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FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the law dealing with Sexual harassment at the workplace?

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“POSH Act”) was enacted to provide a safe, secure and enabling environment, free from sexual harassment.
Under the POSH Act, an employer is legally required to comply with certain statutory requirements. One of these is the constitution of an Internal Committee (“IC”), a body envisaged to receive complaints on sexual harassment at the workplace as well as to inquire into and make recommendations to the employer on the action required pursuant to its inquiry of such complaint made.

What constitutes Sexual Harassment at the workplace?

Sexual Harassment is any unwelcome act or behavior (whether express or implied), such as:-

  • Physical contact or advance
  • A demand or request for sexual favors
  • Making sexually colored remarks
  • Showing pornography
  • Any other physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.

 

Sexual harassment at workplace can take various forms and can involve conduct such as unwelcome touching, staring or leering, suggestive comments or jokes and unwanted or persistent requests to go out among other acts. For a more detailed list of behaviors that can be regarded as sexual harassment please write to us at mail@genderlegal.com.

What is unwelcome sexual conduct?

Any behavior which has sexual overtones and has a negative impact on the person subjected to such behavior is considered as unwelcome sexual conduct.

Does the act of sexual harassment have to occur at the workplace?

No. The act does not necessarily have to occur at workplace as traditionally understood. As per the POSH Act, ‘workplace’ includes any place visited by the employee arising out of or during the course of employment, including transportation provided by the employer for the purpose of commuting to and from the place of employment It could occur in any of the following places:

  • Social event arising out of employment.
  • During work-related travel,
  • At a client or customer’s premises,
  • At training events, business lunches or dinners, promotional campaigns or public relations events with clients, customers or prospective partners or
  • During the course of work-related phone conversations or communications via electronic media.
If I am a victim of sexual harassment, what should I do?

You can approach the Internal Committee established within your organization under POSH Act with a written complaint. Or

In case, your organisation does not have IC or if you want to make a complaint against the employer himself or if you work in the capacity of domestic help, then you can lodge your complaint with Local Committee established in your respective district under the POSH Act. Or,
You can contact the nearest police station to lodge an FIR against the perpetrator.

What is Internal Committee (IC)?

Every organization has to constitute an Internal Committee (IC) consisting of atleast 4 members who are required to receive and act on complaints received by them regarding sexual harassment at the workplace.

What is Local Committee (LC)?

The State Government will notify the District Magistrate/Additional District Magistrate/ Collector/ Deputy Collector as District Officer in every district, who will constitute a Local Committee (LC) so as to enable women in the unorganized sector or small establishments to work in an environment free of sexual harassment. Give contact details of LC in Pune.

What if my organisation does not have an IC constituted?

Non constitution of Complaints Committee is punishable with a fine of Rs. 50,000/- and repeat offenders can be punished with cancellation/withdrawal of license/registration required for carrying on business activities. The aggrieved can approach the court to complain about the same.

Who can make a complaint?
  • Aggrieved individual herself,
  • in case of physical incapacity her/his relative, friend, co worker, Officer of National Commission or State Commission of Women or any person who has knowledge of incident with the written consent of complainant.
  • In case of mental incapacity her/his relative, Friend, Special educator, Qualified psychiatrist or psychologist, Guardian or authority under whose care she/he is receiving treatment or care
  • Any person who has knowledge of incident jointly with any person mentioned above
  • In case the aggrieved individual is unable to file complain for any other reason, by any person who has knowledge of incident with her/her written consent
How to make a complaint of sexual harassment at workplace under the POSH Act?

In case, you are unable to submit written complaint, the IC will have to provide you with all the necessary assistance.

How to make a complaint of sexual harassment at workplace under the SH Act?

In case you are unable to submit written complaint, the IC will have to provide you with all the necessary assistance.

What will the IC do when a complaint is submitted to it?

The IC is legally bound to conduct a time bound inquiry into the complaint by calling all the concerned parties i.e. complainant, respondent [the person(s) against whom complaint is being made], witnesses etc. Later, on the basis of the testimonies of the concerned parties and evidences (documentary or otherwise) gathered, the Committee will make its recommendations to the management for further action.

Can the complainant ask for some interim relief during the inquiry from IC?

During the inquiry, at the written request of complainant, IC can provide following interim reliefs to the complainant:

  • Transfer the complainant or respondent to any other place
  • Grant leave to the complainant for upto 3 months in addition to her entitled leave
  • Restrain the respondent from reporting on the work performance/ writing confidential report of aggrieved
  • Restrain the respondent from supervising academic activities of aggrieved
Does the inquiry by the IC have to be completed in a given time frame?

Yes, the SH Act envisages a time bound inquiry that needs to be completed within 90 days of receiving a complaint.

What about maintaining confidentiality of the cases related to sexual harassment at workplace?

The Act prohibits the disclosure of:

  • Identity and address of complainant, respondent and witnesses
  • Information pertaining to conciliatory/ inquiry proceedings or recommendation of ICC or action taken by the employer.
  • Breach of confidentially will invite a penalty of Rs. 5,000/- which will be collected by the employer
  • Exception: Dissemination of information regarding the justice secured without disclosure of name, address, identity and particulars of complainant or witnesses
What are the obligations of employer under the SH Act?

Formulation of an Anti Sexual Harassment Policy

Display within organisations the penal consequences of sexual harassment at places where it could be viewed by majority of the people

Create an ICC at each location and display their contact details

Sensitization and training of employees and ICC members

Provide administrative support and monitor timely submission of reports by ICC

Mention the number of cases filed and disposed of under the SH Act within organisation’s annual report.

Can I register both FIR and lodge complaint with Complaints Committee at the same time?

Yes, a woman if she chooses to do so may both file the FIR with the police and complaint with Complaints Committee simultaneously.

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