Sexual harassment at the workplace has become a routine activity nowadays. Now and then we get to hear about new cases of sexual harassment. This is because sexual harassment at the workplace is an enhanced form of violence that takes place in daily routine and snatches away the women’s right to life and healthy livelihood.
We need to have a committee in place solely responsible for addressing and resolving the issues of sexual harassment at the workplace and which is easily accessible by all workers.
Internal Complaints Committee(ICC) is a mandatory committee that every employer is required to constitute within his organization. In the scenario where the employer has branch offices, he needs to have an ICC as each such branch office to address the issues of sexual harassment. Every company needs to have in place an effective ICC committee else the company can be penalized for non-constitution of ICC.
Every company should have a safe and harassment-free workplace. In the case of the complaint against POSH, the ICC is solely responsible to investigate without being bias. The ICC is required to be vigilant to redress the sexual harassment complaints and resolves the same ASAP. ICC is the sole authority to inquire about the complaints and make efforts to redress the same.
The Complaints of sexual harassment at a workplace corrode the persona of not only the complainant and the accused, but of the company and its goodwill as well.
The ICC training is an important part of the complaint redressal process and helps make the Internal Complaints Committee learn about the important elements of compliance under the Act. Our ICC training focuses on the below agenda:
POSH or the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (the Act) is a groundbreaking law on a much-needed and burning issue. It is India’s first codified legislation that categorically deals with the prevention, prohibition, and redressal of sexual harassment of women at the workplace.
The Act came into force on December 9, 2013, and is binding on every organization, public or private, having more than 10 employees.
The POSH Act has laid down a detailed guideline for the entities and they are free to formulate their policy to prevent, prohibit, and redress sexual harassment of women in their companies.
The “Policy” has to be formulated following the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 and the “Rules” must be framed keeping in mind the provisions in “Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules, 2013.
As per the POSH Act, an employer has 10 workers or more is required to set up an Internal Complaints Committee for the redressal of ‘sexual harassment complaints at such entity and to regulate and administer complaints on sexual harassment. An Internal Complaints Committee is required to be constituted which shall submit an annual report to its employer and District Officer.
Every company needs to have in place an effective IC, else the company can be penalized for non-constitution of IC.
Initially when the Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 was passed Internal Committee was called ICC (Internal Complaints Committee) but on 9th May 2016, the amendment was made and ICC was substituted by Internal Committee (IC) wherever it existed. This was done to expand the role of the sexual harassment Committees so that they are not restricted to complaint resolution only.
As per Section 4 of the Act, every employer must adhere to the obligation of constituting an Internal Complaints Committee if the workplace has more than ten employees. This initial in-house body gains great significance if a woman faces sexual harassment at the workplace as the Internal Complaints Committee must be approached for filing a complaint by the aggrieved women.
As the entire effectiveness of the POSH Act depends on the Internal Complaints Committee Policy, therefore, the members of the IC need complete clarity and competency. This POSH training will give them the much-needed insight into the formation, functioning, powers, responsibilities, and mechanism of IC’s functionality.
By attending this training the IC members will understand the A-Z of the POSH Act and also the nitty-gritty of the sexual harassment redressal system.
The Internal Complaints Committee training is an integral part of the complaint and redressal process of the Internal Complaints Committee Policy. This training will help make the Internal Complaints Committee Members learn about the important elements of compliance under the Act. For example:
The powers assigned to IC under POSH ACT.
Methodology for conducting an inquiry of sexual harassment complaints.
Important guidelines which IC is required to comply with while conducting the sexual harassment inquiries.
Timeline for resolving complaints as defined under the Act, which the Internal Complaints Committee needs to follow while investigating a complaint.
Under the Act, Internal Complaints Committee Policy is required to prevent instances of sexual harassment and also to receive and effectively deal with complaints related to such acts. Accordingly, the Internal Complaints Committee (IC) is to be constituted at all administrative units and offices of a company, and once the committee is appointed the details of the Internal Complaints Committee Policy is to be notified to all persons at the workplace.
The Internal Complaints Committee must comprise of:
i) Presiding Officer: The presiding officer must be a woman employed at a senior level in the organization or workplace to work according to the Internal Complaints Committee Policy.
ii) Internal Members: At least 2 Internal Complaints Committee members must be selected from among the employees who are committed to the cause of women or who have had the experience of social work or have legal knowledge.
iii) External Member: The external member of the IC has to be selected from non-governmental organizations or associations committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment.
iv) 50% Women: At Least one-half of the total members nominated to the IC must be women.
The Internal Complaints Committee plays an important role in the functioning of the provisions of the Act and to ensure the fulfilment of its objectives of the Internal Complaints Committee Policy.
Thus, the main function of the Internal Complaints Committee is:
As per Section 11(3) the Internal Complaints Committee enjoys the powers same as that of a Civil Court and therefore:
Responsibilities of Internal Complaints Committee
Every organization is bound by POSH law to publish the names and details of the current IC members on the premises at prominent places as well as on their official website.
The main responsibility that lies with the IC is:
The Internal Complaints Committee is required to be vigilant to redress the sexual harassment complaints and resolve the same ASAP.
Procedure for Conciliation:
However, before such termination or the ex-parte order, the IC shall serve a notice in writing to the party/parties, 15 days in advance.
As per the Internal Complaints Committee Policy, during the period of pendency of the inquiry, if a written request is made by the complainant, the Internal Complaints Committee may recommend to the employer:
Internal Complaints Committee Policy mandates that the compensation by IC shall be determined based on:
Internal Complaints Committee is a mandatory committee and so conducting training for IC members is a mandatory requirement for the Company as per the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013. The law mandates that an organization should conduct frequent training sessions and webinars for the IC members.
The constitution of IC helps an organization in reaching the objective of building a safe workplace in line with the guidelines of the Act. Duly formed IC helps in reducing the reputational risk for the organization because when Internal Complaints Committee is trained it can deal with cases of sexual harassment at the workplace effectively within the organization itself. The IC training also reduces the risk of unnecessary litigation that is increasing in the organizations due to the ineffectiveness of IC to deal with sexual harassment cases.
The employer must showcase the order constituting the Internal Complaints Committee at the major places in the workplace. If the order is not displayed, the employees are free to contact the employer/head of the department/human resource department for obtaining information about the constitution IC.
In the event where the Internal Complaints Committee is not formed as per by the Act, the company will be punishable with a fine of Rs. 50,000 and in the situation of continued default can lead to cancellation or withdrawal of license/registration required for carrying on business activities.
When the Internal Complaints Committee receives a complaint the first step is to conduct an inquiry into the complaint by calling all the concerned parties who have reported the complaint. Thereafter, once an inquiry is over then based on the facts received from the concerned parties and evidence (documentary or otherwise) gathered, the Committee will frame its findings, which will be shared with the employer for further action.