What can employers do to provide a safe working environment under Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace (POSH), 2013?

Last Updated at: Jul 25, 2020
The supreme court said that the sexual harassment at an office space is a “affront” to a women’s basic rights to freedom, to her right to live with dignity and to exercise any profession or to do any job.This was observed by the highest court while enforcing the Madhya Pradesh High Court verdict that had curtailed a transfer order from a woman bank employee who had pointed allegations of sexual misconduct against her senior official.


An employer is a person who is responsible for the management and takes control of the workplace. The duty of the employer is to take disciplinary action against the employees involved in sexual harassment. The law has provided many duties to the employer. The duties start at the time when an employer needs to set up an internal complaints committee to ensure that victim can file their complaints and seek redressal to that complaints and end it when the employer has delivered required data, in accordance with the requirements of the law, in relation to sexual harassment in its annual reports. According to the law, employers should treat sexual harassment as a misconduct and take required action for such misconduct. Law also mentions that employers should focus on ‘prevention’ of sexual harassment and take the required preventive measures.  

Some of the preventive measures that employers can take to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace:

1) Providing a safe working environment at the workplace which also includes safety from the individuals coming into contact at the workplace.

2) Displays at any visible place in the workplace about the disciplinary actions taken against sexual harassments, order constituting in the act and internal committee.

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3) Organize workshops and awareness programs at fixed intervals for alerting the employees with the provisions of the Act and orientation programs for the members present in the internal committee. When it comes to the workshops and awareness programs, the employer should-

a) Articulate and extensively circulate an internal policy or resolution or charter or declaration for prevention, prohibition and redressal of sexual harassment at the workplace intended to promote gender profound safe spaces and remove underlying factors that contribute towards an unfriendly work environment against women.

b) Carrying out employee awareness programs and the creating platform for dialogues which may involve Panchayati Raj Institutions, gram sabha, mothers committee, women groups, adolescent groups, urban local bodies and any other body which are considered to be necessary for conducting capacity building and skill building programs for the members of the internal committee.

c) Declaring the names and communication details of all the members of the internal committee

d) Using modules developed by the local governments while conducting workshops and awareness programs for alerting the employees with the provisions of the Act

4) Providing enough facilities to the internal committee for dealing with the complaints received and conducting an inquiry.

5) Assisting the internal committee in securing the attendance of respondent and witnesses.

6) Providing the important information to the internal committee which it requires regarding the complaint.

7) Providing assistance to the victim if she so chooses to file a complaint under the Indian Penal Code relating to the offense.

8) Try to initiate action, under the Indian Penal Code or any other law, against the perpetrator, or if the distressed woman so desires, if the perpetrator is not an employee in the workplace at which the event of sexual harassment took place.

9) Treating sexual harassment as a misconduct and taking required actions against such misconduct.

10) Monitoring the reports submitted by the internal committee from time to time.

The internal complaints committee which is set up in the workplace is required to prepare an annual report in each calendar and submit the same to the employer and the District Officer. The annual report should consist of the number of cases filed and disposed of and the number of workshops and the awareness programs against sexual harassment that had been carried out by the organization. This main reason behind collecting these data record by the organization is because of three reasons-

a) The government can call any employer to provide any information relating to sexual harassment at any point in time. The government also inspects records related to the workplace and every employer is required to cooperate with the same.

b) If the employer does not comply with the law then he/she needs to pay penalty and penalty sometimes includes cancellation of license to do business.