India’s POSH Act
THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF WOMEN AT WORKPLACE (PREVENTION, PROHIBITION, AND REDRESSAL) ACT 2013
India’s POSH Act, enacted in December of 2013, is an innovative and extensive act targeted at abolishing sexual harassment against women in the workplace. It is exciting legislation that is designed to have an immense impact on gender equality in India.
How does the act define sexual harassment?
The act defines sexual harassment as “any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour (whether directly or by implication)”:
• “Physical contact and advances”
• “A demand or request for sexual favours”
• “Making sexually coloured remarks”
• “Showing pornography”
• “Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature”
The following are also stated in the act and are considered to be sexual harassment if linked with acts or behaviors of sexual harassment:
• “Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment” in a woman’s employment
• “Implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in her employment”
• “Implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status”
• “Interference with her work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for her”
• “Humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety”
Whom does the act apply to?
The act calls for action from employers of 10 or more people.
What does the act want my business to do about sexual harassment?
The act defines “duties of the employer” to combat sexual harassment, including the constitution of an “Internal Complaints Committee” in every workplace.
Guide me through initiating an Internal Complaints Committee.
First, there needs to be a committee in every office or administrative building, not one committee for the entire business.
According to the act, the committee must consist of:
• A presiding officer: a women employed at the senior level (if there is not one, a woman at the senior level from another office should be nominated)
• Two or more committee members from among the employees
• One member from an NGO or relevant association in the field of sexual harassment or women’s rights
The committee is responsible for receiving complaints in a specific manner. The company is expected to respond and act on the complaints once the committee has gone through its process. If the victim is not satisfied with the outcome, they can take the matter to court.
What are the other “duties of the employer” under the act?
The act states that all employers must:
• Set up grievance committees to investigate all complaints
• Prohibit sexual harassment as part of service rules
• Formulate and disseminate a no-harassment policy that specifies what constitutes sexual harassment and complaint procedures
• Provide a safe, no-harassment work environment
• Take preventive measures
• Conduct sensitization programs for all stakeholders
• Declare contact details of the complaint committee
• Ensure that all sexual harassment complaints and procedures are confidential and time-bound
• Train people on the requirements of this law
How can Workplace Options help my business comply with the POSH Act?
The Workplace Options Labor Solutions team can help your business take the necessary actions to go beyond compliance with the POSH Act and create progressive, lasting effects in your workplace by:
• Helping your business establish an Internal Complaints Committee and form internal policies necessary for compliance
• Providing representation on your internal committee
• Implementing a hotline specifically for POSH reports, staffed by trained and experienced counselors
• Implementing WOVO, our mobile tool that will empower employees by providing a direct, anonymous line of communication with management
• Providing extensive and thorough training for employees and committee members that will equip them with the skills necessary to effectively respond to complaints
• Helping your business maintain its compliance by reporting and following up regularly
To read the full POSH Act, click here.
Gazette of India. (2013, December 9). The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. Retrieved August 21, 2018, from http://www.iitbbs.ac.in/notice/sexual-harrassment-of-women-act-and-rules-2013.pdf
POSH at Work. (2016, November 20). The act and the rules on sexual harassment of women at workplace. Retrieved August 21, 2018, from https://www.poshatwork.com/sexual-harassment-act-rules/
Nishith Desai Associates. (2018, February). India’s law on prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace. Retrieved August 21, 2018, from http://www.nishithdesai.com/fileadmin/user_upload/pdfs/Research%20Papers/Prevention_of_Sexual_Harassment_at_Workplace.pdf