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Viny   21 June 2017

Need advice - prevention of sexual harassment at workplace

Dear Seniors,

Please advice if a policy on "Prevention of s*xual harassment at workplace" can be officially circulated without having an external member into the Internal Committee. The idea is to float the policy internally for awareness and add the extrenal member into the committe later (yet to be identified). Will such commitee (without the external member) be valid to take action in case of a complaint being formed. 

Thank you in advance. 



Learning

 12 Replies

Arjun Kohli   21 June 2017

Hi

First of all, according to S. 4(c) of the Sexual Harassment Act, 2013, an external member (from an NGO or associations committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with issues relating to s*xual harassment) is necessary to constitute the Internal Committee. In your particular case, you’ve formulated the necessary regulations and established a committee as well, subject to the selection of an external member. Given the urgent nature of these complaints, in my opinion, it should be valid for the committee to take an action on any complaints, as per the law. However, for any decision of theirs to be lawful, I think you will require the presence of a lawfully constituted committee and the same should not be a problem, given your willingness to select the external member (which I assume to be a priority of yours).

As far as the matter of floating the policy for awareness, I think you can go ahead with the circulation of the policy, given the urgent nature of the matter and since its primary motive is internal circulation. Lastly, I suggest you to prioritize the selection of such an external member, as it is a requirement of law.

Regards

POSH at Work   23 June 2017

Hi, won't repeat as the replies given above are correct. ideally you should not even circulate the policy until your internal committee is officially in place. You can check out our website www.poshatwork.com if you need any more clarity regarding this law and compliance under it. you can also get in touch with us if you are still looking for an external member. the ph no is 90045 21614. 

Viny   23 June 2017

Dear all, thank you so much for your answers and the insights. They are really helpful. 

Even as per my understanding & experience, the first step of implemmenting the act is having the committee (with an external member)  in place and then circulating the policy officially. But an organisation i am associated with, is willing to create a committee (with internal members only) and circculate the policy for the awareness purpose (as the first step) and they plan to find and bring the external member later.

This mangement is insisting that an internal committee with a presiding officer (but without an external member) is valid to initiate an investigation in case a complaint being raised. Wheras it is cearly mentioned in the act that any such investigation and judgement is null and void without a qualifying external member being a part of the process. 

I am sure, I am right while suggesting that any such investigation is not valid & lawful without an external member. Kindly confirm. 

Thank you once again.. 

 

Viny   23 June 2017

Thanks for your reply. I will be touch with you on the given contact details. 

Regards.. 

Arjun Kohli   23 June 2017

  This mangement is insisting that an internal committee with a presiding officer (but without an external member) is valid to initiate an investigation in case a complaint being raised. Wheras it is cearly mentioned in the act that any such investigation and judgement is null and void without a qualifying external member being a part of the process. 

I am sure, I am right while suggesting that any such investigation is not valid & lawful without an external member. Kindly confirm. 

Thank you once again.. 

 

As I mentioned, it should be a priority of the management to include an external member as soon as possible to render any decision or investigation by the committee lawful. However, if any unfortunate incident occurs while the process of selection is going on, I believe that Committee can duly take cognizance of the complaint and initiate inquiry and as soon as the external member is brought into the fold, such member should be made aware about the entire proceedings, and if such member wishes to take some step for additional verification, I believe that can be accomodated, and thereafter the investigation, etc. can be concluded lawfully.

Justification of urgency of the nature of such complaints can be offered, in my opinion, as I mentioned earlier and if no serious prejudice is caused to any aspect of the case, I don't believe any issue may come up. But again, external member needs to be a priority to be on the safe side.

POSH at Work   23 June 2017

Yes you are absolutely right.

Kumar Doab (FIN)     24 June 2017

Yes, you are right.

darshana sawant (associate consultant)     26 June 2017

Dear Sir,

 

You may circulate the s*xual harassment committee if it has all the necessary legal ingredients however if it is challenged before any Authority there will be a question mark on its validity as per the provisions of the POSH Act 2013.  In that case you have to show the urgency in circulating the policy without an external panelist, so also there will be questions about its enforcibility since it has been applicable since 2013.

Viny   26 June 2017

Thanks everyone for your replies. Your views are extremly helpful to have all the clarifications i needed in this case. 

Thank you once again. 

Sudhir Kumar, Advocate (Advocate)     26 June 2017

You have not even stated whether you are in a govt organisation or not.

Viny   26 June 2017

Thanks for your reply. It's a private company registered under the shop act. Rgds.

Kumar Doab (FIN)     26 June 2017

For such matters let the legal cell or a very able local senior counsel specalizing in such/Labor/service matters advise you.


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