How to prevent harassment in the workplace Prevention of Sexual Harassment By CS Shiriti Kumari


Background and Provisions

The Act will ensure that women are protected against sexual harassment at all the work places, be it in public or private. This will contribute to realisation of their right to gender equality, life and liberty and equality in working conditions everywhere. The sense of security at the workplace will improve women's participation in work, resulting in their economic empowerment and inclusive growth.

The Act uses a definition of sexual harassment which was laid down by the Supreme Court of India in Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan (1997).Article 19 (1) g of the Indian Constitution affirms the right of all citizens to be employed in any profession of their choosing or to practice their own trade or business. Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan established that actions resulting in a violation of one's rights to ‘Gender Equality’ and ‘Life and Liberty’ are in fact a violation of the victim’s fundamental right under Article 19 (1) g. The case ruling establishes that sexual harassment violates a woman's rights in the workplace and is thus not just a matter of personal injury.

This case ruling had issued Vishaka guidelines under Article 32 of the Constitution of India. The Supreme Court had made it mandatory that these had to be followed by all originations until a legislative framework on the subject has been drawn-up and enacted.  However, the legislative void continued and the Supreme Court in Apparel Export Promotion Council v. A.K Chopra ((1999) 1 SCC 759) reiterated the law laid down in the Vishaka Judgment. Dr. Medha Kotwal of Aalochana (an NGO) highlighted a number of individual cases of sexual harassment stating that the Vishaka Guidelines were not being effectively implemented. Converting the letter into a writ petition, the Supreme Court took cognizance and undertook monitoring of implementation of the Vishaka Guidelines across the country. The Supreme Court asserted that in case of a non-compliance or non-adherence of the Vishaka Guidelines, it would be open to the aggrieved persons to approach the respective High Courts.

The legislative progress of the Act has been a lengthy one. The Bill was first introduced by women and child development minister Krishna Tirath in 2007 and approved by the Union Cabinet in January 2010. It was tabled in the Lok Sabha in December 2010 and referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resources Development. The committee's report was published on 30 November 2011.

In May 2012, the Union Cabinet approved an amendment to include domestic workers. The amended Bill was finally passed by the Lok Sabha on 3 September 2012.The Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha (the upper house of the Indian Parliament) on 26 February 2013.

It received the assent of the President of India and was published in the Gazette of India, Extraordinary, Part-II, Section-1, dated 23 April 2013 as Act No. 14 of 2013.
Major Features
  • The Act defines sexual harassment at the work place and creates a mechanism for redressal of complaints. It also provides safeguards against false or malicious charges.
  • The Act also covers concepts of 'quid pro quo harassment' and 'hostile work environment' as forms of sexual harassment if it occurs in connection with an act or behaviour of sexual harassment.
  • The definition of "aggrieved woman", who will get protection under the Act is extremely wide to cover all women, irrespective of her age or employment status, whether in the organised or unorganised sectors, public or private and covers clients, customers and domestic workers as well. 
  • An employer has been defined as any person who is responsible for management, supervision, and control of the workplace and includes persons who formulate and administer policies of such an organisation under Section 2(g). 
  • While the "workplace" in the Vishaka Guidelines is confined to the traditional office set-up where there is a clear employer-employee relationship, the Act goes much further to include organisations, department, office, branch unit etc. in the public and private sector, organized and unorganized, hospitals, nursing homes, educational institutions, sports institutes, stadiums, sports complex and any place visited by the employee during the course of employment including the transportation. Even non-traditional workplaces which involve tele-commuting will get covered under this law.
  • The Committee is required to complete the inquiry within a time period of 90 days. On completion of the inquiry, the report will be sent to the employer or the District Officer, as the case may be, they are mandated to take action on the report within 60 days. 
  • Every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee at each office or branch with 10 or more employees. The District Officer is required to constitute a Local Complaints Committee at each district, and if required at the block level.
  • The Complaints Committees have the powers of civil courts for gathering evidence.
  • The Complaints Committees are required to provide for conciliation before initiating an inquiry, if requested by the complainant.
  • The inquiry process under the Act should be confidential and the Act lays down a penalty of Rs 5000 on the person who has breached confidentiality.
  • The Act requires employers to conduct education and sensitisation programmes and develop policies against sexual harassment, among other obligations.
  • Penalties have been prescribed for employers. Non-compliance with the provisions of the Act shall be punishable with a fine of up to ? 50,000. Repeated violations may lead to higher penalties and cancellation of licence or deregistration to conduct business.
  • Government can order an officer to inspect workplace and records related to sexual harassment in any organisation.
  • Under the Act, which also covers students in schools and colleges as well as patients in hospitals, employers and local authorities will have to set up grievance committees to investigate all complaints. Employers who fail to comply will be punished with a fine of up to 50,000 rupees.

