The Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) Act provides a legal framework for addressing workplace sexual harassment.
The act establishes that each workplace must have an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). ICC is now called as IC. This committee must have 50% representation of women.
Internal Committee (IC)
Every employer is required to establish an IC through a written order. The IC must be composed of the following members:
* Chairperson / Presiding Officer: A senior-level woman employee. If one is not available, someone is nominated from another office or workplace within the same employer.
* Two members (minimum) from among employees who are committed to women’s cause or have legal knowledge and experience in social work.
* One member from an NGO or association committed to women’s cause. Or someone familiar with the issue of sexual harassment.
Where a workplace, has administrative units in different locations, an IC must be established at each unit.
The Madras High Court awarded damages to an employee for the non-establishment of an IC, as per the Vishaka Guidelines. This was done in response to the employee’s complaint about workplace sexual harassment. In this case, the court emphasized the importance of having an IC, which serves as a place for women employees to seek redress. This sends a clear message to the workplace about handling of such complaints and prevents a series of litigations.
External Members on the Internal Committee
The POSH Act also refers to external members on the internal committee. These members should have, the demonstrated knowledge, skills, and capacity to deal with workplace sexual harassment. External members should also have a sound grasp of the legal aspects of these issues. And they may have at least five years of experience as a social worker working towards women’s empowerment and addressing workplace sexual harassment.
Key Responsibilities of the IC
The IC must be thoroughly prepared, knowledgeable about the act and relevant service rules. It should be able to gather and analyze all relevant information. The IC must also be able to determine the main issues in a complaint, prepare relevant interview questions, conduct necessary interviews, and prepare a report with findings and recommendations.
Knowledge, Skills, and Training
Dealing with workplace sexual harassment complaints is complex. The IC must have critical skills and capacity to carry out their role. This includes a sound understanding of the act, Vishaka Guidelines, and relevant laws. They should have the ability to synthesize information, communicate effectively, and conduct impartial interviews. The IC must also be trained in skills and capacity to carry out a fair and informed inquiry into a complaint.
Do you want to hire an external member on your internal committee? Would you like to train your IC members? If yes, then please reach out to us, as PoSHHelp is an offshoot of Spherule foundation, a NGO. Our organization has been actively involved in addressing the crucial issues of women empowerment and fighting against sexual harassment, and we have garnered wealth of experience in the process.