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General Guidelines With Respect To Sexual Harassment Of Women At Workplace

The POSH Act, 2013 came into the picture after the major shook off which caused due to the change in corporate governance as a result of the changes brought forward in the working of the corporates due to the amendment brought in line with the Companies Act, 2013. The genesis behind the introduction of the Act was to secure the safety of the women employees of the Company at the workplace and providing them a safe and healthy environment, free from sexual harassment. In the era where the safety of women has become a matter of chuckle, the POSH Act has brought a massive impact in the working environment for the women.

The applicability of the POSH Act extends to workplace of any kind as the Act may be called as The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. The Act recognizes that Prevention from sexual harassment comes within the ambit of fundamental rights as it is a right of a women to live with dignity and carry on a profession, trade or business in an environment free from sexual harassment.

General Compliances for Employer
A. Constitution of Internal Complaints Committee:
  1. ICC shall comprise of 1 Presiding officer and such other members as prescribed.
  2. Such PO must be the one who is holding a senior level position in the workplace.
  3. Employers must nominate a member in the ICC who shall be a member of NGO or associated with organisations who are committed to the cause of women.
  4. The tenure of such members shall last for 3 years.
B. Disqualification (s):
a. If any of the above mentioned persons:
  • Contravenes the provisions of section 16 of the Act;
  • Has been convicted for an offence or an inquiry into an offence under any law for the time being in force is pending against him; or
  • He has been found guilty in any disciplinary proceedings or a disciplinary proceeding is pending against him; or
  • Has so abused his position as to render his continuance in office prejudicial to the public interest.
b. Such individuals shall be removed from the committee and fresh nomination shall be made.

C. Reporting:
  1. Wherein any complaint or allegation has been submitted, ICC shall look into such matter and submit a report of its findings to the employer within 10 days from the date of completion of the inquiry.
  2. Such report shall be forwarded before the Employer by ICC.
  3. Employer to act on the basis of such findings within a said period as prescribed under the act.
  4. Committee shall prepare an annual report and submit the same before the employer and employer must include information in annual report of the number of cases filed or disposed in the annual report.
D. Publication:
  1. The Act specifically prohibits the publication of any contents of complaint, the identity of the aggrieved woman, respondent and witnesses, any information relating to conciliation and inquiry proceedings, recommendations of internal committee or the Local committee or any action taken by employer or district officer.

E. Duties of employer.
  1. To provide a safe working environment at the workplace.
  2. Display at any conspicuous place in the workplace, the penal consequences of sexual harassment and the order constituting, the Internal Committee.
  3. Organise workshops and awareness programmes at regular intervals.
  4. Provide necessary facilities to the Internal Committee.
  5. Assist in securing the attendance of respondent and witnesses before the Internal Committee.
  6. Make available such information as required by either internal committee.
  7. Cause to initiate action against the said perpetrator under IPC, 1860.

The POSH Act prescribes that wherein an employer fails to abide by the compliances under the POSH Act, it will attract a fine of Rs.50,000. Furthermore, an employer who has been convicted for the same offence subsequently, such shall attract a fine which may be twice the amount mentioned above in addition to the cancellation of his licence for carrying on his business or activity.

However an organization should be concerned with the bad publicity and downfall in the goodwill which arises due to the sexual harassment charges/cases. Therefore every organisation must adhere to these compliances keeping in view the letter and spirit of law because when such compliances are done just for the sake of letter of law such leads to apparent compliance which is worse than non-compliance.

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