The sexual harassment of women at workplace Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal Act 2013
https://www.compliancecalendar.in/resources/1579858553Sexual-Harassment-at-Workplace-Act.pdf

Sexual Harassment Of Women At Workplace Prevention, Prohibition, And Redressal Rules 2013
https://www.compliancecalendar.in/resources/1580376566Sexual-Harassment-of-Women-...-Rules-2013.pdf

Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013

 

Citation

Act No 14 of 2013

Territorial extent

Whole of India

Enacted by

Parliament of India

Enacted

3 Sep 2012 & 11 Mar 2015 (Lok Sabha)

 

26 Feb 2013 (Rajya Sabha)

Assented to

22-Apr-13

Commenced

09-Dec-13

Legislative history

 

Bill

Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2012

Bill citation

Bill No 144-C of 2010

Bill published on

07-Dec-10

Committee report

Standing Committee Report

 
The PoSH (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013, superseding the Vishakha Guidelines came into effect from 9th December 2013. The Act incited organizations having ten or more employee strength to set up an IC (Internal Committee) to fulfil the requirements of the Act.

It’s only from 2014 that the companies in India started considering the PoSH Act sincerely. It’s been around half a decade of the mandate now. However, only handful of organizations have made the efforts to comply with the statutory requirements. With this piece of writing my attempt is to highlight the extended requirements of compliance under the Act and the risks attached to the non-compliance. The Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 has been enacted to protect women and safeguard her rights at workplace.

“Sexual Harassment” includes any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behavior (whether directly or by implication) namely:—
  1. Physical contact and advances; or
  2. A demand or request for sexual favours; or
  3. Making sexually coloured remarks; or
  4. Showing pornography; or
  5. Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature;
“workplace” includes—

(i) any department, organisation, undertaking, establishment, enterprise, institution, office, branch or unit which is established, owned, controlled or wholly or substantially financed by funds provided directly or indirectly by the appropriate Government or the local authority or a Government company or a corporation or a co-operative society;

(ii) any private sector organisation or a private venture, undertaking, enterprise, institution, establishment, society, trust, non-governmental organisation, unit or service provider carrying on commercial, professional, vocational, educational, entertainmental, industrial, health services or financial activities including production, supply, sale, distribution or service;

(iii) hospitals or nursing homes;

(iv) any sports institute, stadium, sports complex or competition or games venue, whether residential or not used for training, sports or other activities relating thereto;

(v) any place visited by the employee arising out of or during the course of employment including transportation by the employer for undertaking such journey;

(vi) a dwelling place or a house;

unorganised sector” in relation to a workplace means an enterprise owned by individuals or self-employed workers and engaged in the production or sale of goods or providing service of any kind whatsoever, and where the enterprise employs workers, the number of such workers is less than ten.
APPLICABILITY OF POSH ACT
  • Whole of India;
  • All Employer or organization employing 10 or more employees (irrespective of their Gender).
  • Workers or Employees;
  • Every workplace, establishment, company, and organization, inclusive of MNCs, firms, shops, restaurants, etc.
  • A member of the Establishment;
  • An outsider against a member of the Establishment
  • A member of the Establishment against an outsider
  • Under the policy of the Organization if any;

Here Employees Includes:
  • Person employed at a workplace for any work on regular, temporary, ad hoc or daily wage basis, either directly or through an agent;
  • A contractor, with or, without the knowledge of the principal employer whether for remuneration or not or working on a voluntary basis or otherwise, whether the terms of employment are express or implied;
  • And includes a co-worker,
  • A contract worker,
  • Probationer,
  • Trainee,
  • Apprentice or called by any other such name
Here Member means an employee of the Establishment and includes any member of the management.

Outsider means any person who is not a member of the Establishment and includes customer, client, creditor, debtor or other.

Sexual Harassment results in violation of the fundamental rights of a woman to equality under articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India and her right to life and to live with dignity under article 21 of the Constitution and right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business with includes a right to a safe environment free from sexual harassment.

The protection against sexual harassment and the right to work with dignity are universally recognised human rights by international conventions and instruments such as Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, which has been ratified on the 25th June, 1993 by the Government of India;

The Act mandates all the workplace having more than 10 workers to constitute Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) for receiving complaints of sexual harassment. Similarly, the Appropriate Government is authorized to constitute Local Complaint Committee (LCC) in every district, which will receive complaints from organizations having less than 10 workers or if the complaint is against the employer himself.

