What is Women Harassment Act or Posh Act?
The Women Harassment Act at Workplace or PoSH Act 2013 and Rules adopted by the Government of India in 2013 was a landmark measure in India’s history against workplace sexual harassment. The Vishakha Guidelines, established by the Supreme Court of India in 1997 to protect and safeguard all genders, especially women, from sexual harassment in work, were superseded by the POSH Act.
“Women are more eager to disclose any occurrence of sexual misconduct these days, and it is the obligation of organisations to respond immediately.”
-Suresh Tripathi, VC -Tata Steel’s HR Department
How PoSH At Work Regulates Safety and Security of Women?
The POSH at work requires all companies to implement a set of measures to prevent, prohibit, and address workplace sexual harassment. It should be noted that the goal of the women’s harassment act is to safeguard all women in the workplace, not only women workers. This means that an employer is responsible for providing protection to all women who enter their workplace. It might be an employee, a customer, a visitor, a vendor, an intern, a trainee, or a probationer. She is entitled to a safe working environment. As a result, the POSH Compliance procedures must be applied even if the firm has no female employees.
As a result, businesses need to become POSH compliant, which will provide safe workplaces free of sexual harassment and protect enterprises from the horrors of workplace sexual harassment lawsuits. This blog outlines and expands on the seven steps an employer must take to comply with the POSH Act 2013.
The POSH Act has had a good impact on women who have experienced sexual harassment at work, as seen by the rise in reports of such incidents each year. There was significant worry among the general public as the number of incidences of sexual harassment at work recorded grew by about 54% in 2018 and 14% in 2019. Nevertheless, industry insiders note that this rise in reporting is a good indication. The POSH Act of 2013’s recommendations and regulations have been adopted by all organisations, which suggests that women are better aware of workplace sexual harassment laws. With news of rapes and assaults making daily media headlines in our nation, sexual harassment of women has become a common occurrence. As citizens, we must take action to preserve the dignity of our female fellow citizens. Even in our places of employment, we should protect our female coworkers, bosses, and others and speak out against any harassment we may encounter. A civilisation worth honouring is one that values women.
Beneficiaries Of POSH at Work Policy
Each woman employee in any business or place is protected under the PoSH Act. This category contains women who are:
- Employed directly by the company, through an agency, or as a contractor
- Employed with or without the major employer’s knowledge
- Employed as volunteers or for a fee
- Working on a temporary, regular, ad hoc, or daily salary basis
- Contract employees, interns, trainees, probationers, and apprentices are further examples.
It is vital to highlight that under the terms of the PoSH Act, all women working in any establishment, organisation, or domestic family, whether public, government-run, private or part of the organised/unorganised sector, are protected.
Major Elements Of The Act
- Providing a safe working environment at the workplace/business or working location: The PoSH Act holds companies accountable for ensuring the workplace is safe for their employees. In this context, they must implement steps to ensure the safety of their employees from both employees and non-employees who may access the workplace (delivery boys, for example). This duty is not confined to the official workplace; it also includes or extends to any corporate cars and third-party websites frequented by employees.
2. Establish an Internal Committee in each business with more than ten employees: The Internal Committee (IC) is one of the PoSH Act’s two redressal organisations. Any employer who employs ten or more people is required to form an IC. The IC is in charge of hearing and resolving any complaints about sexual harassment in the workplace.
3. Formation of a Local Committee in each District: While only workplaces with ten or more employees are obliged to form ICs, this does not mean that the POSH does not protect women working in other workplaces. The PoSH Act 2013 also mandates the establishment of a Local Committee (LC) in each District to hear and resolve sexual harassment complaints from companies with less than ten employees. The LC also resolves complaints when directed against the employer of a workplace.
4. An in-depth examination into all accusations of sexual harassment: Within ninety days (90 days) after the complaint’s filing, the IC/LC, as the case may be, is obligated to undertake an investigation into every allegation of sexual harassment in accordance with the terms of the service rules relevant to the respondent.
Following the conclusion of an investigation, the IC/LC is obligated to submit a report outlining its findings. If the charges of sexual harassment are proven, the IC/LC may propose that the accused be disciplined by the employer or the District Officer.
