The POSH law since its enactment in 2013 has faced several challenges in its implementation. Some of the most significant ones have been the various myths that surround this law. Here, we clarify some common misconceptions about the Act and its implementation at the workplace.
Myth 1: An organisation with all male employees doesn’t require an Internal Committee.
Fact: All organisations with more than 10 employees, of any and all genders, are required to constitute an IC.
Myth 2: My organisation has 11 employees, so I can make use of a Local Committee.
Fact: All organisations with more than 10 employees must constitute an Internal Committee.
Myth 3: The work of an organisation ends with constituting an Internal Committee and resolving complaints that are filed with it.
Fact: The job of an organisation’s IC doesn’t end at resolving the complaint. If the complainant so wishes, they must be provided with adequate help to file a criminal complaint with the police and it is the responsibility of the IC to ensure that there is no retaliatory behaviour from the respondent.
Myth 4: Once appointed, the members of the Internal Committee can start adjudicating on matters immediately.
Fact: While it is important for the IC to begin functioning as soon as possible, it is also important to ensure that all IC members have gone through adequate training, bias reduction and skill building workshops to make them fit for the role.
Myth 5: The Internal Committee has nothing to do with third party interactions that might result in sexual harassment of any employee.
Fact: The organisation must make necessary provisions that allow employees to file complaints even against third parties, and take whatever action falls within the organisation’s jurisdiction, such as issuing a notice to the concerned party, or discontinuing transactions with them.
Myth 6: The recommendations of the Local or Internal Committee are merely suggestive in nature.
Fact: Senior management of all organisations are responsible for the mandatory implementation of any and all suggestions given by the LC or IC.
Myth 7: The Internal Committee is only concerned with acts of sexual harassment that take place within office premises.
Fact: The IC is responsible for receiving complaints about any acts of sexual harassment that take place as part of employment activites or at any extended company property, such as transportation provided by the company.
Myth 8: As all work takes place in English, all notices regarding the prevention of sexual harassment and redressal methods need to be only in English.
Fact: The IC is meant to address complaints from all employees from across cultures and traditions and therefore to ensure inclusivity, it is important to publish notices in Hindi, as well as any other commonly used local language.
Keeping in mind the importance of implementation of the facts mentioned above, SHLC brings to you your very own “POSH Checklist” to help you ensure complete compliance with the POSH law. We have compiled a list of steps you must follow to ensure a safe working environment for all employees. It is important to note that all these steps are mandatory and non-compliance with these regulations is actionable.
- Publish an in-house policy regarding sexual harassment (prevention, prohibition and redressal).
- Constitute an Internal Committee if the organisation employs 10 or more than 10 people.
- Conduct periodic seminars and workshops detailing sexual harassment at the workplace, ways to prevent it, and methods of redressal.
- Publish posters and notices in English, Hindi and a regional language in prominent public spaces within office premises.
- Prepare an annual report detailing the work of the Internal Committee which will then be forwarded to the prescribed authorities.
Some Often Overlooked Details:
- Include an external member in the Internal Committee; this helps with reducing bias, and is an opportunity to include a trained professional in the Committee.
- Create a handbook for all members of the IC in order to keep them apprised of their roles and responsibilities.
- Provide counselling services for all employees who file complaints to help them assimilate back into the workplace seamlessly.
- Institute a mechanism to monitor the work of the IC to ensure that attention is being given to detail: these include providing the option for conciliation, meeting the prescribed time limit for responding to complaints etc.
- Include information about pending and resolved cases as well as plans for the following year in the annual report.
The sheer number of steps can often lead to a few steps being missed, or misunderstood. It is imperative to customise and implement different measures on the basis of the organisation work culture, dynamics, size, industry etc.
For any assistance in implementation of the POSH Act, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org