Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

High Court Lucknow

Article

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Sexual harassment at the workplace is a serious issue that affects women across all industries and sectors. In India, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, commonly known as the POSH Act, was enacted to address this issue. In this blog post, we will provide an in-depth analysis of the POSH Act and its provisions.

What is the POSH Act?

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, is a law enacted by the Indian government to prevent and prohibit sexual harassment of women at the workplace. The act was passed in response to the Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan case, which highlighted the need for legislation to address sexual harassment at the workplace.

Who does the POSH Act apply to?

The POSH Act applies to all workplaces in India, whether they are public or private, and whether they employ paid or unpaid workers. The act applies to all women, including temporary, contract, and probationary employees, as well as interns, volunteers, and apprentices.

What is sexual harassment?

According to the POSH Act, sexual harassment includes any unwelcome sexual gesture, behavior, or conduct that is sexually suggestive, whether verbal, physical, or written. It can also include any demand or request for sexual favors, or any sexually explicit or derogatory remarks. Sexual harassment can occur in any workplace setting, including offices, factories, shops, and other work-related locations.

What are the key provisions of the POSH Act?

The POSH Act contains several key provisions, including the following:

  1. Establishment of Internal Complaints Committee (ICC)

The act requires every workplace with 10 or more employees to establish an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to receive complaints of sexual harassment. The ICC should consist of a presiding officer who is a woman employed at a senior level in the organization, at least one member from an NGO committed to women’s rights, and at least two other members who are employees of the organization.

  1. Duty of employers

Employers are required to provide a safe working environment for women, free from sexual harassment. They are also required to display the provisions of the POSH Act prominently in the workplace and provide information on how to file a complaint of sexual harassment.

  1. Complaints procedure

The act sets out a detailed procedure for filing a complaint of sexual harassment, including provisions for the confidentiality of the complaint and the protection of the complainant from victimization or retaliation.

  1. Investigation and inquiry

The ICC is responsible for conducting an inquiry into the complaint of sexual harassment and submitting a report to the employer. The employer is required to take appropriate action based on the findings of the ICC.

  1. Penalties for non-compliance

Employers who fail to comply with the provisions of the POSH Act can face penalties, including fines and cancellation of licenses or registration.

Conclusion

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, is a crucial piece of legislation that provides a framework for preventing and addressing sexual harassment in the workplace. The act places the responsibility on employers to create a safe and secure environment for women and establishes a detailed complaints procedure for reporting incidents of sexual harassment. By implementing the provisions of the POSH Act, organizations can create a work environment that is free from sexual harassment, promotes gender equality, and respects the dignity of every employee.