The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Act and Rules, 2013 (“Law”) mandates every Employer to “provide a safe working environment at the workplace which shall include safety from the persons coming into contact at the workplace” (Section 19 (a)).

For this, it provides that the aggrieved can file a complaint of sexual harassment within the organization itself and seek redressal via the internal mechanism. For the success of this, all organizations (whether public or private) having 10 or more employees (whether permanent, temporary, ad-hoc, consultants, interns or contract workers irrespective of gender) are mandated under Law to comply with certain requirements.

Formulation & Dissemination of Policy

The Law provides that employers must formulate a policy against sexual harassment at workplace. Please note:

  • Copy of Law or Service Rules is not the same as Policy
  • A policy is must for women even if there is no policy for other genders
  • Even if there are only men as employees, a policy is must
  • Even if there are global policies, Indian policy as per Indian law is must

The Law states that policy needs to be disseminated. However, how the dissemination should take place has not been defined. 

POSH Policy
POSH Policy

Constitute an Internal Committee along with External Member

The Law states that organizations must have an internal committee which shall consist of: 

  • A Presiding Officer 
  • At least 2 members from amongst employees 
  • 1 external member (independent person from amongst NGO or associations committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment) 
  • At least one half of the total members must be women 
  • Term of IC is three years

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Constitute an Internal Committee by an Order in Writing

The Law requires employers to constitute the IC by an order in writing. This means that the constitution of IC must be formally done (in writing) for it to be considered a legally constituted IC.

“An order in writing” may mean different things for different kinds of organizations and would depend on the type of registration.

POSH Policy
POSH Policy

Train IC members & Organise Awareness Programs for Employees

The Law requires that IC Members are trained so that they are able to inquire into complaints effectively as per process under Law. Similarly Law also provides that organizations must organize regular training and awareness programs on this Law amongst employees to ensure knowledge/awareness about it.

These can be conducted through in-person interactive sessions, interactive webinars, e-learning modules, podcasts, plays etc. and can be of different durations.

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Annual Report & Disclosure

As per Law, each IC of each separate legal entity must prepare and submit an annual report to the employer and District Officer in their district.

Also, as per Section 22, an organization employing 10 or more persons and /or having an IC must disclose in its annual report of previous financial year: the number of complaints filed with the IC; and the number of complaints disposed of.

As per MCA Rules (Companies (Accounts) Rules, 2014), IC’s details also have to be disclosed in organization’s Annual Report.

POSH Policy

Notices & Posters

As per Law, an employer is responsible for creating awareness about the Policy, the redressal mechanism, consequences of sexual harassment and to display details of IC members (or order constituting it) in conspicuous places. A poster to create awareness could be displayed in any place within the workplace (on a notice board / website etc.) usually or frequently seen / visited by employees/ visitors, so that visitors are aware too that you do not tolerate such behaviour. 

Register IC with Government

Government Authorities have been coming out with notifications / orders from time to time requiring organizations to register their IC with Government. Mumbai, Noida, Telangana, & Karnataka have done this so far. More are expected shortly.

Consequences of Non - Complaince

Non-compliance with reporting requirements under the Law could lead to a fine of Rs. 50,000 and in case of subsequent conviction, penalty can be double the amount imposed earlier or lead to cancellation of license to do business.

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