Note: If the employees are less than 10 then no requirement of ICC then LCC is required.

What all is required to be posh compliant?
  • PoSH policy
  • Sensitisation of all employees
  • Formation of Internal Committee (IC)
  • Training of IC on Investigation
  • Procedure
  • External Member who ensures
  • fairness
  • Filing of the Annual Report

  Timelines

Submission Complaint

Within 3 months of the last incident

Notice to the Respondent

Within 7 days of receiving copy of the complaint

Completion inquiry

Within 90days of completion of the inquiry

Implementationof recommendations

Within 60 days

Appeal within 90 days of the recommendations

 
During the pendency of enquiry, upon written request by the aggrieved employee:
  • Transfer the aggrieved woman of the respondent to any other workplace;
  • Grant leave to the aggrieved woman up to a period of three months.
 MANDATORY REPORTING UNDER DIRECTORS REPORT OF COMPANIES ACT 2013 UNDER SECTION 134:
  • Disclosure of compliance under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act in the Annual Reports of Private companies now made Mandatory under Companies (Accounts) Rules, 2014 Vide its *notification dated 31.07.2018.
  • It may be noted that Section-134 of the Companies Act, 2013 provides the disclosure framework which the Directors of every company are required to comply with in the Annual Reports.
Clause (x) -“A statement that the Company has complied with provisions relating to the constitution of Internal Complaints Committee under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013”:
  • This section also includes the penal provisions for non-disclosure.
  • The inclusion of the compliance under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act in the non-financial disclosures will ensure that the issue gets into the focus into Board of Directors of the companies
  • As per the introduction of above-stated clause (x) under Rule 8 (5) now mandates all companies to report on compliance of provisions of Sexual Harassment Act relating to the constitution of Internal Complaints Committee.
  • The non-compliance by a Company may result in imposition of a fine on the defaulting company under section 134 of the Act, which shall not be less than INR 50,000/- but which may extend to INR 25,00,000/- and imprisonment for every officer of the Company who is in default for a term which may extend to 3 years or with fine in the range of INR 50,000/- to INR 5,00,000/-.
Companies (Accounts) Rules, 2014

Basic Difference between IC &LC


Internal Committee

Local Committee

Where more than 10 workers

Where less than 10 workers

constituted under section 4;

constituted under section 6;

By Employer

By Every District Officer

 
FORMATION OF INTERNAL COMPLAINT COMMITTEE

Under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, all companies are required to constitute an Internal Compliant Committee at a workplace by an order in writing.

Note: Where the offices or administrative units of the workplace are located at different places or divisional or sub-divisional level. The Internal Committee must be constituted at all administrative units or offices.

The Internal Committee shall consist of the following members, nominated by the employer:
  • A Presiding Officer who shall be a woman employed at a senior level at workplace from amongst the employees.
Note:
1. Provided that in case a senior level woman employee is not available, the Presiding Officer shall be nominated from other offices or administrative units of the workplace referred to in sub-section(1):

2. Provided further that in case the other offices or administrative units of the workplace do not have a senior level woman employee, the Presiding Officer shall be nominated from any other workplace of the same employer or other department or organization;
  • Minimum 2 Members from amongst employees who are committed to the cause of women or who have experience in social work.
  • One member from amongst NGOs or associations committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment.
Note: Provided that at least one-half of the total Members so nominated shall be women.
  • The Presiding Officer and every Member of the Internal Committee can hold office for a period not exceeding three years, from the date of their nomination as may be specified by the employer.
PROCEDURE TO COMPLAINT OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

1) Any aggrieved woman may make, in writing, a complaint of sexual harassment at workplace to the Internal Committee if so constituted, or the Local Committee,

In case it is not so constituted, within a period of three months from the date of incident and

In case of a series of incidents, within a period of three months from the date of last incident:

Provided that where such complaint cannot be made in writing, the Presiding Officer or any Member of the Internal Committee or the Chairperson or any Member of the Local Committee, as the case may be, shall render all reasonable assistance to the woman for making the complaint in writing:

Provided further that the Internal Committee or, as the case may be, the Local Committee may, for the reasons to be recorded in writing, extend the time limit not exceeding three months , if it is satisfied that the circumstances were such which prevented the woman from filing a complaint within the said period.

