POSH – Far Beyond Compliances – Part I

The Constitutional doctrine of equality and personal liberty is contained in Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Indian Constitution. These articles ensure a person’s right to equal protection under the law, to live a life free from discrimination on any ground and to protection of life and personal liberty. Furthermore, UN General Assembly has adopted Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1979.

Sexual harassment constitutes a gross violation of women’s right to equality and dignity. It causes serious harm to the society by encouraging parents to do gender discrimination amongst children and may even lead to female immortality and survival of lesser number of female children.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal Act), 2013 came into force with an aim to ensure safe working spaces for women and empowering them to report any smallest adverse event that hampers their dignity and tries to take away their equal right of opportunity. It basically aims at WOMEN EMPOWERMENT.

However still it is strange that most working women do not report such matters to proper authority in the organization due to the fear of losing one’s livelihood, professional standing, reputation, peer pressure etc. Hence, this Act calls for right measures and procedural steps to ensure that all men or women is safe from any kind of sexual harassment at workplace. Vishaka Vs. State of Rajasthan is a milestone case in which Supreme Court of India created legally binding guidelines on the matter for the first time in 1997. Thereafter, this Act came into force.

The act is aimed at Prohibition, Prevention and Redress. It is important to note that the Act provides a civil remedy to women which is in addition to any other criminal proceedings that she can opt.

So, starting with brief of the Act, a “workplace” is defined as any place visited by the employee arising out of or during the course of employment, including transportation provided by the employer for undertaking such a journey.” As per this definition, a workplace covers both the organised and un-organised sectors. It also includes all workplaces whether owned by Indian or foreign company having a place of work in India. So, workplace includes:

* Government organizations, including Government company, corporations and cooperative;

* Private sector organisations, venture, society, trust, NGO or service providers etc. providing services which are commercial, vocational, educational, sports, professional, entertainment, industrial, health related or financial activities, including production, supply, sale, distribution or service;

* Hospitals/Nursing Homes;

* Sports Institutes/Facilities;

* Places visited by the employee (including while on travel) including transportation provided by employer;

*  A dwelling place or house.

Furthermore, the Act defines Unorganised Sectors as:

* Any enterprise owned by an individual or self-employed workers engaged in the production or sale of goods or providing services of any kind;

* Any enterprise which employs less than 10 workers.

Hence, the coverage of the Act is mentioned herein. We shall proceed to cover the definition of sexual harassment, compliances to be done by organisations and other key highlights in the next part of the Article.

  • By CS Bhavya Taneja
Bhavya Taneja
Bhavya Taneja
Bhavya Taneja is a Practicing Company Secretary, speaker on various academic and non-academic topics and a writer. She has an experience of 8 years as a professional and 5 years as a faculty of Economics. She has authored a book of quotes called 'Crisp Talkings' and is actively involved in social welfare activities as well.

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