Sexual harassment is a serious issue in the workplace. As the number of women in leadership positions rises, so does the number of women who are assaulted.
We began to understand the depth of this issue with the #Metoo movement when many women spoke out about their horrifying experiences. Yes, women have the legal right to speak up and fight. However, this is not a simple task.
In 2013, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) (POSH) Act was passed, which provided some relief. The Act establishes a new mechanism for companies to handle sexual harassment complaints: the internal complaints committee members. Let’s take a look at how an organization’s internal complaints committee members can help women fight sexual harassment at work and create a harassment-free environment.
What is an IC or internal compliance committee?
To remain in compliance with the POSH Act 2013, an organisation must implement a few measures. By written order, any organisation with ten or more employees should form an Internal Committee (IC) or internal compliance committee (ICC). The IC will look into the allegations of sexual harassment and take action if necessary. If the organisation has multiple administrative divisions in different locations, each administrative division must have its own IC.
Keep in mind that the term “employee” refers to anyone employed by the organisation on a temporary, ad hoc, or daily wage basis, including apprentices, trainees, volunteers, and those hired through an agent or contractor, as defined by the Act.
Why should the internal compliance committee be constituted?
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a delicate issue that requires caution, patience, and understanding. To provide a harmonious and harassment-free workplace for all employees, the complaints must be resolved as quickly as possible. As a result, forming an IC sends a clear message that the organisation cares about women’s safety. Furthermore, this is a legal requirement, and failure to comply can result in severe penalties, including the loss of a business licence.
The organization’s nternal compliance committee is authorised to carry out the following tasks:
- Creating a Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy for the Organization (POSH)
- Working to make the workplace a safe and respectful environment for all employees
- Organizing programmes to raise awareness at regular intervals
- Organize meetings:
- In the event that any form of misconduct or sexual harassment has occurred, to address a complaint submitted by any of the female employees, to settle grievances, and to ensure that appropriate compensation is provided.
- If the aggrieved woman decides to pursue a sexual harassment case in court, we will assist her in filing a police report.
What is the IC’s structure like? The Internal Committee (IC) / Internal Complaints Committee has a certain number of internal complaints committee members
An employer-formed IC should have a minimum of four members, one of whom should be an outsider. Women should make up half of the internal complaints committee members.
Internal Complaints Committee Members Types
The 3 kinds of internal complaints committee members has are as follows:
- Presiding Officer: The Presiding Officer is the Internal Committee’s chairperson and must be a female employee in a senior position. This makes it possible for women to file complaints with the IC. If a senior female employee is not available, the company can designate a senior employee from any other organisational units/offices, or from another employee-owned workplace.
- Employee Members: Employee members of IC must be appointed by two or more members. It is preferable if they have significant legal experience, have worked for a social cause, or have worked in the field of women’s safety. Because it is not always functional to have employees with legitimate knowledge in the area of women’s safety, the employer must provide training to employees on a regular basis to integrate them with education and training when handling difficulties.
- External Member: The organisation should also appoint external ICC committee members who is only affiliated with the organisation for the purposes of the IC’s operation. The candidate must have at least 5 years of experience working as a social worker in the areas of women’s empowerment and workplace sexual harassment. This can be accomplished by volunteering for a non-governmental organisation or association dedicated to women’s empowerment. The individual should be knowledgeable about labour, service, civil, and criminal law. The external member’s presence is necessary to maintain objectivity and a third-party perspective in IC’s operations.
The concept of an external member is a little difficult to grasp. The following section can assist in resolving any ambiguities.
The purpose of having an external member is to ensure that the internal compliance committee activities are objective and uninfluenced and that the inquiry process is fair and transparent.
The following is a list of the Internal Committee’s External Member responsibilities.
- With the help of the other IC members, draught and review the organization’s POSH policy.
- Participate in the investigation team that handles sexual harassment complaints to ensure neutrality.
- Participate in IC meetings on a regular basis to ensure that the POSH policy is properly implemented.
- Prepare meeting minutes for meetings conducted by the internal compliance committee.
- Participate in the preparation of the Annual Report.
The external member’s income
The POSH law permits an External Member to accept a stipend and reimbursement of travel expenses from his or her employer. Furthermore, the Act permits a person to serve as an External Member of multiple organisations.
If you need an External Member for your Internal Committee, check out our FREE External Member Directory, which contains profiles of External Members. You can add your profile to our External Member Directory for FREE here if you are an External Member.
Internal compliance committee‘s Term and Debarment
An ICC committee members term runs for three years from the date of appointment, after which time he or she must be replaced. ICC committee members, on the other hand, can be fired from or their position after three years if he or she violates the rules.
- Breach of confidentiality concerning case information, such as the identity of the complainant, witness, or respondent, information about the investigation’s progress, or IC’s recommendations or actions.
- Is convicted of a crime or a criminal investigation is underway.
- Has any disciplinary proceedings pending since being found guilty?
- Has abused any powers they have in order to stay in office, even if it is against the public interest.
In this case, the member must resign, and the position must be filled by someone who meets the qualifications for the position.
It is true that if the IC is properly formed, you can avoid penalties and legal consequences. However, in a company, IC has a lot more responsibilities. They are in charge of fostering a positive work environment through training programmes and public awareness campaigns. By serving as role models, IC can serve as a pillar and driving force in the creation of a respectful workplace.