Everyone is entitled to a safe and friendly workplace. A person spends most of his/her waking hours in the office and expects to be treated with dignity, feel safe and work without discrimination. However, countless cases have been reported about women facing sexual harassment at workplace by their employers, managers or colleagues.
Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Indian Constitution lay down the fundamental rights of every citizen to equal protection under the law, a life free from any form of discrimination and protection of life and personal liberty. Any act of sexual harassment at workplace or otherwise is considered as a gross violation of women’s right to dignity and equality.
Sexual harassment at workplace has been a pandemic problem on the global front and India has been suffering from this issue in both public as well as private sectors of employment. The landmark judgment in Vishaka vs State of Rajasthan was the first stride towards the must needed regulatory and preventive measures for sexual harassment of women.
It took more than a decade to enact the Prevention Of Sexual Harassment At Workplace Act, 2013. The Act was enacted as a measure to prevent sexual harassment against women at the workplace and redressal of sexual harassment complaints raised by women employees.
LetsComply endeavours to provide a safe and equal work environment to all its employees and envisions that all organisations adhere to the provisions of the POSH Act so as to provide a friendly and secure workplace to all women employees. For this, LetsComply has created guides that provide a better insight into the implementation and mechanism of the POSH Act.
Who Is A Woman Employee Under POSH Act?
As per the POSH Act, every woman, irrespective of her age, employment or work status is entitled to a safe and secure workplace. Under the Act, all women working or visiting any workplace in the capacity of a regular, ad hoc or daily wage employee comes under the ambit of woman employee.
All women employees engaged directly or through an agent, including a contractor, working for a remuneration, working as a co-worker, contract worker, probationer, trainee, apprentice, or called by any other name, working in a dwelling place or house are covered under the Act.
What Is A Workplace?
As per the POSH Act, a workplace is any place Indian or foreign company having a place of work in India, visited by the employee arising out of or during the course of employment, including transportation provided by the employer for undertaking such a journey. A workplace includes both the organised and unorganised sectors. A workplace, therefore, includes the following places:
- Government organizations, including Government company, corporations and cooperative societies.
- Private sector organisations, venture, society, trust, NGO or service providers providing commercial, vocational, educational, sports, professional, entertainment, industrial, health-related or financial activities, including production, supply, sale, distribution, etc. services.
- Hospitals or nursing homes.
- Sports institutes and such facilities.
- Places visited by the employee (including while on travel) including transportation provided by the employer.
- A dwelling place or house.
An unorganised sector is defined as any of the following places:
- Any enterprise owned by an individual or self-employed workers engaged in the production or sale of goods or providing services of any kind.
- Any enterprise where less than 10 workers are employed.
Who Is An Employee?
As per the sexual harassment at workplace laws, an employee is any of the following persons:
- Any head of a department, organisation, undertaking, establishment, enterprise, institution, office, branch or unit of the Government or local authority or such officer specified in this behalf.
- Any person (whether contractual or not) responsible for the management, supervision and control of a designated workplace
- A person or a household who employs or benefits from the employment of domestic worker or women employees.
What Is Sexual Harassment At Workplace?
Sexual harassment at workplace is any unwelcome act or behaviour such as:
- Physical contact or advances.
- Demand or request for sexual favours.
- Sexually coloured remarks or comments.
- Show of any pornographic material.
- Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.
Any of the following behaviours are considered as sexual harassment at workplace:
- Implied or explicit promise of preferential/detrimental treatment in employment
- Implied or express threat about the present or future employment status of the woman employee.
- Hostile, intimidating or an offensive work environment.
- Humiliating treatment that may affect the health or safety of the woman employee.
Complaint Mechanism Under Sexual Harassment Act
All employers need to mandatorily establish an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) and Local Complaints Committee (LCC) to deal with the workplace sexual harassment complaint raised by women employees. Both the committees must constitute at least 50% of women representation and all members of the committees can hold their position for 3 years.
Every employer needs to have in place, a POSH policy- Prevention Of Sexual Harassment At Workplace Policy in accordance with the Act. The policy outlines the acts that would be considered as sexual harassment, establishment of committees, complaint redressal procedure, punitive measures, etc. to be followed at the workplace.
Employers are responsible to ensure that any form of sexual harassment at workplace is prohibited, employees are trained and any complaint of workplace sexual harassment is dealt with in a prompt manner. The employer is also responsible to organise orientation programmes for employers, managers, employees, etc. and ensure that the employees are provided a safe working environment where they can work free of any sexual harassment or discrimination.
LetsComply provides assistance for the drafting of POSH Policy, employee training and dealing with ICC complaints. Call us at +91-9717070500 or send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to know more about our prevention of sexual harassment at workplace services.
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