Important Note: Where the aggrieved woman is unable to make a complaint on account of her physical or mental incapacity or death or otherwise, her legal heir or such other person as may be prescribed may make a complaint under this section
 
DUTIES OF EMPLOYER

Shall provide:
  1. A safe working environment at the workplace with shall include safety from the persons coming into contact at the workplace;
  2. Display at any conspicuous place in the workplace, the penal consequences of sexual harassments; and the order constituting, the Internal Committee under sub-section (1) of section 4;
  3. Organise workshops and awareness programmes at regular intervals for sensitising the employees with the provisions of the Act and orientation programmes for the members of the Internal Committee in the manner as may be prescribed;
  4. Provide necessary facilities to the Internal Committee or the Local Committee, as the case may be, for dealing with the complaint and conducting an inquiry;
  5. Assist in securing the attendance of respondent and witnesses before the Internal Committee or the Local Committee, as the case may be;
  6. Make available such information to the Internal Committee or the Local Committee, as the case be, as it may require having regard to the complaint made under sub-section (1) of section 9;
  7. Provide assistance to the woman if she so chooses to file a complaint in relation to the offence under the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) or any other law for the time being in force;
  8. Cause to initiate action, under the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) or any other law for the time being in force, against the perpetrator, or if the aggrieved woman so desires, where the perpetrator is not an employee, in the workplace at which the incident of sexual harassment took place;
  9. Treat sexual harassment as a misconduct under the service rules and initiate action for such misconduct;
  10. Monitor the timely submission of reports by the Internal Committee.
COMPLIANCE AND RETURN UNDER POSH ACT

Annual Report of the Internal Complaints Committee under Section 21 of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013

As per Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act, 2013, there are 2 reports to be submitted by the employer.
  1. It is the duty of the ICC to submit an annual report, which includes the number of cases filed/disposed of every calendar year to the employer and district office.
  2. The employer has a statutory obligation to ensure this report (POSH) is included in the annual report under section 134 of the Companies Act 2013 of the organization filed to the Registrar of companies (ROC).
DETAILS OR INFORMATION REQUIRED
  • No. of complaints of sexual harassment received in the year
  • Complaints disposed off during the year
  • No. of cases pending for more than 90 days
  • No. of workshops / awareness programs carried out
  • Nature of action taken by Employer / District Officer
DUE DATES OF FILING RETURNS

The Internal Committee shall prepare and File their Annual Report for the Calendar Year 2019 as prescribed under Section-21 of the "Sexual Harassment of Woman at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Act 2013.

This Mandatory Report shall be Filed before District Officer notified under Section-5 of the said Act.

Due date on or before: 31/01/2020 (within 30 days from closing of year 31st December, 2019)

“Deputy Commissioner is the District Officer”

A copy of the IC Annual Report shall be forwarded to the Employer/Head of Institution to enable the Employer/Head of Institution (of Company Regd under the Companies Act) to incorporate the said IC Annual Report in the Company's Annual Report filed before the ROC (Registrar of Companies).

ROLE OF DISTRICT OFFICER
  • Monitor the timely submission of report furnished by the Local Committee;
  • Take such measures as may be necessary for engaging non-governmental organisations for creation of awareness on sexual harassment and the rights of the women
Who is here DISTRICT OFFICER?

“District Officer” means on officer notified under section 5;
The appropriate Government may notify a District Magistrate or Additional District Magistrate or the Collector or Deputy Collector as a District Officer for every District to exercise powers or discharge functions under this Act.
 
FAQs


What is an IC?

An IC, as the name suggests, is an internal committee of a workplace to receive and redress complaints of sexual harassment. It is required to consist of a minimum of four members:
  1. A Presiding Officer who has to be a woman employed at a senior level at workplace. She has to be from amongst the employees.
  2. Two Members from amongst employees. The law says that for these two members, employers should prefer to have employees who are committed to the cause of women or who have had experience in social work or have legal knowledge.
  3. One Member from amongst non-governmental organisations or associations committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment (“External Member”).
The law also states that at least half of the total Members of the IC should be women.

Who can be an External Member?

Anyone from amongst NGOs or associations that are committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment.

Is there any fee for the External Member?

Yes, the External Member appointed from amongst the NGOs or associations is entitled to an allowance by the employer, of Rs. 200 per day for holding the proceedings of the IC and also the reimbursement of travel cost.

How to constitute an IC?

Every employer of a workplace has to constitute an IC by an order in writing.

Is there a term for the IC?

Yes, all the IC members can hold office for three years.

Can an IC member be removed before completion of the term?

Yes, the law provides for certain situations in which an IC member can be removed from the IC before completion of the term. The vacancy has to be refilled in accordance with provisions of the law.

Are there any specific duties for an employer under law?

