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POSH Compliance Mandatory Requirement in India to Prevent Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace

In order to protect the sexual harassment of Women at workplace and the right to work with dignity, the Government of India came up with "THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF WOMEN AT WORKPLACE (PREVENTION, PROHIBITION AND REDRESSAL ("POSH") ACT, 2013, which mandated organizations in India to have a policy on prevention, prohibition, and redressal of sexual harassment at workplace for women.

Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 (The "POSH" Act)

Applicable Jurisdiction:

The POSH Act extends to the 'whole of India'.

Sexual harassment results in violation of the fundamental rights of a woman to equality under articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India and her right to life and to live with dignity under article 21 of the Constitution and right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business with includes a right to a safe environment free from sexual harassment.

Evolution of the Law:

Supreme Court of India in its landmark judgment of Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan, for the very first time framed certain guidelines and issued directions to the Union of India to enact an appropriate law for combating workplace sexual harassment.

After 16 years of the this judgement, Ministry of Women and Child Development, India in 2013 enacted the legislation to address the issue of Sexual harassment at workplace under POSH Act that provides protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and for the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Legislative Timeline in Brief:

Draft Bill approved by Union Cabinet: 2007

Bill passed in Lok Sabha: 2012

Bill passed in Rajya Sabha: February 2013

President's Assent: April 2013

Defining Sexual Harassment Under POSH

Defining Sexual Harassment Under POSH

"sexual harassment" includes any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour (whether directly or by implication) namely:

(i) Physical contact and advances; or

(ii) A demand or request for sexual favours; or

(iii) Making sexually coloured remarks; or

(iv) Showing pornography; or

(v) Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature;

"POSH" Compliances

To be POSH Compliant, an employer has various obligations to fulfil in ensuring that working women do not face sexual harassment at the workplace. Below listed are some of the mandatory /suggested compliances of the Act that the employer must adhere to:

1. POSH Policy

Framing and adoption of "POSH policy" for the Organization including basic definitions/ meanings of the Act, responsibility of employees, complaint procedures, redressal mechanism, etc.

2. Employment Contract to reflect POSH Policy

Employee's offer letter and employment contract should state organization's commitment to ensure safe workplace. Legal actions should be taken upon violation of POSH policy.

3. Constitution of the Internal Committee (IC)

Formulation of Internal Committee including External Member. The IC would be responsible for handling and redressing complaints on sexual harassment.

4. Creating Awareness

Organization should take necessary steps to create awareness by:
- Organizing workshops for informing the employees on the Act.
- Organizing capacity & skill building programs for the members of IC.

5. Annual Report Filing

Monitor the Internal Committee's timelines for submission of reports for Annual Filing

Our team of experts, is well versed with the compliance and is helping multinational companies in implementation of the POSH Compliance and monitoring that policy norms are adhered by MNCs.

Author: Madhulika Dutta

September 10, 2020