Sexual Harassment At The Workplace: What Does The POSH Act Say?

Posted: April 19, 2018

What is the POSH act, and how has it put the onus on employers to enable a harassment free workplace? Learn your law here! 

Have you ever faced a sexually coloured remark at your workplace? A subtle sexual advance by your co-worker? Is your workplace gender sensitive? Does your organization have a policy against sexual harassment? Is there a forum to address related issues? Do you feel confident to discuss your issues without any implication on your reputation? Are you wondering what counts as sexual harassment, in the first place?

A little background to the POSH act

In the 1990s, a small news item was published in a regional newspaper in Rajasthan. It talked about a social worker called Bhanwari Devi filing an FIR against a gang of men who allegedly raped her for being instrumental in stopping child marriage. However, Bhanwari received little support and justice until the women’s rights group Vishakha stepped in. This resulted in the Supreme court of India laying down guidelines against sexual harassment in workplace that were famously called the Vishakha Guidelines. In 2013, many years after formulating the Vishaka guidelines, the Supreme court passed the Prevention of Sexual Harassment or the POSH act.

What is the POSH Act?

POSH act, 2013 is the prevention, protection and redressal of sexual harassment in the workplace. It defines what actually constitutes sexual harassment and the ways to prevent, protect and address the same. POSH act mandates any organization having more than 10 employees to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) that provides a channel for addressing sexual harassment at the workplace. It also elaborates on the actions to be taken, the confidentiality of the complaint, training and awareness. It also dictates the actions to be taken against any false accusation. It should also be noted that this Act is gender neutral and applies to both men and women.

How does it impact an Organization and its Employees?

As suggested earlier, POSH Act enforces any organization to formulate a policy for the prevention of sexual harassment and redressal of the same. It mandates an internal complaints committee to address the issues and resolve them. It also recommends conducting orientation programmes and seminars. This Act would help to create a fostering environment for working women and empower them to voice out against sexual harassment.

Watch this episode of The PS Show to listen to Sohini Mandal elaborate on the POSH Act, part 1 of the series on Prevention of Sexual harassment at the workplace.

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