Jun 24 2022 | admin
In 2013, the Government of India took the monumental step to mitigate misconduct in corporate structures through the Prevention of Sexual Harrassment Act. Not only does non-compliance with this act have legal ramifications for any misconduct that may take place against the employees, it also makes workers feel safe since they realise that their problems will be dealt with seriously.
To ensure that the workplace remains a conducive environment which allows everyone to reach their fullest potential, it is necessary that corporate structures invest in POSH Compliance. The menace of harassment in the workplace is a serious problem that needs to be dealt with from the very early stages of a company, which is why it becomes imperative to push for such a policy in place, especially for startups. It creates a culture of safety for the employees and helps weed out problems of sexual misconduct from the grassroot level, ensuring morale remains high and workers don’t feel at risk while in the workspace. Therefore, startups need to realise that it is not only necessary for their organisation to have these measures in place, but also that they make the workplace safer and more inclusive.
Moreover, for raising funds, venture capital funds require startups to be POSH compliant. It is important to have an inclusive and well-drafted policy in place, have a trained ICC and to ensure your team is well aware of the nuances of the POSH Act. Companies such as The Outcast Collective provide end-to-end solutions to POSH compliance needs, especially with a focus on customising the solutions as per the requirements of the organisation.
Further, startups usually have small teams with long working hours that are needed as investment towards the growth of the company. Hence, there must be an environment that is free of harassment, especially because in smaller teams personal and professional relationships seem to be blurred very often. Casual language and personal equations that are usually found in startups require to be dealt with sensitivity to create a healthy work culture.
Investing time and effort into creating a healthy workspace for your employees goes a long way in ensuring that they have company loyalty and value their relationship with what they do, and who they do it for. The best part about having a startup is that the culture of the company can be built from square one and changes are better adapted to by the employees. Not only can a non-compliance to POSH result in fines up to Rs. 50,000 but, they can also lead to a cancellation of the business licence. Moreover, a harassment complaint if left unaddressed, can have severely adverse repercussions for a startup’s reputation even after it has gained some semblance of success.
The reason why a lot of startups also hesitate to invest in POSH compliance is because the practical application of a theoretically present law is more difficult than it sounds. The following, however, are a few steps that startups can take to ensure that their business can easily start its journey towards POSH compliance and ensuring that their company adheres to safety rules, as per the guidelines given by the act.
- Companies and startups can have regular awareness programs that help them in understanding why a POSH policy is important and what comes under the violation of such a policy. Not only does that help educate the people, it also ensures that the ideas are reinforced on a regular basis, which makes them wary of violating them.
- Having a zero tolerance policy becomes extremely important for a startup because it helps maintain equity and also a standard structure and plan of action in place if there is a violation of any rule that comes under the guidelines of the POSH Act.
- It is necessary to have a committee that deals with cases of sexual harassment, which is called an Internal Complaints Committee. The committee must be free of biases and firmly deal with the cases with sensitivity and caution. It is necessary for such a committee to be a safe space that maintains confidentiality and be well trained to handle the complaints in accordance with the POSH policy of the company as well as the government.
- The investigation for any complaint should be done keeping all the legal procedures in mind. The aim of the policy should also be to serve justice in a time bound manner because extending cases generally leads to a loss of faith in the system by the employees.
- The IC should also be made responsible for filing the Annual Compliance Report with the authorities to ensure that POSH compliance of the organisation is absolute and complete. This comes with a policy being in place for POSH compliance which will also have provisions for redressal in an efficient manner.
It thus becomes necessary to understand that startups need to invest in POSH compliance not only for legal reasons, but also because the possibility of sexual harrassment threatens its very foundation. While ideally, in a company with a POSH policy, the cases of harassment are little to none, it must be kept in mind that the policy also aims at countering any cases of violation that may arise head on and ensure that the workspace is one where the workers feel respected, safe and seen.