For prevention of sexual harassment at workplaces and to address the increasing number of complaints of sexual harassment, the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Laws (POSH) Act was introduced.
It is highly important for a workplace to be POSH compliant as non-compliance can cost exemplary damages and monetary penalties.
To redress the complaints of sexual harassment at workplace, it is mandatory to constitute an Internal Committee (IC) also known as Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) in workplaces where there are 10 employees or more. Further, where the offices or administrative units of the workplace are located at different places or levels, the IC shall have to be constituted at all administrative units or offices.
Composition of the Internal Committee as per POSH Laws
There has to be a minimum of four members for the IC and half of the members mandatorily have to be women.
The employer has to nominate the following members:
A presiding officer who has to be a woman employed at a senior level, from amongst the employees.
Minimum two members amongst the employees, preferably committed to the cause of women, who have had experience in social work or have legal knowledge.
One external member amongst an NGO or an organisation committed to the cause of women.
At least one-half of the members shall be women, at all times.
Who can be the Presiding Officer of an IC?Presiding Officer has to be a woman employed at a senior level at the workplace from amongst the employees.
However, in case a senior level woman employee isn’t available then the Presiding Officer should be nominated from the other branches or administrative units or offices of the employer or the workplace.
How to choose a member from within the employees?
The Internal committee has to have at least two members from amongst the employees. The employer should prefer to have employees who are committed to the cause of women or who have had experience in social work or have legal knowledge.
Who can be an “External Member” of the Committee?
The law makes it very clear that the external person has to be either from an NGO or from an association/organisation committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment or a person of legal expertise.
Further, the External Member appointed is entitled to fees and allowance by the employer for holding the office of the IC.
Can a member of the IC be removed?
The term of the members of IC is three years. However, a member can be removed before the completion of the term if he/she is found guilty in any disciplinary proceedings against him, abused the position he/she holds, convicted of an offence or has pending proceedings against him, discloses/publishes any information related to the aggrieved woman, respondent or the witness in a sexual harassment case at the workplace.