With the overnight overhaul of the physical workplace for a virtual workspace, many workplace practices have had to be re-imagined and adjusted. One such adjustment has been with respect to compliance of the POSH provisions in consonance with the virtual workplace. There is a need to pay attention to duties of employer expected under the POSH Act to ensure seamless conformity to the law whilst transitioning into the new virtual reality. Section 19(b) and Rule 13(a) of the POSH Act, 2013 and POSH Rules, 2013 respectively focus on the obligation of the employer to widely disseminate the policy and display at any conspicuous place in the workplace, the penal consequences of sexual harassments, and the order constituting the Internal Committee. Section 19(b) and rule 13(a) state that
19. Duties of employer.
Every employer shall-
… b. display at any conspicuous place in the workplace, the penal consequences of sexual harassments; and the order constituting, the Internal Committee under subsection (I) of section 4;
13. Manner to organise workshops, etc.— Subject to the provisions of section 19, every employer shall-
(a) formulate and widely disseminate an internal policy or charter or resolution or declaration for prohibition, prevention and redressal of sexual harassment at the workplace intended to promote gender sensitive safe spaces and remove underlying factors that contribute towards a hostile work environment against women;
A policy is only as beneficial as its visibility, thus, it is imperative that dissemination of the policy is efficiently carried out. With the replacement of common workspaces for shared screens, this necessitates an alternate solution to ensure that the employees and outsiders dealing with the organization are aware of the remedies available to them. The possible solutions to this conundrum may include the following:
- Displaying the POSH policy on the company website
- Dissemination in the form of virtual posters
- Circulating the policy within the organization over work groups, intranet and emails
- Policy details available in regional or vernacular languages, where necessary
- Periodic virtual employees awareness programmes and refresher courses in gender sensitivity and safety guidelines of the company
It is crucial that the rights of the employees, and outsiders interacting with the employees, are protected and just as importantly, have easy access to the rights provided by each workplace. POSHequili aids employers in proper dissemination of the policy and all related compliances required by law to ensure transparency within the organization.
– Shreya Kanaujiya, Legal Associate & Lawyer