5 Key Steps for Compliance with Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013
Compliance with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 or more popularly known as the PoSH Act is mandatory for all establishments functioning in India. With the Annual Report due to be filed in January, ensure your organization is in compliance with the conditions and recommendations put forth by the Act.
Non-compliance to the Act would lead to consequences that include financial penalties, poor employer brand and employee satisfaction scores, resulting in reduced brand image among the customers and the public.
Here is a checklist of 5 key steps to ensure that your establishment is compliant to the PoSH Act, 2013.
Create and Implement an Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy:
- A strong policy that is in line with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is mandatory and the most important step towards compliance.
- Draft and implement a policy detailing the rules, procedures and course of action in case of a Sexual Harassment Complaint.
- The policy must detail the definitions of Sexual Harassment, coverage (who it applies to), responsibilities of employers/employees, procedure to file, handle and report complaints and all other related proceedings.
- Clearer the policy, lesser the ambiguity – making for a strong Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy.
Constitute an Internal Committee (IC) and give them the necessary training to function efficiently:
- Constitute an Internal Committee for your establishment, for each branch in every location as deemed necessary by The PoSH Act.
- The minimum number of members on the IC is 4, with the below major designations:
- Presiding Officer - Must be a woman.
- External Member - Someone from Non-Governmental Organizations or associations working for women’s cause.
- 2 Employee Members - Employees committed to the cause of women.
The number would vary based on the number of employees working in a branch.
- A handbook that is always accessible by the IC members must be prepared; detailing the roles and responsibilities of the Committee Members, along with the dos and don’ts. Members must also be aware of what may get them disqualified from the committee.
- Empower your IC to handle all Sexual Harassment related complaints and wield the needed authority to resolve the cases as necessary.
- IC must adhere to timelines and close all cases within 90 days from the date of complaint filing, as prescribed by the PoSH Act.
- Reports of all complaints, course of action and recommendations must be submitted by the IC to the prescribed authorities. The details of all resolved and pending complaints/cases must be reported in the Establishment’s Annual Report.
- Periodic training sessions for the members would help as refreshers to make sure that committee functions efficiently.
- Adherence to timelines and authenticity of reports must be monitored by the Senior/Management or a dedicated legal team.
- All necessary facilities and infrastructure must be provided to the Members to handle Sexual Harassment complaints, provide assistance to employees facing Sexual Harassment issues and take necessary actions.
Employee Awareness and Assistance:
- Employees at every level in the establishment must be provided with regular awareness programs on PoSH Act, 2013 and the Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy at the establishment.
- Employees must be aware of their rights under the PoSH Act, and the consequences of engaging in Sexual Harassment.
- Employees must be aware of who they can reach out to, and the procedure to register complaints in the case of Sexual Harassment.
- Assistance must be provided to employees who have been subjected to Sexual Harassment, to resolve the complaint and deal with the after effects, mentally, emotionally and physically if need be.
- Periodic sensitization workshops, awareness programs, checks and courses must be made mandatory for all employees of the organization.
Posters and Notices:
- Posters and notices calling out the details of the PoSH Policy and the members of the IC must be displayed at accessible and visible locations in the establishment.
- Standees/posters detailing out the procedures and ways to reach the IC may also be displayed in public gathering spaces on the work floors, ensuring visibility to all.
- Posters may also be displayed in applicable regional languages to ensure maximum reach to the employees.
Statutory Annual Report Filing:
- The Sexual Harassment Act, 2013 mandates the submission of 2 reports, annually by the employer. These reports include:
- An annual report submitted to the employer and the District Office (DO) by the IC detailing out the number of cases filed/resolved during that calendar year.
- The employer must include the report in the Annual Report of the Establishment that is filed with the Registrar of Companies.
- Below are the specifics to be mentioned in the Annual Report submitted by the IC to the employer that is subsequently forwarded to the DO:
- Number of complaints filed
- Number of complaints resolved
- Number of complaints awaiting resolution beyond 90 days
- Actions carried out by the employer/DO
- A record of all awareness programs/workshops provided to the employees
- Every State Government has a set of guidelines on the submission of Annual Report by the IC/LC. Kindly ensure that your establishment adheres to the same in addition to the details mentioned above.
Following these steps would ensure compliance to PoSH.