Yes. The law has provided for several duties of an employer. Some of them are:
  • Provide a safe working environment at workplace which includes safety from persons coming into contact at workplace.
  • Display at any conspicuous place in the workplace, the penal consequences of sexual harassment and the order constituting the Internal Committee (“IC“).
  • Formulate and widely disseminate an internal policy for prohibition, prevention and redressal of sexual harassment.
  • Declare the names and contact details of all the members of IC.
  • Organize workshops and awareness programs at regular intervals for sensitizing employees.
  • Organize orientation programs for IC members.
  • Conduct capacity building and skill building programs for IC members.
  • Carry out employees awareness programs and create forum for dialogue.
  • Use modules developed by State Government to conduct workshops and awareness programs.
You can read through to understand how you can comply with these duties. Needless to say, we are there to help you at each stage, if required.
 
What happens if I do not fulfil the duties prescribed under law?

If you do not constitute the IC and fulfil the rest of the duties enshrined under the Act, there can be a penalty under the law which may extend to Rs. 50,000. In case of not fulfilling the duties repeatedly, the penalty can be doubled and in cases where one is required to obtain a license to do business, such license may be cancelled or an application for registration or renewal may be withdrawn and cancelled.
 
What are the preventive steps I can take as an employer?

You can:
  • Organize regular training programs for your IC members so that they are fully up to date on the law and the procedure.
  • Organize awareness programs for employees on a time to time basis to keep them informed of their rights and duties and what may constitute sexual harassment.
  • Organize sessions for management so that they can comply with the law effectively and take measures to prevent instances of sexual harassment and create a healthy work atmosphere.
  • Have orientation programs for new joinees to inform them of your beliefs and policy.
  • Have gender sensitization programs to instil the feeling of equality at workplace. This can go a long way in showing that you are an equal opportunity employer.
  • Ensure that your IC meets on a regular basis to discuss issues and keep themselves updated.
  • Provide your IC with all the facilities they require.
Can I share details of a complaint on the POSH at Work website?

No. We request you not to display / share details of any matter of sexual harassment or the identities of the concerned persons, as this is a public forum.

The law provides that any information related to a matter of sexual harassment cannot be published, communicated or made known to the public, press or media in any manner.
 
Can I ask for legal advice from POSH at Work?

Yes. You can drop your query or ask for a lawyer here. We will be more than happy to help you.
 
What is an IC?

An Internal Committee (“IC“), as the name suggests, is an internal committee of a workplace to look into and redress complaints of sexual harassment. Every employer that has 10 or more employees, must constitute an IC.
 
I have 10 employees, do I need to have an IC?

Yes
 
I have 10 employees, none of whom are women, do I still need to have an IC?

Yes
 
What does an IC consist of?

An IC consists of a minimum of four members:
  1. A Presiding Officer who has to be a woman employed at a senior level at workplace. She has to be from amongst the employees.
  2. Two Members from amongst employees. The law says that for these two members, employers should prefer to have employees who are committed to the cause of women or who have had experience in social work or have legal knowledge.
  3. One Member from amongst non-governmental organisations or associations committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment (“External Member”).
The law also states that at least half of the total Members of the IC should be women.
 
Who can be an External Member?

Anyone from amongst NGOs or associations that are committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment.
 
Is there any fee for the External Member?

Yes, the External Member appointed from amongst the NGOs or associations is entitled to an allowance by the employer, of Rs. 200 per day for holding the proceedings of the IC and also the reimbursement of travel cost.
 
Is it mandatory to have an external member?

Yes. A third party independent member is a must.
 
How to constitute an IC?

Every employer of a workplace has to constitute an IC by an order in writing.
 
Is there a term for the IC?

Yes, all the IC members can hold office for three years.  
 
Can an IC member be removed before completion of the term?

Yes, the law provides for certain situations in which an IC member can be removed from the IC before completion of the term. The vacancy has to be refilled in accordance with provisions of the law.
 
Is IC required to follow a procedure for hearing a complaint?

Yes. The law has provided for a procedure.
 
The IC of my organization is not familiar with the procedure under law, what can I do?

You can train your IC on how to handle complaints.
 
How can IC members handle complaints?
IC members have to be regularly trained on the law and how they should handle complaints of sexual harassment i.e. how they can help the aggrieved woman file a complaint, how they can make her feel better, how to inform the alleged harasser, how to conduct the inquiry etc.
 
