In today’s dynamic and diverse workplace, creating a safe and inclusive environment for employees is paramount. A surefire method of achieving a safe workplace is to ensure compliance of the requisite laws including Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) (POSH) Act, 2013. One essential figure stands as that compliance and safeguarding officer – the POSH Consultant. In this article, we will explore the multifaceted role of a POSH Consultant.
Understanding the Role of a POSH Consultant
A POSH Consultant is commonly a professional dedicated to ensuring that workplaces are compliant with the POSH Law. They are responsible for developing, implementing, and overseeing policies and procedures that prevent and address such incidents along with being part of the Internal Committee which is responsible for resolving complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace.
Key Responsibilities of a POSH Consultant
Conducting Training Programs:
POSH Consultants play a crucial role in empowering employees, Internal Committees (ICs) and management about what constitutes sexual harassment, the importance of reporting, the procedures for filing and redressal of complaints and setting up internal measures to ensure healthy work environments. They conduct training programs to create awareness amongst employees as well as equip ICs and the management with the requisite tools to foster a safer and compliant workplace.
Handling Complaints and Investigations:
When allegations of sexual harassment arise, a POSH Consultant, as an External Member on the IC, can guide the IC with the strategies, report drafting and legal knowledge to ensure that the IC is following principles of natural justice and practicing a fair and objective approach in resolving complaints.
Policy Development, implementation and other legal compliances:
POSH Consultants work with organizations to develop and implement anti-sexual harassment policies. These policies set the tone for a safe and respectful workplace, outlining the reporting mechanisms, investigation processes, and disciplinary actions. Moreover, POSH Consultants ensure that the organization is compliant with all other requirements under the POSH Act including displaying posters and supporting the organization in submitting annual reports.
Qualifications and Skills Required
To excel in their role, POSH Consultants could typically have a background in law, social work, human resources, or psychology. These fields provide a strong foundation for understanding the legal aspects, employee psycho-social dynamics, and the emotional impact of harassment.
Knowledge of Legal provisions and Caselaws:
Being well-versed in the legal provisions and updates related to sexual harassment is essential. The intersection of POSH law as well as other labour laws, Transgender Protection Act, service rules etc. Consultants must stay up-to-date with changing laws, latest judgements and adapt their strategies accordingly.
Inclusive language and Empathy:
Effective communication skills ensuring that the IC use inclusive language, sensitive interviewing skills and empathy are crucial for POSH Consultants. They need to handle complaints with care and ensure that employees feel heard and supported throughout the process. It is pertinent that the POSH Consultant prioritizes the psycho-social aspects of interacting with parties and handling complaints and is able to empower the IC to look beyond its bias.
Benefits of Hiring a POSH Consultant
Promoting a Safe Work Environment:
The primary benefit of having a POSH Consultant is the creation of a safe work environment. This not only protects employees but also fosters a culture of trust and respect within the organization. When employees feel safe and supported, their morale and productivity increase. A positive workplace leads to happier, more engaged employees, which ultimately benefits the organization.
Reducing Legal Risks:
By ensuring compliance with sexual harassment laws, organizations can significantly reduce legal risks and potential liabilities. This proactive approach can save companies from costly court cases or penal reprimands.
Staying updated with evolving landscape of Sexual Harassment Laws:
The organizations can publicise and assure their employees how sexual harassment is addressed seriously by them by keeping the POSH Consultant involved and ensuring regular trainings and conversations around workplace safety.
POSH Consultants ensure that organizations foster an environment of respect and dignity, reducing legal risks and enhancing employee well-being. In today’s intersectional workplace which includes employees not just from different personal backgrounds but also inter-section professional disciplines, communities, countries etc. ensuring the presence of a neutral, objective and external consultant can help organizations practically achieve the kind of work environment that all employees hope to work at.