Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Women in the Workplace

Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Women in the Workplace

What does the PoSH Law say about Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Women in the Workplace

Sexual harassment is a harsh reality of today’s workplaces. Women empowerment has brought women to the workplace but it is yet to become a space where women feel safe. 

In fact, cases of sexual harassment reported an increase of 45% from 371 in 2014 to 539 in 2017.

This only proves that sexual harassment will only increase in the workplace if something isn’t done quickly. 

The PoSH Law

For women, sexual harassment has always followed them in the workplace. And the government hasn’t done anything about it until 1997. After the landmark Vishakha judgment, the need for an anti-sexual harassment law became a necessity. This lead to the development of the PoSH law. 

The PoSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment in the workplace) has thus been protecting women against workplace sexual harassment and help in creating healthy workplaces for women. 

Major Provisions of the PoSH Law

The government understood that sexual harassment is not limited to the designated offices and why women do not speak up against it. So the law developed not only protected women under all circumstances but also took necessary actions to prevent sexual harassment in the future.

Definition of workplace

As discussed, the government understood that sexual harassment isn’t limited to the designated office. So the government clearly the term ‘workplace’ to protect women who have been sexually harassed outside of the designated office. According to the PoSH law, the term ‘workplace’ includes -
  • Any department, organization, undertaking, owned, controlled or managed by the government as well as any private sector organization or a private venture, undertaking, enterprise, and institution.
  • Any/every place visited by the employee during the course of employment including transportation.
  • Non-traditional workplaces that involve telecommuting and virtual spaces are covered under the law.

The behavior implied as sexual harassment

The law was clear to define the term workplace. Similarly, the law clearly defines what is and what isn’t sexual harassment. It was important to do so since sexual harassment is often overlooked by women because they are unable to identify it. According to the PoSH law, the following amounts to sexual harassment in the workplace - 

  • Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in employment
  • The implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in employment
  • The implied or explicit threat about the present or future employment

How does the law Prevent Sexual Harassment?

The government knew that having a law in place wouldn’t end sexual harassment. Something more had to be done to make workplaces safe for women. For this reason, the law made it compulsory for any employer with 10 (or more) employees to conduct anti-sexual harassment training in the organization. 

With more awareness among employees, not only women are more encouraged to report sexual harassment but the incidence of sexual harassment has considerably decreased. There are various organizations like Rainmaker, that are dedicated to reducing sexual harassment in the workplace by training employees, managers, and even employers.  

Make your organization a safe workplace today.
Sexual Harassment can have a Major Financial Impact on your Business - Vigyan
Sexual harassment is present in most organizations today. And you as the employer might not be aware of it altogether. And it shouldn’t surprise you, employers are often unaware of sexual harassment in their organization because women who have been harassed do not report it. 

But this can cost you. 
Simply because you were not aware of what is happening in your organization. You might have to pay (a lot) for someone else’s crime. 

Financial Impact of Sexual Harassment on the Employer

  • Sexual harassment claims -  One of the youngest directors at Infosys, Phaneesh Murthy, was accused of sexual harassment by his executive secretary and was paid $3 million in the settlement. Imagine having to pay this big of an amount for someone else’s mistake? This could easily be your organization too. In fact, sexual harassment claims often go up to as much as $20 million. 
  • Impact on goodwill - The brand image that you’ve worked on for years or even decades will crumble from only one sexual harassment incident in the workplace. It can negatively impact your organization and all the hard work that you’ve put in all of the years to build your business. 
  • Impact on employees - It shouldn’t surprise you if your employees start to leave after an incidence of sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment can make any workplace hostile, especially for women. This decreases job satisfaction among employees and they start looking for a better organization with a better workplace. Not just this, you will face difficulties in hiring new employees since your organization has a bad reputation due to that one sexual harassment case. 

Non-Compliance to the PoSH Law

The PoSH law was enforced in 2013 to protect women against sexual harassment in the workplace. It has since made it compulsory for organizations with 10 (or more) employees to conduct anti-sexual harassment training to prevent any incidence of sexual harassment in the workplace. 

Is your organization PoSH compliant?

If not, there are going to be consequences. 

Non-compliance on your behalf can lead to - 
  • Non-compliance to the law can attract a financial penalty of Rs 50,000 which can go up to twenty-five lakhs or imprisonment or both. The term can last for as long as 3 years.
  • Once imprisoned for more than 9 months, a director cannot become a director again for a period of 5 years.

Is your Organization PoSH Compliant?

Sexual harassment and its impact on the organization can be prevented if organizations comply with the PoSH law and conduct anti-harassment training. 
Organizations like Rainmaker are solely dedicated to reducing sexual harassment from the workplace and conduct engaging awareness training among employees, managers, and even employer. 

Make your organization a safe working place with awareness training and prevent sexual harassment today. 

Prevent Sexual Harassment in your Organization Today - Blog planet

Sexual harassment in corporate offices has become a matter of concern now. Women are being exploited and lack of awareness and knowledge restricts them from standing up against sexual harassment. 

Since women do not report sexual harassment to the management, sexual harassment cases increase and the ones at fault do not face the fire for it. 

‘Will I be blamed for it?’ or ‘Was it really harassment or a friendly gesture?’ are some of the few questions that come up in the minds of women who have been harassed. For this reason, the government took the matter in their own hands to ensure women’s safety in the workplace. 

Origin of the PoSH Law

After the landmark Vishakha Judgement, Vishakha guidelines were enforced to protect women in the workplace. But soon the government realized that this isn’t enough to protect women from sexual harassment. This lead to the formation of the PoSH law. 

India’s first comprehensive legislation specifically addressing the issue of harassment at work – The PoSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace) Law was formulated to provide a safe and secure working environment for women and encouraging more women to work. 
What is Sexual Harassment Under the PoSH Law?
Identifying sexual harassment has been difficult for women for many reasons. Often sexual harassment is overlooked thinking that it was a ‘friendly gesture’ or ‘that’s not what the intention was.’ But both male and female employees need to understand that the intention does not matter - the impact does!

The easiest way to identify sexual harassment is by asking yourself - “Did that make me feel uncomfortable?” 

The law clearly defines what amounts to sexual harassment and here is what it says - 

“Sexual Harassment” includes unwelcome sexual behavior, whether directly or by implication, such as :

  • Physical contact and advances
  • Demand or request for sexual favors
  • Making sexually colored remarks
  • Showing pornography, or
  • Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature

Even a tap on the shoulder can amount to sexual harassment if it was unwelcome. For instance, if a coworker asks you out for dinner, it does not amount to sexual harassment. But if the same coworker repeatedly asks you after you have denied his request, calls you repeatedly or texts you, it amounts to sexual harassment. 
Prevent Sexual Harassment in your Organization
Identifying sexual harassment is the first step to preventing it. If women in your organization are aware of what amounts o sexual harassment they wouldn’t doubt their judgment and report it the right way. 

The PoSH law made it mandatory for any organization with 10 (or more) employees to conduct anti-harassment training among their employees, managers and even employees to spread awareness and prevent sexual harassment against women. 

Rainmaker is an organization dedicated to providing safe working places for women by conducting awareness and sensitization training modules. Its main motive is to remove sexual harassment from organizations and make it a healthy place for all employees to work. 

Is your organization PoSH compliant?

If not, do it today! Make your organization free from sexual harassment.