- Organising Workshops, Seminars, and Awareness Programs for Employees in accordance with the Act at Regular Intervals: – The PoSH Act requires employers to hold periodic sensitisation seminars for all workers so that they are familiar with the requirements of the Act, the organisation’s redressal processes, and the repercussions of engaging in sexual harassment activities. Such workshops/training sessions must be organised by people who are specialists or have prior expertise with POSH sensitisation.
2. Punishment for false and malicious complaints and false evidence: The PoSH Act takes false and malicious complaints seriously and takes harsh measures against them. If the IC/LC determines that a sexual harassment accusation is untrue, it may suggest that the employer or District Officer take action against the woman or person who lodged the complaint in line with the terms of the service rules that apply to them.
How POSH Act Establishes Safe Workplace
POSH Training To Combat Sexual Harassment Of Women In the Workplace
Assumptions and confusions arose as a result of legislation such as these. What constitutes harassment and what does not constitute harassment has been debated in business organisations.
Assumptions arose, with some wondering if simply inviting someone out for lunch could turn them into an offender. Similarly, other beliefs or presumptions emerged, resulting in an unpleasant office climate.
It is worth noting that the POSH Act is gender-specific and extends beyond the confines of a workplace. However, every business must ensure that both genders see the POSH Act positively.
It is also the obligation of managers, human resource managers, team leaders, and others to raise employee understanding of the numerous facts involved in the area of POSH. As a result, mechanisms for POSH training are put in place to counteract any such assumptions or confusion.
The primary goals of POSH training are to familiarise employees with various elements, definitions, and repercussions of workplace harassment.
• Effectively teach internal committee members to provide them with a better awareness of instances when the POSH Act applies and how to deal with such concerns.
• To offer appropriate knowledge on POSH gender neutrality and how it might be utilised by men who suffer sexual harassment at work.
POSH Act Mandatory Measures
Responsibilities of employers to stop Sexual Harassment Of Women In the Workplace
The actions (declared mandatory) that companies must take to protect women at work are mentioned in Section 4 of this Act.
These recommendations are crucial for any employer to follow. Every business with more than 10 workers is said to be required to take these steps.
- Creating an internal committee with a presiding officer (a woman) who would be chosen by top management is a requirement.
- A minimum of one external member from a non-governmental organisation or NGO.
- The employees of an organisation must be represented by a minimum of two employees from the same business.
- Women should make up at least half of the panel. This is done to ensure that the gender ratio is balanced and to help the victim feel comfortable enough to talk openly.
Responsibilities of Employees to stop Sexual Harassment Of Women In the Workplace
- Every year, employees should be required to complete POSH training at least once.
- The committee must inquire about every instance reported, regardless of presuming the purpose or amount of harm.
- A significant punishment of up to 50,000 might be levied on the employer if they don’t follow the law at work. The penalties amount may increase to twice the fee for first-time non-compliance if the same is still not implemented. The government may also levy penalties such as licence revocation and withdrawal.
How Posh at work eradicates Sexual Harassment Of Women In Workplace.
- The POSH Act made it easier to raise awareness of workplace sexual harassment and gave victims a place to turn for prompt assistance.
- The POSH Act makes sexual harassment at work an unarguable criminal crime and simplifies and clarifies its scope.
- The POSH Act also offers a thorough overview of behaviours that are readily covered by the law, whether they are physical or verbal in character.
- The POSH Act’s internal compliance requirements have given enterprises the ideal foundation for better promoting and comprehending the law.
- Internal committees have instructions under this Act’s provisions that allow them to respond rapidly to complaints of this nature and offer appropriate solutions.
- The POSH Act has given women the courage to pursue careers in various sectors without worrying about experiencing any type of workplace harassment.
To create a peaceful and Sexual Harassment Of Women At Workplace-free environment for all employees, sexual harassment at the workplace is a very delicate problem that must be treated with the utmost care, patience, and understanding. As a result, the complaints must be resolved as promptly as possible. It is therefore imperative that the Justice Verma panel’s recommendations be adopted and the legislation is updated.
However, additional POSH Training sessions on the ground where government personnel are also participating are still urgently needed. The POSH Act 2013 is highly successful and has demonstrated its value in corporations. To ensure that POSH adoption becomes a core component of every company’s mentality, the government and other NGOs work nonstop.