In order to make a sexual harassment complaint the woman need not be an employee. The woman can be a visitor, a vendor, a customer, a bystander, an intern, or even a job seeker and still be able to complain.
The aggrieved woman need not be an employee of the organisation. The respondent has to be an employee of the organisation against whom the complaint has been alleged.
Every organisation has to comply with the law regardless of the number of employees.
Yes. The law is mandatory for all organisations irrespective of its constitution that include Public Limited Companies, Pvt. Ltd. Companies, Limited Liability Partnerships, Partnership Firms, Trusts, Societies, Associations, Proprietorships and government departments and undertakings.
Workplace has been defined in the widest manner and it includes any place visited by the employee arising out of or during the course of employment including transportation provided by the employer.
Employee has been defined in the broadest manner which includes anybody working either directly or through an agent, including a contractor, with or without the knowledge of the principal employer, whether for remuneration or not.
“One cannot forecast what the future holds.” thus, stating that sexual harassment does not occur in our organisation would be sheer ignorance. Sexual harassment at workplace may occur at any point of time.
The mandate of the law is more preventive than punitive. An organisation needs to comply irrespective of it receiving such complaints. Hence all obligations like putting up posters, formation of policy, sensitising employees and skill building of ICC members help to prevent instances of sexual harassment.
There are several other obligations for complying with the law which includes training and putting up posters. Any non-compliance with any provisions of the law may result in criminal prosecution of the management.
Apart from a NGO member, the external member could be from an association committed to the cause of women or any other person familiar with issues relating to sexual harassment.
The Presiding Officer of the ICC must necessarily only be a woman employed at a senior level. Under no circumstances can a male member be the Presiding Officer even if he is the HR Head.
At least one-half(50%) of ICC members must necessarily be women including the Presiding Officer. Though it is legally permissible to constitute an ICC comprising of all women members, it is advisable to have at least one male member to provide comfort to all stakeholders.
The ICC begins the redressal process only on receipt of a written complaint. In case the aggrieved woman is unable to make the complaint in writing, the ICC members are obliged to help her make the same in writing.
The law provides inbuilt mechanism and deterrents against the same like complaints to be made within 3 months from the date of incident, ICC to follow principles of natural justice and arrive at a collective reasoned decision and punishment in case of false and malicious complaints amongst others.
It is an unfounded misconception. It is imperative that an employee understands the various actions which may constitute sexual harassment and introspect and change any offending behaviour. Further all stakeholders need to be aware that the same action may be perceived differently by various women on account of various economic and social backgrounds and the simplest way to stop any offending behaviour would be by letting the other person know that his actions are unwelcome. Further the stakeholders need to be aware about the respective consequences of genuine and false complaints.
There is no such presumption under the law. Though direct evidence may be unlikely available, the initial burden is on the woman to prove her allegations through circumstantial evidence. However she needs to prove the propendence of probability as against the proof beyond reasonable doubt under criminal law.
Any violation of the provisions of the Act and Rules make the management liable for fine upto INR 50,000. Repeated violations may result in double the penalty and cancellation of business license. This is apart from the liability of the organisation under general law of torts as well as risk of management being charged for abetment of offence of sexual harassment. Further in this age of social media, the reputational risk cannot be ignored.
An aggrieved woman needs to file a written complaint personally. Only in exceptional circumstances like physical or mental incapacity or death or otherwise, specified person may make a complaint on her behalf.
In case organisations have less than 10 employees, complaint against their employees are heard and decided by the Local Complaints Committee constituted by the District Officer.