC, Local Committee, or the police.

    Employers are responsible for:

    • Making employees aware of the POSH Rules and the organization’s POSH policy.
    • Conducting sexual harassment prevention training.
    • Cultivating a respectful and dignified workplace culture.
    • Addressing incidents of sexual harassment promptly.

    Adhering to these steps is crucial for maintaining a safe and respectful work environment for all employees.

    • The POSH Act, or the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act, was established in India to protect women from sexual harassment at the workplace and create a safe working environment.

    • Any organisation with more than 10 employees must comply with the POSH Act. Organisations with fewer employees can voluntarily adopt its provisions.

    • Key features include the establishment of an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), a written policy against sexual harassment, and regular awareness programs for employees.

    • Companies must appoint an ICC, display the sexual harassment policy, conduct awareness programs, and investigate complaints promptly.

    • The POSH Committee investigates complaints, takes disciplinary action, and develops policies to prevent sexual harassment.

    • Non-compliance can lead to penalties under the Indian Penal Code and other laws, including fines up to ₹50,000.

    • The POSH Act has raised awareness, provided a legal framework to address sexual harassment, and promoted gender sensitivity and equity in the workplace.

    • Yes, individuals who experience sexual harassment at work can file a complaint with the ICC or directly with the police.