Awareness on Sexual Harassment of Women At Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013: Part 4

This is Part 4 of the 5 part series blog which will cover the Duties & responsibilities of the Employer & District Officer and Punishment for non compliance of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

Part 1 covered the general overview along with the background that laid foundation for the existing Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

Part 2 covered the constitution, tenure, powers and duties of the Complaints committee under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

Part 3 covered the Complaint and Redressal mechanism of the Complaints committee under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

harassmentIntroduction

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (hereinafter referred to as thePOSH Act”) defines Employer to mean “any person responsible for managing, heading, supervision and control of any department, organization, undertaking, establishment, enterprise, institution, office, branch or unit, workplace etc. It also covers any person who is discharging contractual obligations with respect to his / her employees.” [1]  The Act provides obligation to the Employer to form an Internal Complaints committee (hereinafter referred to as “ICC”), provide a safe working environment, proper complaint and Redressal mechanism, organize workshops and initiate strict actions against the accused for the misconduct. District Officer means an officer notified by the appropriate Government under section 5 of the POSH Act. The District Officer is responsible to receive complaints of sexual harassment from establishments where Internal Complaints Committee (hereinafter referred to as “ICC”) has not been constituted due to having less than ten workers or if the complaint is against the employer himself.

 Duties of Employer

Section 19 of the POSH Act lays down duties of the Employer. Most important duties of the Employer are to:

  1. Establish an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC);
  2. Provide Internal Committee with all necessary facilities for effectively dealing with the complaint and conducting an inquiry;
  3. Publish POSH Policy;
  4. Provide a workplace which is safe and has conducive working environment;
  5. Display the consequences of sexual harassment at a clearly visible place and also display the order of the Internal Committee in a workplace;
  6. Organize workshops and awareness programmes for sensitizing the employees;
  7. Conduct skill enhancing seminars for ICC members;
  8. Assist in reporting incidents of Sexual harassment at workplace;
  9. Make available such information to the Internal Committee as it may require having regard to the complaint;
  10. Sexual harassment to be treated as a misconduct;
  11. Monitor timely submission of report by ICC;
  12. Initiate action against the perpetrator;
  13. Prepare and file the annual report.

Duties of District Officer

Section 20 of the POSH Act lays down duties of the District Officer, which are to:

  1. Monitor the timely submission of report furnished by the Local Committee;
  2. Engaging non-governmental organizations for creation of awareness on sexual harassment and the rights of the women.
  3. Submit the brief of annual reports to the State government.

Penalty for non compliance with the provisions of the POSH act

Section 26 of the POSH Act lays down the Penalty for Non Compliance of the Act.

Non compliance with the POSH Act by the Employer can result in heavy monetary penalty upto INR 50,000 if he/she fails to:

  • Constitute Internal Complaints Committee (ICC);
  • Fails to act upon the complaints of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC);
  • Contravening or attempts to contravene or abetting contravention of provisions of this Act or rule;
  • Fails to file an annual report with the District officer.

Employer being convicted of the same offence under this Act shall be liable to:

  • Twice the punishment of the first conviction;
  • Result in cancellation of the licence or
  • Withdrawal/ non-renewal/ approval/ cancellation of the registration. 

Conclusion

Section 19 of the POSH Act lays down duties of the Employer and Compliance of POSH Act results in a healthy work environment. Non Compliance of the POSH Act results in incurring of the legal and financial costs, create an unsafe workplace that can lead to general impairment of the employee’s psychological well-being and thereby reducing the productivity. Compliance with the POSH Act makes workplace which is safe, displaces the fears and discomfort of employees, increases employee satisfaction, reduces employee turnover and saves companies from other costs associated with sexual harassment.

Part 5 of this series will discuss the Powers and Duties of the appropriate Government along with some Frequently asked questions around the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

Author: Ms. Chhavi Pande – Sr. Associate Litigation  at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorney,  in case of any queries please contact/write back to us via email chhavi@khuranaandkhurana.com

References:

[1]Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, A2013-14.pdf (legislative.gov.in)/ (last visited Feb 6, 2022).

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