top of page
  • Reetika Gupta

Implementing an effective POSH Policy in Remote Work Environments – Challenges and Recommendations


There is a common misconception among many people that harassment only happens in a physical workplace setting. Some also assume that the digital environment is a safer space because there is no physical interaction between employees. As a result, many underplay the importance of implementing a Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) policy in virtual settings. Even when organizations implement such policies, they may fail to review and revise their existing sexual harassment policies to clearly explain the applicability of sexual harassment laws to virtual spaces and the consequences of violating them.


In recent years, there has been a substantial movement towards remote work environments, which has resulted in new types of sexual harassment. Making unnecessary requests for video calls at odd hours under the guise of work; taking screenshots of women during video calls and circulating them; inappropriate comments on co-worker's appearance during video meetings; unsolicited/inappropriate communication through company messaging apps, emails, or social media platforms; and stalking colleagues on social media are all examples of harassment in a virtual work setting.


Implementing a Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) Policy in a remote work environment poses significant challenges for employers, even if they are aware of its applicability. One of the main challenges is the absence of physical presence, which can make it difficult for employees to identify and report incidents of sexual harassment, as they may not have regular in-person interactions with colleagues or supervisors. Furthermore, employers may encounter difficulties conducting in-person training sessions, which can impede the policy's effectiveness.


Below are a few suggestions on how to make an effective POSH Policy in a remote working environment:

  1. Setting up protocols for virtual interactions: Establishing protocols for virtual interactions is crucial in today's work environment. There have been recent instances wherein employees have taken work calls in the bathroom, or while lying in bed wearing clothes that are considered unsuitable for work meetings. Therefore, it is essential for organizations to establish clear boundaries that employees must respect when working in a digital environment.

  2. Onboarding process to include POSH Training: To create a safe and respectful virtual work environment, organizations must include training on the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) in their onboarding process for new staff and interns. This training should educate new hires on the organization's culture, code of conduct, and expectations regarding professional behaviour to prevent incidents of inappropriate behaviour. Also, the training must provide clarity on what actions, gestures and behaviours are inappropriate and offensive, and constitute sexual harassment, because employees may not be aware.

  3. Enable digitalized proceedings to address incidents of sexual harassment: The most commonly missing element in a POSH policy is a robust complaint mechanism. Hence, it is advisable that organizations set up a digital complaint filing system that allows employees to file complaints online. The complaint filing system should also provide clear instructions on how to file a complaint and what information needs to be included. To ensure that digitalized proceedings are effective, organizations must establish a digital investigation and resolution process following the same principles and guidelines as an in-person investigation. This includes ensuring that the investigation is conducted impartially, confidentially, and within a reasonable timeframe.

  4. Monitoring Remote Communications: Remote work environments require employees to communicate through various digital channels, such as email, messaging apps, and video conferencing tools. These channels may not be monitored regularly, making it difficult for employers to detect instances of sexual harassment. Employers need to ensure that they have adequate tools or device mechanisms in place to monitor remote communications and detect instances of sexual harassment for example employee monitoring software with screen recording and web activity tracking features.

  5. Adapting to Different Time Zones: With employees working remotely from different time zones, it can be challenging to provide real-time support to employees who may have experienced sexual harassment. Employers need to have adequate resources in place to provide support to employees across different time zones.

Conclusion:

The virtual workplace isolates employees from support networks of colleagues and confidantes. This increases the risk of sexual harassment. Women are suffering online harassment since there are no defined ethics or no etiquette on online working such as what to wear, and the gestures we make. There is a greater emphasis on mental and emotional health and well-being, and as part of that, sexual harassment is being discussed as a major stressor. Implement a third-party anti-harassment and anti-bullying policy to protect the staff from being harassed by customers, clients, vendors and partners. implementing a POSH policy in a remote work environment requires employers to overcome several challenges. Employers need to recognize these challenges and have appropriate procedures and tools in place to ensure that their employees are protected from sexual harassment. By doing so, employers can create a safe and respectful work environment for all employees, regardless of where they work.

109 views1 comment

Subscribe to our newsletter.
Don’t miss out!

Thanks for subscribing!

Contact Us

Reetika Gupta

4 LH, Lanco Hills

Manikonda

Hyderabad- 500089

Email: reetika@aristolegal.co.in

bottom of page