The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013, popularly known as the PoSH Act, is an essential law that aims to prevent and address sexual harassment against women in the workplace. The law was enacted on 9th December 2013 and came into effect on 9th December 2014. The PoSH Act India is a significant step towards promoting gender equality, women’s empowerment, and ensuring safe and healthy work environments for women.
The PoSH Act India covers all women who work, whether permanent, temporary, contractual, or casual. It applies to all workplaces, including the private sector, government offices, and NGOs. The law defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome act or behavior (verbal, non-verbal, or physical) of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. It includes but is not limited to, physical contact and advances, demand or request for sexual favors, sexually colored remarks, and showing pornography.
The PoSH Act India mandates all workplaces to set up an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to address sexual harassment complaints. The ICC comprises of a presiding officer, two members from the employees’ side, and one member from an NGO working in the field of women’s rights. The ICC has to investigate and dispose of complaints within 90 days. It can recommend actions like warning, censure, apology, compensation, and termination against the perpetrator.
The PoSH Act India also requires every workplace to have a complaint mechanism that provides for anonymity and confidentiality of the complainant, protection against victimization, and support services. Employers are obligated to conduct regular awareness programs on sexual harassment and the PoSH Act. Failure to comply with the law can lead to hefty penalties, including fines and imprisonment.
Sohini Mandal is an expert in the field of workplace harassment and has made significant contributions towards promoting awareness and implementation of the PoSH Act India