Creating Safer Workplaces for All
Sexual harassment of woman at workplace is a matter of grave concern as it affects women’s right to life and livelihood. Therefore, to promote gender equality and women empowerment across every sector, the Government of India enacted the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Act, 2013 (“POSH Act”) and Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Rules, 2013 (“POSH Rules”).
One of the primary objectives behind the enactment of the POSH Act was to ensure safe working spaces for women and to build enabling work environments that respect women’s right to equality of status and opportunity. The POSH Act read with POSH Rules provides for protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and has also provided mechanisms for the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment. Additionally, the legislation also casts mandatory duties on the employer to provide a safe working environment at the workplace.
A&A is recognized amongst the leading law firms in matters pertaining to POSH law. The team at A&A not only advises on POSH Laws but also promotes a safe working environment and has in fact adopted necessary policies and procedures in line with the POSH Act read with POSH Rules within the firm.
As we all are aware that sexual harassment is a very sensitive topic and not only requires a lot of patience and clarity in addressing the issue at hand but also a clear understanding of the POSH laws. Most of the time, organizations are not well prepared, equipped and lack expertise in handling complaints related to POSH or falling within the ambit of POSH laws in India. As a result, a lot of times organizations end up getting involved in legal battles which otherwise could have been avoided if such complaints had been handled more professionally. The team at A&A is adept at providing advisory on such critical matters including assisting with the investigation process in a time bound manner and helps organizations comprehend and mitigate the legal risks associated with such sensitive matters.
A&A provides tailor-made solutions and assistance regarding the legal issues pertaining to sexual harassment keeping in mind the business interests of our clients. To assist our clients in protecting their legal interests and addressing any concerns pertaining to POSH laws in India, we combine our legal expertise and practical industry experience to advise clients in the following manner:
- Undertaking drafting and reviewing of the POSH policies, guidelines, training manuals, and annual reports for organizations situated pan India.
- Conducting training sessions and awareness programs for both the employees and the Internal Complaints Committee members (“ICC Members”) and apprising them about their obligations and roles, procedure for addressing any sexual harassment complaint, the powers and duties of the ICC Members etc., as enshrined under the POSH Act read with the POSH Rules.
- Providing services as an external member of the internal committee to a plethora of clients and subsequently, participating in the inquiry hearings pertaining to sexual harassment complaints and ensure that the inquiry hearings and the findings arrived at by the ICC Members are in accordance with the POSH laws in India.
- Providing guidance and advisory to our clients to ensure that they are not only duly complying with the provisions stipulated under the POSH Act read with the POSH Rules but also with the necessary orders, circulars, notifications passed by the respective state governments or central government from time-to-time in relation to POSH.
1. What amounts to sexual harassment?As per the provisions of the POSH Act, the following acts or behavior may amount to sexual harassment:
- physical contact and advances; or
- a demand or request for sexual favors; or
- making sexually colored remarks; or
- showing pornography; or
- any other unwelcome physical, verbal, or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature; or
- implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in her employment; or
- implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in her employment; or
- implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status; or
- interference with her work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for her; or
- humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety.
2. What is an Internal Complaint Committee?Every employer of a workplace shall constitute by an order in writing, a committee to be known as the Internal Complaint Committee (“ICC”) as per the provisions stipulated under the POSH Act which shall comprise of the following members: (i) Presiding Officer; (ii) 2 (two) two members from amongst employees preferably committed to the cause of women or who have had experience in social work or have legal knowledge; and (iii) 1 (one) member from amongst non-governmental organizations or associations committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment.
3. What will constitute a workplace?The workplace includes any place visited by the employee arising out of or during the course of employment including transportation provided by the employer for the purpose of commuting to and from the place of employment or even a dwelling place or a house. A workplace also includes but is not limited to any department, organization, undertaking, establishment, enterprise, institution, office, hospitals or nursing homes, any sports institute, stadium, sports complex or competition or games venue, etc.
4. What is the time limit for an aggrieved woman to file a complaint?As per the provisions of the POSH Act, any aggrieved woman or other person on her behalf can file a complaint of sexual harassment to ICC within 3 (three) months from the date of last incident. In case of series of incidents, 3 (three) months from the date of last incident. A further extension of 3 (three) months may be granted by the ICC for reasons to be recorded in writing.
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