As you already know, as per law, every employer who has 10 or more employees / workers / contract workers / interns etc. in a workplace, has to mandatorily constitute an ICC for receiving and redressing complaints of sexual harassment at workplace.
These ICC members cannot hold office for more than 3 years and the employer must necessarily reconstitute the ICC every 3 years. As the law was passed in 2013 (became effective from 9th December, 2013), assuming that several employers would have constituted the ICC sometime in December, 2013 or January, 2014, it may be time for such employers to reconstitute the ICC.
Composition of ICC:
The reconstituted ICC, similar to constitution of the ICC, must satisfy the following criteria:
- Presiding Officer – Senior woman employee
- 2 members – Employees
- 1 independent external member – Expert in such matters
- 50% of the total members – Women
Things to keep in mind:
- Reconstituting the ICC is not an option. It is a mandatory requirement.
- ICC must be reconstituted even if the 10 employees includes workers / interns / contract workers etc. – whether salaried / non-salaried.
- ICC must be reconstituted even if at the end of 3 years organization does not have any women employees working with them.
- ICC has to be reconstituted at all administrative units or offices, if the offices or administrative units of the workplace are located at different places or divisional or sub-divisional level.
Effect of non-compliance:
- Monetary penalty
- Cancellation of license to do business
- Reputational damage of organization
- Payment of compensation – which may run into crores
- Loss of business
- Lack of trust, attrition and low productivity at workplace
Following reconstitution of ICC, it will be important and helpful to disseminate policy with the revisions and plan awareness sessions to introduce new ICC members and changes in contact details.
Filing of the Annual Reports by the End of Calendar Year (Section 21 & 22): Every calendar year, the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of an organization is required to prepare an annual report and submit the same to employer. The annual report must contain the following details:
- Number of complaints of sexualharassment received in the year
- Number of complaints disposed off during the year
- Number of cases pending for more than 90 days
- Number of workshops or awareness programme against sexualharassment carried out
- Nature of action taken by the Company
Upon receiving the annual report from ICC, the management may want to ensure that the annual report contains the following key points, among several other things:
- Includes dates when ICC met to prepare the annual report
- Includes signature of all ICC members
- Must provide rationale / details for the figures provided in the annual report
- Includes details related to conciliation as well
The annual report of ICC has to be submitted to the designated District Officer of the District in which employer does business.
Providing of information by Employer in the Annual Report:
The employer is also required under law to include in their annual report:
- The number of cases filed
- The number of cases disposed off
In case preparation/submission of an annual report is not required, details to be provided to the District Officer.
Training and awareness sessions (Section 19 (3) and Rule 13 (a) & (b)): The law categorically states that employer must: ‘organise workshops and awareness programmes at regular intervals for sensitising the employees with the provisions of the Act’, ‘carry out employees awareness programmes’ and ‘create forum for dialogues’. It also says that employers must conduct ‘orientation programmes and seminars’ and ‘capacity building and skill building programmes’ for Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) members.
Types of sessions:
- Awareness session for Management / Employer
- Training session for ICC
- Awareness session for managers
- Awareness session for employees
How do these sessions help?
- Ensure that employees are aware of their rights, responsibilities & the complaints mechanism
- The definition of the term sexual harassment becomes clear – reduces instances of sexual harassment
- Malicious complaints reduce
- Shows your proactive approach – that you have taken actual steps to prevent and redress instances of sexual harassment
- ICC can deal with complaints in a much better manner thereby avoiding circumstances in which there would be disgruntled employees
- Instil faith of employees in the organization & project your image as an equal opportunity employer
- Positivity and work productivity – retention and better work satisfaction – resulting in business growth
- Create gender sensitive work environment
- Sensitizing and training employees in leadership positions to handle complaints of sexual harassment
- Instil faith on confidentiality and assurance of non-retaliation which is a common barrier
All trainers associated with POSH at Work are experts on the subject of sexual harassment and gender equality. We conduct training and awareness sessions of different kinds to ensure that employers all across the country can fulfil this responsibility. In case you wish to learn more on the kind of sessions we provide, have any queries or wish to conduct a session, please feel free to contact us on 90045 21614.
– Adv. Shivangi Prasad – Corporate Lawyer, External Member & Trainer, Head – Legal & Compliance, Partner POSH at Work