Is it mandatory to conduct training for IC?
Yes
 
Am I required to create awareness about prevention of sexual harassment amongst my employees?
Yes
 
How will training/workshop/seminar/awareness program help?
  • These kind of sessions will ensure that your employees are aware of their rights as well as responsibilities.
  • It will also show that you have taken actual steps to prevent instances of sexual harassment.
  • It will help your IC deal with complaints in a much better manner.
  • It will instil faith of the employees in the organization.
  • It will create gender sensitive work environment.
  • If conducted in a manner not to scare employees to work with the opposite gender but to work in a healthy environment respecting the equal right of each other to work in that environment, would lead to positivity and work productivity.
How will I know that the training/workshop/seminar/awareness program was effective?

We have several ways to ensure that the sessions are effective. If you have any queries to seek to discuss this in detail, please contact us.
 
Is it mandatory to conduct training for IC?

Yes
 
The IC of my organization is not familiar with the procedure under law, what can I do?

You can train your IC on how to handle complaints.
 
How can IC members handle complaints?

IC members have to be regularly trained on the law and how they should handle complaints of sexual harassment i.e. how they can help the aggrieved woman file a complaint, how they can make her feel better, how to inform the alleged harasser, how to conduct the inquiry etc.
 
Is it mandatory for me to have a policy against sexual harassment?

Yes
 
How can I inform my employees about the policy?

You can inform your employees by the following:
  • Circulate the policy to your employees on email
  • Publish it on the website or intra-net
  • Display posters at conspicuous places in the workplace
The additional benefit of displaying posters is that not only the employees but also the visitors shall be made aware of the policy. This could prevent unwanted behaviour from visitors.
 
Is it mandatory for me to display a poster in my organization?

The law has prescribed for the following duties of the employer –
  • Provide a safe working environment at workplace which includes safety from persons coming into contact at workplace.
  • Display at any conspicuous place in the workplace, the penal consequences of sexual harassment and the order constituting the IC.
  • Formulate and widely disseminate an internal policy for prohibition, prevention and redressal of sexual harassment.
  • Declare the names and contact details of all the members of IC.
Posters can be the best way to comply with the above provisions of law, especially given the visual impact that posters can create in the minds of employees as well as visitors. These can go a long way in instilling faith of the employees in the organization, preventing instances of sexual harassment and creating a safer work environment.
In fact, we have posters in all Indian languages to ensure that your message reaches all stakeholders, in whichever language they understand. You can request for a poster from here.
 
My employees do not understand English, what do I do?

We have posters in all Indian languages. You can also suggest us any other details you want, such as, size of the poster, colour combination etc. You can choose the language you want your poster in here.
 
Is it possible to have my organization’s logo on the poster?

Yes. You can also suggest us any other details you want, such as, size of the poster, colour combination etc. You can upload your logo and request for your poster here.
 
Are there any samples?

Yes. Please contact us if you wish to see samples.
 
How do I pay for the posters?

We have options such as bank transfer, cash on delivery and online payment. Kindly let us know whichever is suitable for you.
 
Dear Experts, Please help me out, if in company manpower strength is above 10 but no female worker is employed in company premises.

Is POSH Act is applicable?

Annual return under the Act required to be submitted?

Yes, all the Provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Act 2013 applies to your Employer/Establishment. There is No Exemption, whatsoever; and
The POSH Act is not clear on this issue. As per the Act minimum two female employees shall be the part of ICC (Internal Complaint Committee), one presiding officer and another normal member, this is mandatory but where there is only one female employee how it can be meeted?
 
 
FORMAT OF POSH RETURN

Annual Report of the Internal Complaints Committee under
Section 21 of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace
(Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
For the year ended 31st December, 2019
 
Date:-------------------

To,
District Officer/Commissioner of Labour,

-----------------------------

Dear Sir,

Re: Annual Return under Sexual Harassment of women at workplace (prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013 for the year ended 31st December, 2019
 
During the calendar year 2019, the Internal Complaints Committee of _______________ Private Limited reports the following details:
  • of complaints of sexual harassment received in the year: NIL
  • Complaints disposed off during the year: NIL
  • of cases pending for more than 90 days: NIL
  • of workshops / awareness programs carried out: <>
  • Nature of action taken by Employer / District Officer: NA
 
Yours Sincerely,
 
 
<>
(Presiding Officer, Internal Complaints Committee)
Date:

SAMPLE OF POLICY
POLICY AGAINST SEXUAL HARASSMENT
IN

XXXX

1.1 Preamble

Sexual harassment is a violation of human rights and an infringement on life, liberty and security of persons as defined by Constitution of India. The Supreme Court of India in its landmark judgment in Vishaka & others Vs the State of Rajasthan and others, 1997, held that “every instance of sexual harassment is violation of fundamental rights under Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India, and amounts to violation of right to freedom as contemplated in Article 19(1)(g). In a similar judgment in 1999 (Apparel Export Promotion Council Vs Chopra) the Apex Court had declared that sexual harassment “ is a violation of fundamental right to gender equality and right to life and liberty” and as such it required no compromise in the efforts to bring down such violations. According to the Supreme Court, sexual harassment includes any unwelcome physical contact or advances; demands or requests for sexual favours; sexually-coloured remarks; displays of pornography; other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature. Following the observations of these judgments, an Act called the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 was passed making it obligatory for every employer to have an Internal Complaints Committee with a view to preventing, prohibiting and redressing the act of sexual harassment at workplace. 

