PoSH Act: 5 Steps to Protect Your Brand
Do you know one out of every four employees is a woman?
Do you know every two out of five women claim that they have faced sexual harassment at the workplace in some form?
Two out of three organisations have no proper structure to address sexual harassment at the workplace.
The above stats should make any company look into their process of addressing cases of sexual harassment of women at workplace. Even after the introduction of the PoSH Act 2013 (which clearly states that organisations must have a proper structure to address complaints via PoSH act) most of the organisations fail to have a proper structure to address cases of sexual harassment at the workplace. The act has also made it mandatory for the companies to file an annual PoSH compliance report to the ministry of women and child development. Failing this would raise major questions on the PoSH Compliance policy of the organisation and can prompt the Government to take action against them. Therefore, it is essential for the companies to become PoSH compliant and draft policies that can protect their brand value from the horrors of cases related to sexual harassment at workplace. Let’s understand how brands can become PoSH compliant with this five-step guide.
The Five Steps for Organisations to become PoSH Complaint
Keep a Clearly STATED Organisational Policy Against Sexual Harassment:
All organisations are expected to draw a PoSH policy with explicit details on the redressal of PoSH complaints and the related mechanisms for it. A Posh policy is expected to cover the following:
- The policy should clearly state the coverage of workplace harassment (what constitutes sexual harassment and who is covered under it from management to employees).
- A detailed explanation of some ambiguous terms and the policy must ensure that every person in the organisation understands what constitutes Posh at work.
- Detailed information about the organisation’s internal complaints committee (ICC). The information must constitute the details of members of the committee. The committee must also include an external member for Posh with sound knowledge of the PoSH Act and experience in handling PoSH complaints.
- The policy should clearly outline the mechanism for filing complaints, the workaround of investigations, and what are the do’s and don’t for the victim and the alleged offender after filing of the complaint.
- Appeal Procedure, Organisations compensation procedure, and privacy clause to maintain confidentiality in such cases for the complainant and the respondent must be mentioned in the PoSH policy.
The PoSH Policy Should be Part of the Employment Contract
It is important for any organisation to make any new employee aware of the company’s policy to prevent cases of sexual harassment at the workplace. This will serve as a memo to the employees and also a behavioural guide during the working hours of the organisation. The employee won’t understand the kind of disciplinary actions that could be taken against them for not following the norms of the policy.
Formation of the Internal Complaints Committee
In the PoSH Act, it is clearly stated that the ICC should act as the primary judicial body in case of sexual harassment at the workplace. Formation of ICC is mandatory for any company employing ten or more employees. There are case laws available where courts have given instructions on the ideal structure of ICC. The company must follow all the norms, including an external member for ICC, keep at least 50% of women members with a women chairmen. All these members must be experienced and well versed with the norms of the PoSH acts. The company should arrange PoSH training for the members of ICC if they are not well versed with the PoSH Act.
Organise PoSH Training for Employees
The Company is responsible for organising PoSH training for employees on regular basis. It can also avail an online PoSH training module from any reputed legal firm to train all employees at various levels. The PoSH training ensures awareness among all employees, members of the organisation’s management, and ICC members. This proves to be helpful in maintaining a safe working environment for women and gives them an idea of their rights conferred by the PoSH act.
Filing Annual PoSH Compliance Report
The Section 21 of the PoSH act makes it mandatory for all organisations to file an annual report to the district officer. This report should contain the record of all the PoSH complaints handled by the ICC of the organisation throughout the year and status of the investigation at the time of filing the report. The Act says,
“The Internal Committee or the Local Committee, as the case may be, shall in each calendar year prepare, in such form and at such time as may be prescribed, an annual report and submit the same to the employer and the District Officer.”
Consequences of Non-Compliance of PoSH Act
The consequences for non-compliance with the PoSH Act could prove to be bad for the reputation of the organisation. It could also lead to the government taking legal action against them. For example, actions for non-formation of ICC are.
- Penalty up to Rs. 50000 on the organisation.
- The penalty could be doubled in case of repeated offense.
- Cancellation of business license could also happen for regular non-compliance.
Apart from this, not filing the annual PoSH report to the district office could also lead to action taken against the company by the government.
All this proves that PoSH compliance is not just a formality but rather a duty of the companies to ensure a safe working environment for women. If your company needs support for becoming PoSh compliant and drafting Posh Policy then contact a legal firm near you for assistance.