The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act (POSH Act) of 2013 is the legislation which requires the organisations to build a safe workplace for women. To that effect it has laid down certain procedures and compliances.
Companies are required to adopt a whole set of mechanisms which includes , anti-sexual harassment policy, employee sensitization sessions, constituting and training of internal complaints committee (ICC) members, etc. for drafting a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment. To strengthen compliance, the act mandates filing of an annual report by the organisations.
POSH Annual Report filing has been a big discussion point at all our Internal Committee meets since there is a lot of ambiguity among HR leaders, Compliance Officers on how to go about filing the POSH Annual report based on The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
In matters of Prevention of Sexual Harassment, there are two reports to be submitted by the employer:
- Annual report to the Employer and District Officer
- Annual report to the Registrar of Companies
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs, in 2018, amended the Companies (Accounts) Rules 2014. By this amendment, it is now mandatory for a company to make a statement in the Director’s Report that it has complied with the provisions regarding the constitution of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). This is a disclosure made by a company in the Director’s report and is filed before the Registrar of the company. This report is filed along with the Annual returns to the Registrar of companies.
The Annual report on the other hand is a report prepared by the Internal Committee of the Organisation and filed before the District Officer.
Who files the Annual report?
As per section 21 of the POSH Act, it is the duty of the ICC to submit a POSH annual report, each calendar year, to the Employer, who in turns files it with District Officer. It is to be noted that certain district officers may prescribe a format of the report to be filed.
What should be included in the Annual report?
According to Rule 14 of the POSH Act, the following needs to be included in the annual report:
What is the penalty of Non-compliance?
An employer can be subjected to a penalty of up to INR 50,000 for:
- Failure to constitute Internal Complaints Committee
- Failure to act upon recommendations of the Complaints Committee; or
- Failure to file an annual report to the District Officer where required; or
- Contravening or attempting to contravene or abetting contravention of the Act or Rules.
Where an employer repeats a breach under the Act, they shall be subject to:
- Twice the punishment or higher punishment if prescribed under any other law for the same offence.
- Cancellation/Withdrawal/Non-renewal of registration/license required for carrying on business or activities.
Monitoring is a critical yardstick to measure success in terms of compliance with the Act. Additionally, it highlights those areas, in terms of law and practice, which may require improvement and/or additional information and guidance at both the State as well as the workplace levels. Besides the questions answered in the Blog, there may be other queries like:
- If there is a template for the annual report?
- Where to obtain information on District officers?
- Confidentiality terms while filing the report?