1.2 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
           It follows the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations supplemented by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which are approved by India although with some provisos. Therefore, these two treaties form the base for us to frame a policy on elimination of sexual harassment at workplace.
 
1.3   Scope of Policy against Sexual Harassment in XXXX
 
        XXXX, hereafter referred to as the Establishment, having its registered office in …….. …., ……….., is an industrial and commercial establishment in which around ……. employees work. The employees include both men and women at different proportions in different departments. The scope of the activities include manufacturing ………….., sales and marketing of manufactured products through various distributors/ dealers spread all over India and administrative activities. Manufacturing is carried out at factories …………………. Administrative Head Office at ……………and branch offices at …………………. control the operations of the respective areas.
The scope of this Policy covers the entire operations throughout India.

1.4   Objectives of the Policy in XXXX

1.4.1   It follows the directive of the Supreme Court of India and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, to develop and implement a policy against Sexual Harassment at workplace.
1.4.2  It aims at a permanent mechanism for prevention of and redressal of sexual harassment at the Establishment
1.4.3   It aims at creating an environment free from sexual harassment and other acts of gender related violence at the Establishment.
1.4.4  It aims at building up of awareness among the employees and others who deal with the Establishment including the general public.

1.5     Applicability

The Policy is applicable to all sexual harassment taken place at the workplace of the Establishment and made by
  • a member of the Establishment against another member of the Establishment notwithstanding the fact whether the act of sexual harassment has taken place at the work place of the Establishment or outside the workplace of the Establishment or extension thereon.
  • an outsider against a member of the Establishment
          Provided that no disciplinary action as formulated under the Policy shall be initiated on a sexual harassment taken place outside the workplace of the Establishment in which a member is the accused.
          Provided further that the management of the Establishment is committed to provide all assistance to any inquiry relating to any incident of sexual harassment taken place outside the workplace of the Establishment in which a member of the Establishment is the accused.
  • a member of the Establishment against an outsider
           Provided that no disciplinary action as formulated under the Policy shall be initiated on a sexual harassment taken place outside the workplace of the Establishment in which a member is the aggrieved.     
           Provided further that the management of the Establishment is committed to provide all assistance to any inquiry relating any incident of sexual harassment taken place outside the workplace of the Establishment in which a member is the aggrieved.
 
2. Definition

2.1. Sexual Harassment. Sexual Harassment means unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature or other sex based conduct affecting the dignity of men and women at work place, or during official duty hours outside the workplace or extension thereof, and includes,

(a)  physical contact and advances,
(b) demands or requests for sexual favours,
(c)  sexually coloured remarks,
(d) showing pornography,
(e) any other unwelcome physical, verbal or nonverbal conduct of sexual nature including sending messages through internet and cellular phone,
(f) any discrimination on the basis of gender for recruitment and selection, transfer, promotion, pay fixation, appraisal and other of any member of the Establishment.
 
2.2      Member  means an employee of the Establishment and includes any member of the management within the meaning of Standing Orders and HR Policies and Procedures of XXXX.

Provided that an employee engaged through a contractor shall be a member within the meaning of the Policy.

