Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act

Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act

Mandatory For All Workplaces Having 10 Or More Employees

Registration of Internal Complaints Committee(ICC) under POSH

The POSH Act has been introduced and is mandatory for all companies in India to provide women employees with a safe and secure workplace environment free from sexual harassment.

As per the Sexual Harassment of Women (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH Act) read with the Sexual Harassment of Women (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules 2013 (Rules), every employer, including government/non-governmental organisation employing 10 or more employees, is required to constitute an Internal Committee (IC) for inquiring into complaints of sexual harassment filed by any woman at the workplace.

The POSH Act protects only women and is not gender-neutral legislation. Therefore, the safeguards under the POSH Act do not apply to ‘men victims’.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place Act was made mandatory by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs for all private companies to disclose compliance under POSH Act through their Annual Board Report.

The POSH Act requires companies to make an annual filing which discloses details such as the number of cases filed, pending or disposed of by the ICC in the company’s annual report.

Applicability

Applicability

The POSH Act extends to the ‘whole of India’. It is mandatory for employers having 10 or more employees to register their Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). The registration of this Act varies from state to state.

The Law applies to private and public sector companies, government bodies, ministries, NGOs and educational institutions.

Penalty

Penalty

If the employer fails to comply with the law, he/she is liable to a fine of Rs.50,000. On repeated non-compliance of the law, the employer can be penalised with double the fine amount. Non-compliance can also lead to cancellation of licence, withdrawal or non-renewal of registration for carrying on the business. However, employers should look at complying with this law, not because of penalties but because sexual harassment-free work environment would lead to better growth of the business.

Compliance Under POSH

Compliance Under POSH

The registration of POSH includes the formation of Policy and ICC committee in every company. The ICC committee comprises 4 members – Presiding Officer, employee members and an external member. Annual returns need to be filed by the Internal Complaints Committee (in case of more than 10 employees) or the Local Complaints Committee (in case of fewer than 10 employees) stating the company’s POSH compliance, i.e. the number of cases filed; their disposal and investigations etc. each calendar year and submit the same to the District officer under the supervision of the employer. In cases where the annual report is not required to be filed, the employer is responsible for communicating the total number of harassment cases filed in a year to the District Officer.

For more information on – POSH ADVISORY

FAQs

Sexual Harassment is any unwelcome act or behaviour (whether express or implied), such as:-

  • Physical contact or advance

  • A demand or request for sexual favours

  • Making sexually coloured remarks

  • Showing pornography

  • Any other physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.

Sexual harassment at workplace can take various forms. It can involve conduct such as:

  • unwelcome touching, hugging or kissing

  • staring or leering

  • suggestive comments or jokes

  • unwanted or persistent requests to go out

  • intrusive questions about another person’s private life or body

  • Deliberately brushing up against someone

  • insults or taunts of a sexual nature

  • sexually explicit pictures, posters, screen savers, emails, twitters, SMS or instant messages

  • accessing sexually explicit internet sites

  • inappropriate advances on social networking sites

  • behaviour which would also be an offence under the criminal law, such as physical assault indecent exposure sexual assault, stalking or obscene communications.

Every organization has to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) having following members

  • Chairperson – Women working at senior level in the organisation

  • 2 Members (at least) – Amongst employees committed to women issues, have legal knowledge or experience in social work

  • 1 Member – from NGO

If the organisation has workplaces located at different places or division or sub-division level, then ICC will be constituted at every workplace.

  • As prescribed under the Service Rules

  • In case service rules do not exist

    • Disciplinary action including written apology, reprimand, warning, censure

    • withholding of promotion/ pay raise/ increment

    • Termination of employment

    • Undergo counselling

    • Community service

  • Deduction from salary for:

    • Mental Trauma, pain, suffering and emotional distress caused

    • Medical expenses incurred

    • The loss of career opportunity

    • The income and financial status of respondent

  • If the amount is not paid it can be recovered as arrear of land revenue

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