The law on Prevention and Redressal of Sexual Harassment at Workplace, 2013, (commonly known as, the PoSH Act) enters a decade of its existence since it was passed by the Parliament of India.
Although it is a mandatory law, the data on compliance across employers in India is concerningly low. There is still a lack of awareness, and a lack of willingness and vision to implement the same. If you have the intention but are looking for tips on implementation, look no further:
1. Understanding the need of the policy: An organization registered in India needs to have PoSH policy in place. The PoSH Policy is typically formulated at the time of incorporation, and is non-compliant if it does not have a POSH policy by the time the organization has 10 employees. It is a mandate, irrespective of the legal status, industry, geographical location or the gender ratio. The PoSH Policy should contain the scope, applicability and corporate governance mechanisms that are in place for prevention, prohibition and redressal of situations of sexual harassment. The document should help employees understand their rights and responsibilities under the law and policy. Further, the powers and duties of the Internal Committee should be adequately spelt out.
2. Formulate the Policy as per the work culture: Whether the work culture is more formal or more casual, a safe working environment is a need for every employee to be able to flourish at work. The organization needs to clearly declare that it has Zero Tolerance Policy towards sexual harassment. Emphasis has to be laid on that all the forms of sexual harassment be it physical, virtual, verbal or psychological will not be tolerated by the organization. The strong message is sent by formulating the zero-tolerance policy that all are protected and right to equal and safe work environment is provided.
3. Set out the scope clearly: This should include that all vendors, guests, interns, contractual staff and customers are covered under the policy and that violation will not be tolerated and will be dealt with strictly.
4. Role of Employer: The PoSH Act lays a heavy emphasis on the role of the employer, the decision maker within the organization. The broad, overarching duty is to provide a safe working environment. In pursuance of which, proper infrastructure
5. Form and Empower the Internal Committee: It is the company’s responsibility to designate the right persons to be on the Internal Committee. The IC members need training and capacity building to be neutral, unbiased and conduct the investigation in a proper manner. IC should be well aware of the PoSH Act and should know the service rules / Code of Conduct/ Business Ethics of the organization. Employer should also ensure that a qualified external member is appointed as required under the law.
6. Disseminate the Policy: The employees should be made aware of the PoSH policy is enforce and employee sensitization should be conducted at least once in a year, the policy should be made available on intranet on the HRMS portal, the physical copy should be handy as well. The process of filing complaint and the Inquiry process along with the timelines of the investigation should be informed to one and all.
7. Conduct regular trainings: Schedule the PoSH trainings regularly to educate the employees as to what is Sexual harassment? what is not considered as sexual harassment? Educate the employees as what is the difference between sexual harassment and workplace harassment. The employees should be made aware of the repercussion of the mis- behaviour and misconduct. What needs to be done if you are the victim of sexual harassment or if you witness to any such conduct should be explained as well.
8. Conduct the inquiry/ investigation in an unbiased and fair manner: The IC should be empowered and advise to conduct the inquiry in fair and just manner. The inquiry has to be completed in the stipulated timeframe as defined under the Act. The inquiry has to be promptly addressed and the entire process of conducting the investigation and thereafter should be confidential. Proper and timely communication has to be done with the parties involved in the investigation. The findings report should be communicated and the recommendation as per the findings should be implemented.
9. Provide Support and Resources: It is employer’s responsibility that a robust support system and tools are made available and access to the same is provided to all. Employee assistance programs, counselling facility, support for filing FIR, getting legal advice are some other ways auxiliary support may be provided.
10. Monitor and Update the Policy: The employers need to ensure that the policy is reviewed timely and any new ordnances or changes in the act is imbibed in the policy, so as to ensure the implementation of the Policy is done in right and appropriate manner.
Thus, while the drafting of a proper policy ensures that it is good on the page, it is in combination with some other necessary actions set out above that the policy comes alive as a set of principles and processes that are to be applied in the event of workplace interactions which give rise to situations of sexual harassment at the workplace. It is critical to walk the talk and follow the good practices set out to ensure that your company has an effective sexual harassment policy and implementation framework in place.
At KelpHR we believe that having safe, happy and inclusive workplaces is the key to business transformation and growth and mental as well as physical health and wellness is the key to healthy and happy employees and workforces.
KelpHR was incorporated in 2013 to provide the best HR solutions to organizations, and to improve workplace culture across the board. Over the last 10 years, we have serviced more than 700 clients in India and a few overseas, across various industries in the areas of PoSH (prevention of sexual harassment at workplace), D, E & I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) and EAP. But the common objective of all of these services is to build safer, happier, incl usive and productive workplaces.
For our services related to Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH), Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (D,E &I) or Employee Assistance programs (EAP) do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call +91-95001-29652 and we’d be able to help you with customized offerings suited to your organization.