2.3      Outsider means any person who is not a member of the Establishment and includes customer, client, creditor, debtor or other.
2.4      Committee means Internal Complaints Committee formed under this policy for redressal of matters connected with sexual harassment.
2.5      Policy means the Policy against Sexual Harassment implemented at XXXX.
2.6      Disciplinary Authority means the person or persons who is/ are responsible for award   of punishment as recommended by the Committee.
Provided that unless otherwise specified in writing the Managing Director of the Establishment shall be the Disciplinary Authority under the Policy.
2.7      Notice means a notice in writing required to be given for summoning any party to the enquiry under the Policy.
2.8      For any other term for which no separate definition is given, the definition given under respective law in force and the Standing Orders and HR Policies and Procedures of XXXX will apply.
    • Constitution of Internal Complaints Committee. With a view to redressing grievances on sexual harassment, an Internal Complaints Committee, hereafter referred to as Committee, will be formed. The committee will comprise of the Chairperson, four members of the Establishment and at least one person nominated from outside who shall be a known personality in the field of women issues.
Provided that the Chairperson and not less than 50% of the members of the Committee shall be women.
  • Entity of Committee. The committee shall be empowered to carry out the mandate of the Policy.
  • Powers of Committee. The committee shall have both protective as well as corrective powers. The former will form part of the duties of the Committee to protect rights of members and others at the Establishment whereas the latter form part of implementation of enquiry in case violation of human rights or sexual harassment is reported. As such, the Committee is expected to:
  • ensure an environment free from sexual harassment and human rights violation
  • ensure an atmosphere wherein the members do not find any gender discrimination
  • to publicise the Policy among all members and others who deal with the Establishment
  • to arrange programmes spreading awareness of the consequences of sexual harassment and violation of human rights
  • to ensure that no member or outsider is coerced, illtreated, victimized, intimidated, distorted or manhandled for having lodged a complaint under the Policy.
The Committee is expected to provide for a sound mechanism for redressal of grievances by:
  • accepting and registering in due time the complaints
  • conducting of enquiry and recommending to the Disciplinary Authority the award of punishment to the culprit.
  • arranging medical, psychological, emotional help to the victim, if found necessary
  • seeking police or legal intervention wherever necessary
  • keeping the entire proceedings confidential if the victim so desires.
4 Quorum of Committee.
  •  4.1 The quorum of the Committee shall be two- third of the    membership.
Provided that no quorum is deemed to have if the member of the Committee nominated from outside the Establishment is not present in person.

3.4.2 Proxying is not allowed in the Committee unless otherwise communicated in writing by the Disciplinary Authority in this regard.       
  1. Procedure
4.1 Any compliant under this Policy shall be brought by the complainant in person.
Provided that a complaint from another person shall be registered if the Committee finds that the victim has been   under captivity.

Provided further that no complaint shall be registered unless the Committee is satisfied after meeting the actual victim that the victim wishes to lodge a formal complaint.

4.2 A complainant may be accompanied by a helper who may be a member of the Establishment.
Provided that no legal practioner shall be allowed to accompany complainant in any proceeding in which such legal practioner is not a party either as member or outsider.

Provided further that a complainant may be accompanied by a legal practioner if the opposite party to the enquiry so permits in writing to the Committee.

4.3 Soon after registering a complaint, the Chairperson shall issue notice to the parties    to the enquiry calling on them to appear before the Committee on the date specified therein.
 
Provided that no notice shall be issued calling on either party to appear for hearing on a date earlier than three days from the date of notice.
  • If the Committee so desires, both parties can be heard separately.
  • If the complainant is a third party and the aggrieved is not willing for a personal appearance before the Committee due to any personal reason, the Committee shall proceed with enquiry on the basis of prima facie evidence.
  • The Committee after hearing the complainant shall issue charge sheet to the accused calling on him/ her to defend the charges within a date not later than seven days.
  • The Committee shall record the entire process of hearing duly signed by the parties to the enquiry as token of their acceptance to the record.
  • If the Committee so desires, the Committee shall summon, by sending notice in the same manner as per clause 4.3 of the Policy any member, outsider or other to appear before the Committee to give witness.
  • The Committee after careful trial shall recommend to the Disciplinary Authority the disciplinary action which the Committee thinks fit and as provided in clause 5 of the Policy.
  • The Committee is expected to complete the entire course of hearing within thirty days of complaint.
5. Disciplinary Action
 
The Disciplinary action shall commensurate with nature of harassment or violation of human right.
If any member is found guilty the following punishment shall be awarded. 
  • Warning
  • Written apology
  • Reduction to lower grade
  • Reduction of Increment
  • Demotion
  • Stoppage of Promotion for two years or more depending upon the gravity of case
  • Reassignment of duties including debarring from supervisory duties
  • Accepting Bond of Good Behaviour.
  • Discharge
      • The decision of the Disciplinary Authority shall be communicated to the accused in writing.
    • In case an outsider is involved as accused, the Disciplinary Authority shall initiate action by making complaint with the appropriate authority.
  • Review of working of the Committee
With a view to reviewing the working of the Committee the Disciplinary Authority shall convene meetings at regular intervals as it thinks fit which shall be attended by the members or selected members of the Establishment in such a way that representation from each department/ division of the Establishment shall be equal, the members of the Committee and other stakeholders.
 
7       Miscellaneous.

7.1     The Policy or any clause of the Policy shall be amended if it is found necessary.
7.2   The Policy is purely internal in nature and as such cognizance of any authority under any statute is always protected.

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