Understanding PoSH Act, 2013 and its importance at the workplace.

PoSH Act, 2012 (Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal of Act 2013) is a significant element of legislation in India. The purpose of the law’s formulation and interpretation was to give women a secure workplace. The law offers guidelines for punitive action in addition to a focus on preventing sexual harassment. Additionally, the law places accountability on all private employers, as well as NGOs, PSUs, Central and Local Governments.

The importance of PoSH in India cannot be overstated as it addresses a pressing issue of gender-based violence and harassment in the workplace. The Aruna Shaunbaug Case in 1973 and the Bhanwari Devi Case in 1992 are the two cases that rocked the globe and made people realize how important it is for women to be secure at work.

The PoSH Act defines sexual harassment to include unwelcome acts such as physical contact and sexual advances, a demand or request for sexual favors, making sexually colored remarks, showing pornography, and any other unwelcome physical, verbal, or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature. It also lists down five circumstances that would constitute sexual harassment if they are connected to the above-mentioned acts –
(i) Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in employment
(ii) Implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in employment
(iii) Implied or explicit threat about present or future employment status
(iv) Interference with work or creating an intimidating, offensive or hostile work environment and
(v) Humiliating treatment likely to affect health or safety.

Why is the PoSH important for Indian and foreign companies to operate in India?
  1. Encouraging more participation of Women: As per the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, in 2023, women comprise only 37% of the workforce overall, creating a safer workplace for women can boost their engagement and participation.
  2. Legal Mandate: This law mandates that all employers, including public and private institutions, provide a harassment-free work environment for women. Employers risk legal repercussions, such as fines and penalties, for ignoring or not following the POSH requirements.
  3. Gender Equality: PoSH is vital for promoting gender equality and creating a workplace that respects the dignity of women. It empowers women to speak out against harassment without fear of reprisal.
  4. Safe Work Environment: PoSH is instrumental in fostering a safe and conducive working environment for women. It helps prevent incidents of sexual harassment and provides a mechanism for redressal when such incidents occur.
  5. Cultural Shift: PoSH has contributed to a cultural shift in India by raising awareness about the importance of respecting women’s rights in the workplace. It encourages organizations to foster a culture of respect and gender sensitivity.
  6. Empowering Women: PoSH empowers women by giving them a platform to report harassment, seek redressal, and take legal action against perpetrators. It helps women access justice and regain their sense of security at work.
  7. Corporate Responsibility: It is mandatory for organizations to implement PoSH policies and training programs to fulfill their corporate social responsibility and protect their employees.
How Adomi can help you in PoSH implementation?

The PoSH Act of 2013 places the onus of protecting a female employee on the employers. However, the majority of employers are unaware of how to implement PoSH, Adomi assists businesses in comprehending the specifics of the law and provides guidance on how to apply it in the workplace.

Here are the ways we help the companies:
  1. Policy Development: We help companies to develop comprehensive sexual harassment policies tailored to their specific needs and in compliance with relevant laws and regulations. These policies outline what constitutes harassment, the reporting process, and the penalties for the perpetrators.
  2. Training and Awareness: We design and conduct training programs for employees and management to raise awareness about sexual harassment, its prevention, and the importance of reporting. This training is crucial for fostering a culture of respect and compliance.
  3. Compliance with Legal Requirements: Adomi ensures that the company adheres to all legal requirements related to sexual harassment prevention, including setting up Internal Committees (ICs) and submitting mandatory reports to authorities.
  4. Setting up Internal Committee (IC): We assist in forming ICs and ensuring they function effectively. This includes appointing members, training them, and guiding the committee through the complaint-handling process.
  5. Filing of the Annual Complaint Report: We help the companies file their annual complaint report and submit it to the respective authorities.
  6. Handling Complaints: We provide guidance on handling sexual harassment complaints, from initial intake to investigation and resolution. We ensure that the redressal of complaints is an impartial process.
  7. Providing the External Member for Internal Committee (IC): The PoSH Act of 2013 requires the inclusion of an external member in the IC. Finding an external member participant, who possesses the necessary experience in handling sexual harassment cases can be difficult. With backgrounds in both the legal and social sectors, our team consists of seasoned professionals who have handled cases involving sexual harassment and led investigations. Working with experts who can provide direction and support can help any business get ready to handle such cases.

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