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  • Reetika Gupta

From Policy to Progress: How Annual Reporting Drives Effective POSH Implementation

As the year 2023 approaches its end, organizations face a flurry of compliance submissions and filings spanning December and January. Among the crucial obligations during this period is the submission of the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) annual report for the preceding calendar year mandated under the Sexual Harassment (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013, commonly known as the POSH Act. Due by January 31, this report holds significance as it must be filed by the organisation’s ICC committee with their respective State-appointed district welfare officer.


Compliance with the POSH Act is not optional but a legal requirement. Recently, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, in the matter of Initiatives for Inclusion Foundation and Anr. vs. Union of India and Others [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 1224 of 2017], vehemently expressed its displeasure regarding poor enforcement of the POSH Act has prompted stringent directions to various entities for ensuring effective implementation.


In this article, we will delve into the common misconceptions that hinder compliance with specific responsibilities under the POSH Act, covering various aspects of sexual harassment prevention and redressal. But before we explore these misconceptions, let's outline the key compliances under the POSH Act.


List of Compliances under POSH Act:


1. Annual report to the employer and district officer:

The Internal Committee, constituted under the POSH Act, prepares this report outlining the organization's actions to prevent and address sexual harassment. It is then submitted to both the employer and the District Officer, detailing overall company compliance with the POSH Law.


2. Report to Ministry of Corporate Affairs:

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs introduced an amendment in 2018, making it mandatory for companies to confirm their compliance with the Internal Committee provisions in the Director’s Report. This report is then filed with the Registrar of the company along with the annual returns.


3. Drafting a ‘Prevention of Sexual Harassment’ policy:

Organizations are required to formulate a POSH policy, articulating the commitment to preventing sexual harassment and outlining processes for reporting complaints, investigation, and resolution.


4. Forming an internal committee:

Organizations must establish an internal committee responsible for receiving and addressing sexual harassment complaints. This committee comprises designated members, including a presiding officer, trained in handling such cases.


5. Arrange awareness sessions for employees and the internal committee: 

Organizations need to conduct awareness programs to educate employees about their rights and responsibilities in preventing sexual harassment. These programs should guide employees on how to report incidents and the available avenues for seeking redressal.


6. Display POSH Posters:

The POSH Act mandates employers to take every measure to improve awareness about sexual harassment in the workplace. This includes displaying posters about Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) in conspicuous places of the organization.


Common Reasons for Non-Compliance: Unveiling Misconceptions


Reason 1: We have only male employees and no women on our payroll

  • Misconception: Organizations with predominantly male workforces believe they are exempt from POSH compliance.

  • Clarification: The POSH Act applies to all organizations with 10 or more people, regardless of gender makeup. It extends protection to every woman, whether she is working at or visiting the workplace. 

Reason 2: We already have a grievance redressal system in place

  • Misconception: Some organizations consider a general grievance redressal system sufficient.

  • Clarification: The POSH Internal Committee is exclusive to sexual harassment complaints and is mandatory for organizations with 10 or more employees.

Reason 3: We always ‘work from home'

  • Misconception: The rise of remote work has led some to question the applicability of POSH compliance.

  • Clarification: The POSH Act covers various locations, including remote workspaces. Policies should extend to all work environments. You can look at a detailed information on 'Implementing an effective POSH policy in remote work environments here

Reason 4: We are an educational institute, an NGO, a gym, etc.

  • Misconception: Some believe certain sectors or setups are exempt from POSH compliance.

  • Clarification: The POSH Act covers diverse workplaces, including educational institutes, NGOs, gyms, etc.

Reason 5: We are a startup with fewer than three people.

  • Misconception: Startups with fewer than ten employees may think they are exempt.

  • Clarification: Even startups with fewer than ten employees are not exempt from obligations under the POSH Act. For such organizations, a Local Complaints Committee administered by the District Welfare Office serves as the redressal mechanism.

Penalties for Non-Compliance with the POSH Act 


Non-compliance with the provisions of the POSH Act is strongly discouraged through penalties described in the Act. If an employer fails to comply with any provisions of the POSH Act, they may be fined up to 50,000 rupees. For repeated violations, the penalty may increase, and the organization could even lose its license, permit, or registration to conduct business.


Remember that the court may order the employer to pay compensation to the aggrieved in addition to the mentioned penalty. In the case of Ms.G vs Isg Novasoft Technologies Ltd, 2014, the High Court of Madras ordered an employer to pay an amount of Rupees 1.68 crore as compensation to a woman, considering the opportunities that she lost due to the non-constitution of the Internal Committee.


Conclusion: A Safer Workplace through Vigilance is a must


Filing the POSH annual report is more than a bureaucratic requirement; it reflects a commitment to creating harassment-free workplaces. Compliance is a testament to an organization's dedication to employee well-being. As workplaces evolve, vigilance in upholding and strengthening measures contributes to a safer, more inclusive professional environment. The POSH annual report is not just a document; it is a crucial step towards workplaces where everyone feels secure, respected, and heard.


Feel free to reach out to me at reetika@aristolegal.co.in for further discussion or more information on this topic.

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Reetika Gupta

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Email: reetika@aristolegal.co.in

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