Research performed among the working women in India concluded that a woman endured an event of harassment every 42 minutes. This amounts to the maximum with an average of 34 incidents a day and 240 events per week and also a surprising 1028 events within a month. It is an alarming range to affect as nearly all of those events go unreported. All of this demands the demand for a strong mechanism to prevent sexual harassment.

The Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act of 2013 developed to present to protect women inside their office and to render tips for organizations at delivering better-operating conditions for working women. The Act put out specific provisions that the corporate should implement. It focuses on protecting against office harassment, and a few other failures in following the law which could have consequences for woman personally and also the commercial enterprise.

How Does Harassment Impact the Organisation?

Financial Impact

Sexual harassment claims can run any organisation tons of money. One of the youngest directors at Infosys, Phaneesh Murthy, was accused of harassment with his secretary. A compensation of $3 million was paid for settlement. The compensation for any incident of harassment can also bring much trouble with no compensation even to your company because you’ll need to put up with the authorized costs linked to things. Sexual-harassment cases have a big effect on the organization and abuse, or maybe harassment may negatively influence the stock of the corporate exchange. The market goes for a spin as soon as the news of this incidence surfaces.

Aside from these financial losses are incurred in several other indirect ways.

  • Employee productivity declines.
  • If clients are conscious of harassment in your business, they are less likely to return for service or your product.
  • Personnel who have faced harassment tend to dissuade customers.

Affects Goodwill

It takes years to create a fresh image, and your company’s standing is and it can be often jeopardized by one sexual harassment incident. Research proves that one harassment incident can assert a nasty shadow on the company’s gender equality image.

It could affect the corporate much more compared to what a financial fraud will. Having a harassment plan in situ, alongside a trained Internal Committee (IC) to successfully manage the complaints, can help in simplifying the results.

Staff members can affect the circumstance, and therefore the accused could be punished, without the incident becoming a piece of news on social media or office network.

Affects Employees

The prevalence of harassment makes any office environment non-conducive for the female workforce. An unsuitable environment results in work dissatisfaction and absenteeism. Women who have experienced or are affected by sexual harassment within the workplace undergo debilitating stress reactions, including depression and stress. This dramatically impacts employee growth. a substantial amount of personnel quit their tasks on account of the prevalence of sexual harassment. Additionally, this disrupts the procedure as employers are unwilling to get into the businesses of selecting new staff members.

Non-Compliance of harassment Laws

Sexual harassment cases have a big effect on the organization and also the director’s reputation. They might typically face the wrath of a whole state or country for virtually any incidence of sexual harassment that happened under their premise since they can infer that the director could also be that the person who was supporting such activities.

As per Section 4 of this Act, every single company with ten or more staff need to compose an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). It is the responsibility of a manager to ensure that the organization complies with all the terms of regulation that are in effect from the PoSH law in the state. Any non-compliance on their part may lead to adverse outcomes.

Non-compliance with the law may usher in a financial penalty of Rs 50,000 which may go up to 25 lakhs or imprisonment or both. The definition of might lasts for therefore long as 3 years.

Once imprisoned for a minimum of 9 weeks, a director can’t go on to be a manager in any other firm for a period of 5 years.

Anti-Harassment Policies and Awareness Training

It’s required under the PoSH Act to conduct awareness coders for sensitizing the personnel with regard to the availability of the law and also the worker rights contrary to harassment.

  • An organisation must remember that it’s crucial to run training apps for the employees and also constitute the Internal Committee (ICC) and train them to stop the harassment.
  • Constitution of ICC- Any company with 10 or more employees has got to compose an ICC with an external agent who could be a legal expert.
  • This committee must be trustworthy for stopping and handling harassment cases within the corporate.
  • Drafting procedures – Internal Anti-Sexual Harassment policies got to get drafted and shared among workers of the corporate.
  • Reports- The Internal Committee (ICC) is in charge of resolving cases and also for reporting and maintaining records of harassment grievances obtained by the staff members.
  • Conducting awareness workshops- These workshops are essential for teaching the staff about the forms of sexual harassment.

