What is POSH Policy?
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“POSH Act”) was enacted ensure a woman’s right to live with dignity and the right to carry out any occupation. The POSH Act provides protection against sexual harassment for every woman at workplace.
POSH Act is also applicable to every public/private establishment that carries out any commercial, vocational, educational, entertainment, industrial or financial activities in the whole of India. This includes organized and unorganized sector and non-governmental organizations.
The POSH Act requires every company to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee (“ICC”) in the prescribed manner in order to receive and address the complaints of any sort of sexual harassment from women in a time-bound and extremely confidential manner.
Need for POSH Policy
The POSH Act is based on the legally binding guidelines laid down by the Honourable Supreme Court in the case “Vishaka vs. State of Rajasthan (1997)”, commonly known as the VishakaGuidelines.
A lady named Bhanwari Devi was engaged by the state of Rajasthan to prevent the evil practice of child marriages. Her work was met with resentment and she was gang raped in 1992. Based on the facts of Bhanwari Devi’s case, a Public Interest Litigation (“PIL”) was filed before the Supreme Court by Vishaka and other women groups against the State of Rajasthan and Union of India.
The Honourable Supreme Court in its Judgment defined Sexual Harassment with examples, placed responsibility on employers to ensure that women did not face a hostile environment and directed them to establish a redressal mechanism in the form of Complaints Committee. These guidelines were applicable to all kinds of employment.
What are the essential clauses to be included in a POSH Policy?
Essential clauses to be included are as follows:
|1. Objective of POSH Policy||10. Action during pendency of inquiry|
|2. Applicability & Scope||11. Inquiry report & action|
|3. Definitions||12. Malicious Complaint|
|4. Internal Complaints Committee||13. Appeal|
|5. Removal or replacement of the ICC member||14. Responsibilities|
|6. Guidelines||15. Amendments|
|7. Redressal Process||16. Composition of the ICC|
|8. Conciliation||17. Annexures including Complaint forms|
|9. Inquiry Process|
1. Objective of the POSH Policy;
2. Applicability and scope;
4. Internal Complaints Committee;
5. Removal or replacement of the ICC member or Presiding Officer;
7. Redressal process;
9. Inquiry process;
10. Action during pendency of inquiry;
11. Inquiry report and action;
12. Malicious compliant;
16. Composition of ICC; and
17. Annexures including complaint forms.
“Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination projected through unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favours effecting the employment of the female employee and unreasonably interfering with her work performance and creating an intimidating or hostile working environment for her.” Such cases are required to be dealt with great sensitivity keeping the identity of the victims and witnesses strictly confidential. The committees established under the POSH Act are helpful in addressing the issues. Thus the impact of the POSH Act has an effective legal remedy.
The content of this article is intended to provide general guidance on the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
Key words: Sexual Harassment, Vishaka Guidelines.