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Sexual harassment of women has always been a matter of concern for India, especially at the workplace. It is extremely saddening that most women are hesitant to report matters of sexual harassment due to the fear of losing their jobs.
It is the responsibility of the Early Stage businesses to provide a healthy and safe environment to their female employees from the onset of their business through initiating Compliance under POSH.
This article discusses about the compliance under Posh for Early stage businesses, which can be quite helpful for the businesses.
POSH is an acronym for Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment Act 2013. The act was implemented with the aim to prevent and prohibit sexual harassment at the workplace. It must be noted that the Act includes all the women of the organisation, such as the clients or any other women in the organisation and is not just restricted to the female employees of that organisation.
The following steps must be followed to ensure compliance under POSH.
The first step to ensure Compliance under POSH is drafting a well-defined POSH Policy of the organisation. The policy must clearly mention the acceptable and unacceptable norms, the definition of sexual harassment, the responsibilities of the employers, the redressal mechanism and any other relevant provisions; The policy should be drafted in a simple language which is comprehendible by each member of the organisation. The job offer letter and the employment contract must mention that the organisation adheres to the Compliances under POSH and promotes a safe working environment.
According to the POSH Act, every organisation with more than 10 employees must constitute an internal Committee, i.e. the team that handles the sexual harassment complaints of its employees. The committee should comprise of the following members-
It is important to note that the external member should not have any other relationship with the organisation in order to ensure the presence of a non-biased member in the internal committee.
The internal committee is required to accept the complaint and provide redressal of the same within 90 days.
The Act mandates every organisation to take adequate measures for the prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace; one such measure is the display of POSH posters in conspicuous places, which must mention the consequence of sexual harassment at the workplace.
It is important to arrange awareness programs for the employees and internal committee members to provide a better understanding of the provisions of the Act.
Features of the POSH Training
The features of POSH training for Compliance under POSH are
The next step in Compliance under POSH is providing assistance for the completion of the inquiry. According to the Act, the organisation must provide assistance to the internal committee, local authorities and the complainant for the successful completion of the inquiry.
Assistance to the Internal Committee
The assistance to the internal committee can be provided through supplying the attendance of the complainant, respondent and witnesses for each session of the inquiry or by supplying any other information as requested by the internal committee.
Assistance to Local Committee
A local committee is constituted to redress sexual harassment complaints in case the organisation has less than 10 employees. This committee is set up in every district to accept the complaints of the women employees of the organisation.
The organisation is required to provide complete support to the local committee for the completion of the inquiry.
Assistance to the Aggrieved in Filing the Complaint
The aggrieved women have the right to file a complaint with the internal committee as well as the police. However, if the harasser is a third party, i.e. someone outside the organisation, the internal committee won’t have the jurisdiction to redress the same. Here the organisation must provide complete support to the aggrieved women in filing a complaint with the police.
The final step is the submission of the Annual report by the organisation to the district officer at the end of every calendar year in accordance with Sections 21 and 22 of the POSH Act.
The annual report should consist of the following information –
The above discussion leads to the conclusion that it is essential for the employer to complete the Compliance under POSH for Early-Stage Businesses to avoid any penalties and provide a safe working environment for the women in the organisation.
Read our Article: Key Components of a Company’s POSH Policy