How to Conciliate a Dispute Under the POSH Act
It might be difficult to understand POSH procedures at times. Given the significant transition to an online work environment, many people may struggle to understand key POSH terms and practices. Training and awareness initiatives that enable information transfer are critical for reducing misunderstandings and difficulty in procedures. Ungender discusses POSH reconciliation in this article. When the two parties engaged in a case of sexual misbehavior in the workplace voluntarily agree to a solution, it is known as POSH conciliation.
What does the POSH Act mean by conciliation?
The procedure of conciliation is discussed in Section 10 of the Sexual Harassment of Women (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH Act). The prospect of a settlement between the complaint and the respondent is referred to as this. The internal committee (IC) can only begin a conciliation if the complaint requests it. In this case, the respondent is unable to seek that conciliation is begun. Conciliation might be requested before the start of the inquiry. A conciliation under the POSH Act is only complete if both the complainant and the respondent agree on the conditions of the settlement.
It is important to remember that the POSH Act prohibits the complaint from requesting monetary benefits as part of the settlement. The settlement may contain requirements such as a written public apology, social service hours for the respondent, or the respondent’s attendance at counseling, among other things. If the conciliation is successful and the parties agree on mutual conditions of settlement, the Internal Committee (IC) can close the complaint and not pursue a full-fledged inquiry.
The IC’s role in performing POSH conciliation
Following the complainant’s request for conciliation, the IC assists the mediation process to resolve. The IC’s sole purpose is to act as a neutral third party. The IC must not persuade any party to participate in the conciliation. They must guarantee that the entire process is conducted in a civilized way and that meetings are kept in order. The IC must also guarantee that neither party is pushing the other to accept settlement conditions that they do not want.
They must also document all of the actions they take and keep comprehensive minutes of every meeting they attend. Members of the IC must attend training courses to properly comprehend their role in conciliation.
The IC must record the conditions of settlement and verify that both parties have read and consented to them after the conciliation has been agreed upon by both parties. The IC must also make certain that the conciliation conditions are signed and submitted to both the complaint and the respondent. The IC will issue a report containing the details of the settlement and recommendations to employers based on the conditions of the settlement. Employers are obligated to follow these guidelines, and they must do so. Both parties must get a copy of the terms. Once recommendations have been issued based on a conciliation procedure, the complaint cannot seek an investigation again.
If the conciliation fails and the parties cannot agree on a consensual settlement, the IC must record the failure. They must keep thorough minutes of the sessions and show that conciliation was begun and that both parties were unable to achieve mutual conditions of the settlement. Following the failure of the conciliation, the IC must certify that an investigation will be conducted into the incident.
It is critical to ensure that the settlement terms are not entered into under pressure or coercion. Section 10 of the Act reflects this logic as well. The respondent is prohibited from requesting conciliation under Section 10 to avoid putting pressure on the complainant to reach an agreement without their permission. Since a result, the IC’s job becomes critical, as the IC must ensure that no confrontation occurs during the sessions. As a result, a well-trained IC who understands the subtleties of the conciliation process is required to effectively complete the procedure.