Sexual Harassment of women/girls at the workplace has been alive for several years, right from the time women were emancipated and stepped out of the safety of their homes and tried to figure alongside men. This wasn’t easily accepted by the males who thought these women were available and free with their favours which they really belonged within the four walls of their homes and within the kitchen. The role of girls was essentially considered to be that of a procreator and homemaker. There was a change within the attitude of girls but no such change within the men. At the workplace, there have been no rules or guidelines specified on what constituted harassment and what the ladies could do about it. If a lady was harassed at the workplace, her course of redressal was to lodge a complaint under Section 354of the Indian legal code 1860, which addressed criminal assault of girls to outrage a woman’s modesty, and section 509 that punishes a private for using words, gestures or act intended to insult the modesty of any woman. However, the female employees have been hesitant to take such a drastic step because it could also backfire and they could end up losing  their jobs and reputation due to the simple reason that ours is a male-dominated society.

Vishaka v/s. State of Rajasthan

During the 1990s, a Rajasthan government employee, Bhanwari Devi (a Dalit woman ) who tried to stop child marriage, which was a requirement of her job as she was working in the Women’s Development Program, was gang-raped by the landlords of the Gujjar Community. These landlords were enraged and to show her a lesson that they had raped her. They maintained that she came from a lower caste community and that they were the feudal patriarchs of the said society and that she had no right to try anything or speak up against them or their community. The victim Bhanwari Devi didn’t get justice and therefore the landlords went scot-free. A woman’s rights group called Vishaka was enraged by the choice of the court and that they filed a PIL within the Supreme Court of India. This incident revealed the hazards and evils faced by women at the workplace on day to day basis and brought the cognisance of the Supreme Courts in the matter.

In 1997, the Supreme Court passed the landmark judgment within the above case and laid down guidelines to be implemented in cases of harassment at the Workplace, which were referred to as the “Vishaka Guidelines”. The Court felt that this was necessary to uphold the rights and dignity of girls/women and for gender equality and therefore the right to figure with dignity under Articles 14, 15, 19 (1)(G) and 21 of the Constitution and safeguard the interests of female at the workplace.

These Guidelines defined the precise meaning of sexual harassment and what acts constituted it for the first time. It specified the procedure for the victim and therefore the respondents, the punishment or penalty and therefore the employer’s obligations towards the cause, prevention and redressal.

POSH Act

However, there have been many lacunas within the guidelines. Many employees weren’t included within the employee list and the workplace wasn’t clearly defined. There was ambiguity and lots of organizations didn’t follow the Vishaka guidelines. Considering the importance of girls at the workplace and therefore the effects of harassment, India’s first legislation “Prevention of Sexual harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 was enacted. It had been enacted under the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Harassment created not only an insecure and hostile environment but also affected the woman’s productivity at work. It also affected their social/economic growth and put them through tons of physical and psychological stress. This Act was more specific than the Vishaka Guidelines and stated the precise meaning of sexual harassment, who is an employee?, what constitutes a workplace?, the role and responsibility of the company, the Internal Complaints Committee(ICC), complaint redressal processes and procedures, penalties, actions for preventing such cases by holding training sessions and workshops. It is mandatory for all organizations with 10 or more employees to line up an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). An action might be initiated in the case of non-compliance.

Despite the law being passed, there have been still many cases of sexual harassment and unfortunately, an outsized percentage of these cases go unreported. Despite the advances in society, many ladies weren’t reporting such cases due to the following reasons:

  • Even during this day and age, women don’t feel confident to complain about these issues especially just in case where the harasser happens to be the Boss himself or quite often a senior. This is due to the fear of losing their job and reputation;
  • They weren’t beyond what constitutes sexual harassment because the employer wasn’t taking this seriously and there have been no training and updates on the exact meaning of workplace harassment;
  • The employers had not formed the interior Complaints Committee or the workers weren’t updated and not conscious of whom to complain to or of the complaint and redressal procedures.

Repercussions for Not Complying with the PoSH Act

The PoSH Act mandates firm actions against those companies who are non-compliant with its provisions. If an employer fails to either constitute a Committee to address PoSH complaints or disregard any of the duties placed upon them under the act, they shall be punished with a fine of up to fifty thousand rupees (Rs. 50,000). if the company defaults on its role for a second time even after being penalised for one time, then they could be fined twice the amount earlier and in some cases, the license of the company could also be repealed. This will lead to the permanent closure of business and thus organisations should ensure that they comply with all the norms of PoSH law.

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