What is POSH?
POSH stands for Prevention of Sexual Harassment. A law to prevent and to provide protection against, Sexual Harassment of women at the workplace as well as redressal of complaints of Sexual Harassment.
What is Sexual Harassment?
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013 makes it illegal to sexually harass women in the workplace. It talks about the different ways in which someone can be sexually harassed and how they can complain about this kind of behavior.
Why Posh law?
As per the survey conducted by the Indian National Bar association
- It was found that 38% of women had faced Sexual Harassment at the workplace
- Of these, 68.9% said they refrained from making a complaint due to fear, embarrassment, and lack of confidence
- When questioned about legal protection, 42.2% said they did not feel protected at work.
The Unprotected environment and workplace will reduce productivity too.
POSH Law-What does it state?
Under Section 4 of the Act, Every company with 10 or more employees must Internal Complaints C0mmittee(ICC). This Committee must have
- A Presiding Officer from Senior Management who must be a female
- An external member from amongst non-governmental organizations or a lawyer
- At least two members representing the employees of the organization.
It is mandatory that at least 50% of the total members so nominated should be female. All complaints shall be made to this body which must resolve every issue impartially.
All employees of the organization must undergo awareness training each year as it is mandated.
Irrespective of the intention of the accused or the level of impact, every incident has to be taken seriously and investigated by the Internal Complaints Committee.
Where does it Apply?
Any aggrieved woman can file a complaint of sexual harassment to IC within 3 months of the incident. The period within which one can file the complaint can also be extended to another period of three months.
IC, before it initiates inquiry, may try to reconcile between the parties, if the aggrieved woman requests but monetary settlement cannot be the basis of conciliation. If conciliation is not possible, IC will inquire into the complaint and give both parties a chance to be heard and complete the inquiry in 90 days. During the inquiry process of being heard, neither party will be allowed to bring their lawyer.
Post inquiry, IC will have to prepare an inquiry report giving recommendations on the matter, in 10 days, and give a copy of the same to the organization/company and the concerned parties. The organization/company will have to act on the recommendations in 60 days.
The Act also provides that if a victim is dissatisfied with the findings of IC, she can appeal to a court/tribunal. IC has been assigned with the responsibility to submit an annual report on the no. of cases that arose and got settled during the year to the company and the company further has been mandated to include this information in its annual report and in cases of companies which do not prepare an annual report, the companies are required to intimate such number of cases to the District Officer.
Failure to comply with this could lead to hefty penalties. Some of the provisions under the PoSH Law include:
- When the employer fails to constitute an Internal Committee or breaches provisions of this Act or any rules made thereunder, they shall be punishable with a fine of fifty thousand rupees (INR 50,000).
- If any employer, after having been previously convicted of an offense punishable under this Act, subsequently commits and is convicted of the same offense, he shall be liable to twice the punishment.
- Extended penalties shall be
- Cancellation or withdrawal of his license.
- Non-renewal, or cancellation of the registration.