The COVID times have led the world to a new normal as traditional working models are being transformed to support the functioning of the corporate in the wake of the global pandemic. Now that most of the workplaces have turned to a work from home set up due to coronavirus outspread, new systems are being designed to cope up with the changing times. Not just to deal with the current situation but also to safeguard ourselves from any similar future mishaps.
However, as people moved to the virtual workspaces to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus, they didn’t realize that they were inviting colleagues, clients, and supervisors into their living rooms and bedrooms. Although an informal work environment was built with the help of the camera and internet, which some claim to have improved productivity, it has also brought along an old disease that hasn’t been cured yet: Sexual Harassment at Workplace.
According to the National Commission for Women data, following the lockdown, the number of crimes against women have risen up. Most of the complaints received involve allegations of discrimination or harassment such as getting requests for video calls at odd hours, taking pictures, stalking by colleagues on social media, and sending inappropriate messages on personal phones. Therefore, it has become important to have your POSH mechanisms extended to the work from home situation as well. It is to be noted here that Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal Act, 2013 covers work from home under the definition of ‘extended workplace’. Here’s what you can do to make your virtual workplace POSH compliant:
Make sure you sensitize your IC team about taking online complaints and conducting online enquiries
It is the need of the hour to endow time in capacity building training sessions to educate the Internal Committee members on the applicability of the POSH Act on virtual workspaces. To state a few pointers, the training sessions should involve questions such as what is the format for conducting online enquiries, recording minutes, sharing of notices and summons with aggrieved person , respondent, witness, maintaining confidentiality, managing biases during online enquiries.
Make sure you educate your senior management of their roles to create a safe virtual workspace
To create a safe virtual working environment, it is integral to organize POSH training sessions for the senior management of your organization. Capacity building workshops and training sessions for the senior management are specially designed to educate them on the aspect of creating a safe work from home culture while also improving the safety of the virtual workspace. It is important to note that the POSH act applies to all the individual we interact with while on work operations, including the customers, vendors, collaborators suppliers, agents, and so on.
Make sure your employees are aware that your POSH policy covers the work from home situation
First of all, it is essential to align the POSH policy of your organization with the procedures of filing of complaint online, revise interim reliefs, manner of conducting the enquiry, etc. Secondly, it is important that the same is communicated to all the employees so that they are aware of the penalties and reliefs involved in case of a sexual harassment at workplace incident while working virtually. The POSH policy is an integral part of the organizations POSH compliance as it helps employees, consultants, partners, stakeholders understand the POSH mechanisms of the organization.