POSH Act orientation under way for commercial establishments

Women and Child Development Department organises programme for both male and female staff. More such programmes on the cards

Women and Child Development Department organises programme for both male and female staff. More such programmes on the cards

As a follow-up to its orientation programme for internal committee (IC) members of institutions in the government sector on the POSH (Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013, the Women and Child Development department in the district has launched a programme for private sector establishments too.

Awareness sessions have been held for employees of commercial establishments with a good number of female staff, and more are on the cards in the district.

District Women and Child Development Officer Sabeena Beegam S. said in the past two years, the department had conducted a campaign through their block and panchayat level officers to cover all establishments in their project area and give notice for constituting the IC where these did not exist.

The department followed it up with nearly 40 online orientation sessions for IC members of government sector institutions on what the responsibilities of the IC were, how it should intervene, and what it should do if a problem arose.

This year, it was decided to focus on private sector establishments. Besides orientations organised by block level officials for private sector establishments, district-level programmes are also being held. Communications have been sent to nearly 50 establishments.

Programmes have been held for both male and female employees of three large commercial establishments in the city, and more are scheduled in days to come. Some establishments are yet to respond.

One establishment offered to depute a few women from their total staff strength for the session, but it was impressed upon them that POSH Act awareness was intended for all staff, including men. Some establishments have ICs that have even met, but the ICs did not have an external member as mandated by the POSH Act.

One establishment said they had an IC but had kept it a secret, as they felt, strangely, that women would be reluctant to complain if it became public. The POSH Act, however, stipulates a penalty of ₹50,000 if the IC is not formed. Also, employers are required to publicise the IC and display details of IC members in conspicuous places.

In one establishment when the staff were asked how many of them knew of the existence of IC in their workplace, only two hands went up.

Male staff wanted to know what happened if no evidence could be found to support a woman’s complaint, and if action could be taken against a woman for filing a false complaint. They were informed about the difference between lack of evidence on a complaint and a false complaint.

Some women asked how and where could they approach the local committee stipulated under the Act. The staff were informed that the Act was also applicable if the staff at these establishments were harassed by customers on the premises.

Safer workplaces could be ensured if the implementation of the POSH Act was audited in these commercial establishments, the officials said.

Leave a Comment