In a society that strives for equality and respect, the workplace stands as a crucial battleground. Women, who constitute a significant portion of the workforce today, deserve an environment free from harassment and discrimination.
Recognizing the importance of upholding women’s rights and addressing the lapses in implementing the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (PoSH Act), the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has recently issued directives that demand attention. These directives were issued on May 12, 2023, by a panel of judges consisting of Justice A.S. Bopanna and Justice Hima Kohli following the case of Aureliano Fernandes vs State of Goa and Others.
It shed light on the challenges faced and outline the path towards effective implementation, serving as a wake-up call for organizations to create a safer and more inclusive work culture.
The PoSH Act: Empowering Women and Promoting Dignity
Enacted in 2013, the PoSH Act serves as a powerful instrument to protect women from sexual harassment in the workplace. It not only emphasizes the need for prevention and prohibition of such misconduct but also provides a robust mechanism for redressal. The Act defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome physical, verbal, or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature and mandates the establishment of Internal Complaints Committees (ICCs) in organizations with 10 or more employees.
The Supreme Court’s Observations: Identifying the Gaps
Despite the PoSH Act’s noble objectives, the Supreme Court has expressed concerns over its implementation and highlighted significant gaps that hinder its effectiveness. These gaps include:
l A lack of awareness about the Act among working women and employers
l Insufficient training for ICC members
l A lack of confidentiality in the complaint-handling process, and
l Instances of retaliation against complainants.
Recognizing the urgency to address these issues, the Supreme Court has issued directives to rectify the shortcomings and pave the way for a safer work environment.
The Path to Effective Implementation: Key Directives Unveiled for Corporates
To ensure the successful implementation of the PoSH Act, the Supreme Court has outlined several directives that demand immediate attention and action. Let’s delve into the core directives that can make a tangible difference:
- Verification Exercise: The Central and State Governments are tasked with conducting a time-bound verification exercise to ensure that all government and private organizations have established Internal Committees in strict adherence to the provisions of the PoSH Act. This exercise aims to verify compliance and promote accountability.
- Transparency and Accessibility: Organizations must provide comprehensive details of their constituted Internal Committees, including contact information, on their official websites. Additionally, the procedure for submitting complaints, relevant rules, regulations, and internal policies must be easily accessible and regularly updated. This transparency empowers employees and ensures a streamlined process for reporting incidents of sexual harassment.
- Training and Guidance: Management and employers hold a crucial responsibility to familiarize Internal Committee members with their duties and proper procedures for conducting inquiries. Through comprehensive training and guidance, organizations can enable their Internal Committees to handle complaints effectively, ensuring a fair and unbiased investigation process.
- Orientation Programs and Awareness: Regular orientation programs, workshops, seminars, and awareness campaigns should be conducted by management and employers to enhance the skills and knowledge of Internal Committee members. Additionally, educating women employees about the provisions of the Act helps raise awareness and empowers them to assert their rights.
The Implications for Employers: A Call for Proactive Measures
The Supreme Court’s directives send a clear message to employers: the responsibility for creating a safe and secure work environment rests squarely on their shoulders. The lack of awareness and inadequately functioning Internal Committees pose a significant challenge to effective implementation. Employers must step up and take proactive measures to comply with the PoSH Act, fostering an atmosphere where every employee feels respected and protected.
Embracing Change for a Safer Future
The Supreme Court’s directives for effective implementation of the PoSH Act serve as a wake-up call for organizations to prioritize the well-being and safety of their employees. At CecureUs, we understand that it is imperative to bridge the gaps that hinder the Act’s effectiveness, ensuring awareness, sensitivity, and proactive measures. Our goal is to assist our clients in navigating the directives, fostering a culture of respect, equality, and safety within their workplaces. Let us join hands in making a positive impact and building a safer future for everyone.
At Cecureus, we recommend using the content below to update your website.
Zero Tolerance to Sexual Harassment at <Company name>
As per the Sexual Harassment of Women at workplace Act, 2013 in India, the <Company> has constituted Internal Committee (“IC”) in all the branches across India.
We believe in zero tolerance of Sexual harassment at the workplace for all employees/suppliers/customers/contractors/visitors etc. We also have a strong governance mechanism in the form of POSH Internal Committee “IC”, to prevent, prohibit and redress any complaints of sexual harassment. For any clarifications or queries on sexual harassment, please write to < POSH Email id >. Our Internal committee is Headed by <Name, designation>, and includes other Internal Senior members and External Members as part of the Investigative Council.
We follow a Fair, unbiased and gender-neutral approach in the redressal of all such complaints. Complaints received are classified and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken ranging from a warning to termination of employment, as the case may be. We strongly believe in promoting a culture of mutual respect for all.
Please reach out to us for any queries on Supreme Court’s directives for effective implementation of the PoSH Act.