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POSH

Frequently Asked Questions

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Is it mandated to only protect women from sexual harassment at the workplace?

Though the POSH Act aims to address any and all forms of alleged acts of sexual harassment of women, nowadays organizations are choosing to take a more gender-neutral approach to sexual harassment.

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What is considered workplace for the purpose of sexual harassment?

Any act that happens in the “Workplace” will be under the purview of the POSH laws. Workplace includes: (a) office premises; (b) any location visited by an employee (including transport to and from office); (c) vendor’s/client’s office; (d) office parties/events; and (e) online events. Essentially, the intent of the law is to ensure employees are protected at all times where they are carrying out any part of their role.

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Is it mandated to ensure compliance with POSH law?

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is a social legislation for the protection of women against sexual harassment at workplace and for the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment. All organizations are required to ensure compliance with POSH laws, i.e. constitute internal committee, conduct awareness programmes for all employees, conduct training sessions for internal committee member, etc. Any non-compliance may lead to a fine of up to INR 50,000/-.

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What is sexual harassment?

“Sexual Harassment" has been defined very broadly under law and includes (whether directly or by implication): i. physical contact and advances; or ii. a demand or request for sexual favors; or iii. making sexually colored remarks; or iv. showing pornography; or iii. any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature. Some additional examples of Sexual Harassment: (a) an implied or overt promise of preferential/detrimental treatment; (b) an implied or overt threat about someone’s employment status; (c) any interference someone’s work or creating an intimidating or hostile work environment; (d) humiliating treatment likely to affect health or safety. Sexual Harassment cannot be defined in an exhaustive manner and is very subjective. It’s always the IMPACT that matters more than the INTENT.

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What are the duties of an employer under POSH ?

Under the POSH laws, the employer is responsible for ensuring that all the employees are provided a safe working environment. It’s important for every organisation to (a) formulate and publish an internal POSH policy with the names and contact details of all the members of the Internal Committee; (b) conduct regular orientation programmes, seminars, capacity building and skill building programmes for the members of the Internal Committee; (c) conduct awareness programmes for employees across levels at regular intervals; (d) treat sexual harassment as a misconduct and initiate action for such misconduct; and (e) monitor the timely submission of annual reports by the Internal Committee. It is the responsibility of the Internal Committee to investigate every compliant, including complaints against (i) other employees, (ii) vendors, (iii) clients, as long as the incident has occurred at the Workplace. Any non-compliance of the applicable POSH laws may lead to a fine of up to INR 50,000/-.

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