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Employer Compliance relating to Sexual Harassment at Workplace

Prabhat Nigam

| Updated: Jun 24, 2022 | Category: Labour Compliance

Sexual Harassment at Workplace

As the sensitivity towards sexual harassment at workplaces is increasing day by day among the workers at the workplaces and the awareness regarding the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is seeping into every organization, the employers of these organizations become wary of the compliances that are supposed to be met by them failing which may attract penalties against their organization, harm their goodwill and in worst cases may even lead to the closure of operations of the organizations.

This piece of writing lists down the compliances relating to sexual harassment at workplaces that an employer needs to comply with.  

Who is an employer under the law on Sexual Harassment at workplace?  

According to the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013[1], an employer is defined as the head of a particular organization or any person that is responsible for the control, supervision and management of the workplace. In the case of a dwelling place or a household employing domestic workers, the household shall be the employer under the said act.

What are the employer compliances related to sexual harassment at workplace?  

Following requirements need to be met by an employer in order to comply with the provisions of the law related to Sexual harassment at workplace:

  • Constitution of Internal Complaints Committee (ICC)    

All the employers of the organisations that have more than 10 employees at any point of time during the year are required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) in the manner prescribed under the Act and applicable rules. ICC should be constituted for every office or branch that employs at least 10 employees. This is a body which conducts an inquiry into all the cases of sexual harassment within the organisation that are brought to its notice. This committee then recommends measures that can be taken by the employer.

  • Providing assistance in enquiry by the ICC

It is the responsibility of the Employer to provide assistance in the inquiry initiated by the ICC and also to ensure that the annual report of the same is submitted to the District Officer. Participation of the alleged perpetrators and witnesses should be ensured by the employer in the proceedings.

  • Preparation of internal Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy

The employer has to ensure that a proper Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy is prepared and implemented in your organisation. In particular, whether the sexual harassment has been specified as a form of misconduct under the relevant employment contract or the service rules or the standing orders, wherever applicable.

  • Display of notices

The employer needs to ensure that sufficient notices have been put up at a conspicuous place in the organisation informing the employees about the stand of your organisation on sexual harassment and the possible consequences of indulging in such acts. The conspicuous places where the notices can be displayed are notice boards, outside the entrance, in the canteen, at the reception, on the local intranet of the organisation or other similar places that can be easily identified by the employer.

Additionally, the notice must contain sufficient information about the members of the ICC in the prominent places in the organisation so that employees and staff can reach out to them in case of sexual harassment at workplace.

  • Employee sensitization and assistance

It is the responsibility of the employer to conduct periodic workshops and seminars to sensitise the employees about the stand of his organisation on sexual harassment and the consequences of engaging in any such conduct that amounts to sexual harassment.

Efforts have to be made by the employer to make the employees aware of their rights under the Act.

An employer needs to put in place a system or process of providing assistance to an employee who has been sexually harassed in approaching the ICC and in dealing with the psychological and other effects of sexual harassment.

An employer also needs to provide assistance to the harassed employee to lodge a criminal complaint in the police station and make the employees aware of this.  

  • Employer’s organisations regarding the ICC

The employer needs to ensure that the required numbers of members are present in the ICC as per the conditions laid down under the Act. The employer needs to conduct an orientation programme for the members of the ICC. Further, capacity-building and skill-building workshops need to be conducted for the member of the ICC by the employer of the organisation on a regular basis. Furthermore, the employer needs to provide facilities to the ICC in dealing with the complaints relating to the proceeding of sexual harassment at workplace. 

  • Compliances with the Complaints Committee Recommendations

The employer needs to follow the recommendations of the Local Complaints Committee or the ICC regarding the interim measures. Additionally, the employer needs to implement the recommendations of the Local Complaints Committee/ICC in accordance with the final award. Further, it is the duty of the employer to constantly monitor the functioning and performance of the ICC on a broad scale. For example, whether the complaints filed with the committee are being decided in the prescribed time period, whether the prescribed procedures are being followed or not etc.

  • Preparation of the Annual Report

All the companies, societies and trusts are supposed to file an annual report regarding the sexual harassment complaints received and their current status to the Registrar of Companies, societies and trusts, respectively. However, in the case of sole proprietorships, partnership firms and LLPs, there is no need to file such an annual report; rather, they need to inform the District Officer under the Act about the status of sexual harassment cases within their organisation.

Conclusion    

The act of sexual harassment at workplace is a violation of fundamental rights, and employers have been given a key role in preventing the cases of sexual harassment at workplace and securing a safer working environment for women employees according to the Act. However, most of the organisations these days are moving one step ahead and making all-inclusive anti-sexual harassment policies within their working environment to make the working environment a safe place for both men and women working.  

Read our Article: An explanation of POSH Act, the law against sexual harassment

Prabhat Nigam

Prabhat has done his BA LLB (Hons) and has been writing research papers since his law school days. His interest in content writing made him pursue a career in legal research and content writing. His core areas of interest are indirect taxes, finance and real estate.

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