Ignorance is Bliss? NOT AT ALL!

If you are unaware of ‘‘POSH” (Prevention of sexual Harassment at workplace) and its implications on your company for non-compliance, then beware, you are inviting trouble to your doorstep!

A mammoth problem may hit you like a tsunami and its gigantic waves can destroy the reputation and good will established over the years!

Over the years, equal opportunities provided to girls have resulted in them being employed in various sectors in huge numbers. A safe workplace is a right of every worker and any compromises over this can lead to catastrophic consequences. It is quite infuriating and upsetting to go through data on women harassment at workplace which points out that at least 60% of them go through this horrifying experience!

It is not only an infringement of women’s fundamental rights but also a traumatizing experience that leaves a long-lasting negative impact! More than the physical discomfort, it generates metal agony!

“You can tell the condition of a nation by looking the status of its women”

-Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru-

POSH Act and Its Compliances

The POSH Act is applicable to every organizations, department, establishment and workplace, company employing 10 or more employees (full time, part time, interns or consultants included) irrespective of its location or nature of the industry.

What is sexual Harassment?

Sexual Harassment includes:

√ physical contact and advantage

√ a demand or request for sexual favors or

√ making sexually colored remarks or

√ showing pornography or

√ any other unwelcome physical , verbal or non verbal conduct of sexual nature.

Formation of Committee

The important feature of the Act is that it envisages the setting up of Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) at every office of the organization or institution, having more than 10 employees, to hear and redress complaints pertaining to sexual harassment.

Where the number of employees are less than 10, the Act provide for setting up of Local Committee (LC) in every district by the District Officer. The committee while inquiring into such complaint shall have the same power as vested in a civil court.

Duties of Employer

√ Provide a safe working environment

√ Display at the workplace, details of:

> the penal consequences of indulging in acts of sexual harassment

> composition of the ICC

> the grievance redressal mechanism available to aggrieved employees

√ Organize workshops and awareness programs for sensitizing employees

√ Organizing orientation programs for members of the ICC

√ Cooperate and assist during the course of the inquiry

√ Treat sexual harassment as misconduct under the service rules

√ Provide assistance to the aggrieved employee, should she choose to file a police complaint;

√ Initiate action under the IPC or such other applicable law

√ Ensure timely submission of reports to the District Officer

Who can file complaint?

An aggrieved woman may make written complaint of sexual harassment at workplace to ICC/LC

√ Within a period of three months from the date of the incident and

√ In case of series of such incidents, within a period of three months from the last incident.

However, any delay in filing the complaint can be condoned by the committee up to further three months.

In case of physical or mental incapability or death of the aggrieved woman, her legal heirs or such other person as described in Rule 6 of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules, 2013 (“the Rules”) may make a complaint.

Annual Report

It shall be the duty of the Committees to prepare an annual report and submit the same to the employer and the district officer in every calendar year.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs, through a Notification dated July 31, 2018, amended the Companies (Accounts) Rules 2014, in accordance with the request made by the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare.

By this amendment, it is now mandatory to disclose that the company has implemented the provisions of the Sexual Harassment Act.

It is now mandatory to make a statement in the Director’s Report that it has complied with the provisions regarding the constitution of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC).

Penalty Provisions

Non Compliance can cost an employer a monetary penalty to INR 50,000 on account of:

√ Failure to constitute Internal Complaints Committee

√ Failure to act upon recommendations of the Complaints Committee; or

√ Failure to file an annual report to the District Officer where required; or

√ Contravening or attempting to contravene or abetting contravention of the Act or Rules.

Where an employer repeats a breach under the Act, they shall be subject to:

√ Twice the punishment or higher punishment if prescribed under any other law for the same offence.

√ Cancellation/Withdrawal/Non-renewal of registration/license required for carrying on business or activities.

Hope the information will assist you in your Professional endeavors. In case of any query / information, please do not hesitate to write back to us at [email protected]

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Location: Delhi, New Delhi, IN
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May 2021