POSH Policy – An Overview:
A POSH Policy is used to inform employees and other staff members of the POSH Act (The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace, Act 2013). The goal of this Policy is to provide every employee with a safe and secure workplace that is free of sexual harassment.
The policy applies to all employees and business partners, including current and future customers, shareholders, vendors, professionals, and others.
In addition, the Prevention Of Sexual Harassment Policy aims to safeguard its female workers wherever they go while working for the organization, including on any company-provided transportation.
Mandatory Steps Towards Posh Compliance
Step 1: Draft an organizational POSH POLICY
The organization should draft a detailed POSH Policy in compliance with the POSH Act, 2013, outlining the procedures and actions needed to adopt POSH in the workplace. The Prevention Of Sexual Harassment Policy should consider the following:
- Scope and Objective: The individuals covered by the POSH Policy are listed in this clause. The policy is typically written in accordance with the POSH Act’s rules and applies to all employees within the organization.
- Definitions: The definition of the terms used in the policy may change according to the structure. To name a few, the definition clause is required to include specific definitions of sexual harassment, aggrieved women/complainants, responsive employees, employers, workplaces, and internal committees.
- Roles and Responsibilities: This clause enumerates the roles and responsibilities of employees and employers. This includes the do’s and don’ts related to prevention of the start of, or involvement in, any behavior that constitutes sexual harassment; empowering the individual to reject and speak out against any inappropriate behavior; assisting in the investigation’s quick conclusion or making a sexual harassment complaint in the best way feasible.
- Internal committee: This clause will specify the formation of an internal committee with the contact details of its members, functions, and grounds for disqualification of the members.
- Redressal Mechanism: The redressal mechanism will include the procedure for filing a complaint with the internal committee, conciliation procedure, inquiry procedure, interim relief, the timeline for the completion of the inquiry, ex-parte order or termination of proceedings.
- Penalties: This clause will specify the quantum of penalties for the non-compliance or commission of an offence.
- Confidentiality: This provision specifies that the parties and the proceedings’ information should be regarded as secret and shall not be divulged to third parties.
Step 2: Employment Contract that Reflects POSH Policy
The business’s commitment to ensuring a safe workplace and the disciplinary or legal proceedings an employee would face when they breach the POSH organizational policies should be included in the offer letter and employment agreement, respectively.
Step 3: Internal Committee (IC)
1- Purpose of Internal Committee
The IC oversees handling and resolving sexual harassment claims. The IC is a judicial body which shall be established wherein 10 or more employees are employed. An IC must be established by written instruction from the employer. For instance, a written order for the constitution of an IC should be approved as a Board Resolution if the organization is a private limited company.
2- Formulation of Internal Committee
The IC is comprised of the following members:
- Presiding Officer: There should be a presiding officer who will be a senior-level female and the chairperson.
- Employee Members: Two or more members shall represent the IC form the employees in the organization.
- External Member: An external member of the IC who is unrelated to the organization, except an external member, is required.
3- What is the role of an External Member?
The external member will have the responsibilities like drafting the Minutes of the IC Meetings, participating in the regular activities with the IC members and providing professional advice on the implementation of the POSH Policy and shall have an impartial role in handling and supervising the complaints of Sexual Harassment.
4- Responsibilities of Internal Committee?
The following are the major responsibilities of the IC:
- Organize training and awareness campaigns (in a classroom or online) on a regular basis.
- To strive to provide a courteous and secure working environment.
- To create the organization’s sexual harassment policy.
- To conduct meeting with the IC whenever a written complaint is received from a female employee; to resolve the grievance; and to ensure that in any cases of misbehavior or sexual harassment, the victim receives the proper compensation.
5- Disqualification of an Internal Committee Member?
The following are the grounds for disqualification for the IC Member.
- If any disciplinary action is taken against the IC Member.
- The IC Member has been found guilty of breaking any law or is the subject of an investigation.
- The IC Member divulges information that the POSH legislation considers to be confidential, including information about harassment allegations, the identity of the complainant, the respondent, or witnesses, specifics of the inquiry’s processes, the IC’s recommendations, or the employer’s response.
6- Legal Implications when Internal Committee is not formed.
The following are the legal implications if IC is not formed:
- Cancellation or non-renewal of business license.
- Double penalty in cases of repeat offences.
- Penalty extending up to Rs. 50,000.
7- Enablement of Internal Committee members
The IC member shall have the respective powers to effectively the IC handles complaints related to sexual harassment in the workplace.
Step 4: Creating Employee Awareness
Why should you choose online training for POSH awareness?
- Online POSH Policy and training should be used because Tracking and reporting of employee compliance become simpler and easier when online training is used.
- Online POSH Policy training for IC enablement sessions and refreshers makes it easier for the incoming employees to have awareness. It is also easier to train the employees in the POSH Policies in the regional languages.
- Online Training is also a cost-effective way because the course can be used multiple times.
- Repeated POSH Policies training that employees can access the online training any number of times with no additional cost.
- A person who works remotely can complete the online training at his own time and pace without any difficulty.
The Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) policy contains guidelines and procedures that organizations must follow to prevent and address cases of sexual harassment in the workplace. It is important because it creates a safe and respectful work environment, promotes gender equality, and protects the rights of employees.
An employer or management is held responsible for ensuring that the POSH policy is implemented in the organization. They must appoint a POSH committee to handle complaints and grievances related to sexual harassment and educate all employees about the policy and its consequences.
A sexual harasser may use verbal, physical, or visual means to harass you, including making unwanted sexual advances or requesting sexual favours. It can also include offensive comments or gestures related to a person’s gender, as well as any behaviour that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Whenever you witness or experience sexual harassment at work, you should report it immediately to the POSH committee or your immediate supervisor. You can file a complaint in writing or through email and provide as many details as possible about the incident. The POSH committee will investigate the complaint and take necessary action to address the issue.
Violating the POSH policy can lead to serious consequences, including termination of employment, legal action, and financial penalties. Employers must take appropriate action against the offender and provide support to the victim. Additionally, employees must understand that they have the right to work in an environment with no sexual harassment and any retaliation for reporting such behaviour is prohibited under the law.