top of page

Frequently Asked Questions

1. I am a small organisation with only men. Do I need to have a POSH policy? 

All organisations with >10 employees (even if they are only men) need to have a POSH policy and IC.

2. Is it mandatory to post details of the POSH IC committee in the office or on an organisation website?

In short: Post IC committee details in offices, field camps, website and share via email. Details of the POSH IC committee should be displayed in the office, major field camps, and other physical places frequented by employees. It would be ideal to share these details on email or organisation messaging platforms and/or HR databases, such that these are accessible to all employees. It is now also recommended to post them on the organisation website.

3. Are public spaces (e.g, public transport, share cabs) that employees visit while undertaking work considered as           ‘workplace’?

In short: All spaces visited in the course of work are ‘workplaces’. Yes. Any public space that is occupied in the course of performing work duties like shared cabs, public transport, workplace retreats, workplace celebrations are covered under definition of workplace. What is crucial to see if these spaces were occupied in the course of work. A personal event hosted by a workplace colleague would not be covered under the definition of “workplace”. However, if there is a power hierarchy, and a social event is organised as part of work, or if a senior colleague calls junior colleagues for a social event outside of work hours, this can also be considered as part of the workplace.

4. Does the POSH policy only cover employee-employer sexual harassment? What happens with nonemployee-employee harassment (while undertaking work), i.e., if the respondent is a non-employee? And is the IC obliged to take action for employee-nonemployee harassment (while undertaking work), i.e., if the complainant is a non-employee?

In short: All complaints against employees fall under POSH, ie., cases where the accused is an employee (irrespective of who the aggrieved person is). The IC covers all complaints of sexual harassment during the course of work against all organisation members. ie., the accused/respondent has to be an employee/member. Temporary workers, interns and even visitors are also covered under the POSH law+policy. It is recommended that this is clearly laid out in the organisation POSH policy. The complainant does not have to be an employee/member. If a complaint is brought against an organisation employee/member by an nonemployee, the IC is obliged to take up the complaint (so long as it pertains to sexual harassment during the course of work). If an employee has a complaint against a nonemployee, the IC can help the complainant lodge a formal complaint with the IC of the accused/respondent’s organisation IC, or the District Officer, or the police.

5. The POSH Act provides the IC with jurisdictions over complaints filed within 3 months of the incident (to be extended by six months). Do organisations have the flexibility to extend this, as they deem appropriate, or on a case-by-case basis?

To clarify, the complaints need to be 3 months from the last incident of harassment. This time period can be extended if the aggrieved person cannot make a complaint on grounds of physical and mental incapacity.

6. What action can the IC take if the complainant is not a woman?

In short: Depends on whether the organisation’s POSH policy is gender neutral (recommended). While the law currently covers women only (i.e., the law does not mandate that POSH policies be gender neutral), organisational POSH policies can be gender-neutral and cover men as well. If the organisation’s policy covers men, the IC would have to take up complaints filed by men.

7. Does the IC lose some jurisdictional power if the organisation would like to go beyond the strict mandates of the law, e.g., extend to all aggrieved persons?  Eg. Can the power of an IC to function like a civil court still be retained regardless of the complainant’s gender if the institution has a gender neutral policy?

In short: For such cases as is covered by law, the IC has civil court-like powers. For such cases as is not covered by law, the IC will work as provided in the POSH policy of the organisation. While the IC can function like a civil court as stated in the policy, the decision may not be binding under law, under such cases that are not covered by law. It would be advisable that in such cases organisations take a call and take action specifically related to the perpetrator’s employment. The perpetrators, in such cases, are free to challenge the decision in court. Notwithstanding this, it is recommended that organisations have a gender neutral POSH policy as this signals inclusion and protection to all genders in the workplace.

8. Ideally, if there is a conflict of interest in the case of a particular complaint, then committee members should recuse themselves, or the IC should be reconstituted. How does this play out in practice?

In short: IC to be reconstituted in case of conflict of interest, before any proceedings. The IC has to be reconstituted in case there is a possibility of bias. The test for this is whether a right-minded person would think that there is a real likelihood of bias because the particular person is a member of the IC. If the IC believes that at a later point bias may be raised by the aggrieved party, it would be advisable that the member be recused before the IC conducts the proceedings.

9. If the respondent or the complainant is the head of the institution, what implications does this have?

Both these situations can lead to procedural complications and it is best to consult a lawyer who has experience with POSH procedures.

10. What are the mandated training requirements for organisations?

In short: Conduct trainings once a year for all employees by a trained professional. Organisations are required to conduct trainings once a year for the employees and separately, for members of the IC. These trainings should be by a professional well-versed in POSH regulations. Video trainings for field personnel can be used if they are unable to physically attend trainings, but these video trainings need to be conducted by a trained professional or made by trained professionals. It is not advised for employees to conduct trainings.

11. Is there a requirement for an annual IC report, and to whom should it be submitted?

Yes, an annual IC report is mandatory and needs to be submitted to the District Officer every year.

bottom of page