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The Coffee Break Guide to Compliance – Vol. 9

Posted by: The Connect@ADP Team on 2 August 2018 in Compliance, HR

This post is part of the Coffee Break Guide to Compliance by Anandan Subramaniam. Please subscribe to the blog updates if you’d like to be notified of these posts. Please comment below with your doubts and queries.

The Coffee Break Guide to Compliance – Vol. 9 {Roles and responsibilities of the Internal Complaints Committee constituted under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013}

The rights of a working woman include having a safe workplace. Section 3(1) of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 states that “No woman shall be subjected to sexual harassment at any workplace.”

While it’s the Employer’s obligation to make an environment which would prevent and prohibit any harassment, it is the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) which has the duty to redress. Let us go over how the ICC is to be constituted and what their responsibilities are.

Constitution of the Committee

  • Every establishment with 10 or more employees is required to constitute ICC.
  • Committee members may either be appointed (selected) or nominated.
  • Members will hold the position for not exceeding three years of such appointment or nomination.
  • ICC should have 50% representation by women.
  • The Presiding Officer (PO) should be a woman working at senior level as Employee; if not available, then the PO should be nominated from other offices or departments or units or workplace of the same Employer.
  • The Committee should have a minimum of two (2) members from amongst the employees who are committed to the cause of women and/or have the legal knowledge and/or experience in social work.
  • An external member from amongst NGO or associations committed to the cause of women or familiar with issues of sexual harassment. Qualities of such external member should be either one of the following:
    • Rightful skill, demonstrated knowledge and capable of dealing with workplace harassment issues and complaints
    • A person having experience of around five (5) years as a social worker working towards women’s empowerment
    • Expert in labour or civil or criminal law
  • External third-party members shall be paid for their services on the Complaints Committees as prescribed.

Dos and Don’ts of the Inquiry Process

  1. Ensure the complaint is addressed to the ICC and not to HR or the Employer.
  2. Once the complaint is received, the ICC has to review the written complaint and respond to it.
  3. ICC must ensure the complaint is allowable under SH Act.
  4. ICC can conclude the complaint as dismissed if they find it false or malicious. Disciplinary action can be recommended on such complainant.
  5. Conciliation can happen only with a request and consent of the aggrieved woman.
  6. A minimum of three (3) members of the ICC, including the Presiding Officer, are to be present while conducting the inquiry.
  7. An appropriate plan must be made to conduct the inquiry with the Complainant, the Respondent and the Witness.
  8. During the inquiry process, the ICC is required to ensure confidentiality.
  9. ICC can recommend interim measures as needed to conduct a fair inquiry.
  10. During the inquiry, a record of the statements with date, time and signature are to be obtained from the declaring persons. Further discussions may happen until concluding findings are arrived at.
  11. Recommendations are to be shared with the Management as a report, for their decision on implementation of the same.

Non-compliance

If the Employer fails to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee even after the Employee strength crosses 10 members, the Employer can be penalised an amount of up to Rs.50,000. If this is repeated, then the punishment can extend to up to twice the penalty or higher, and may also lead to the cancellation of registration of the Establishment.

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TAGS: Anandan Subramaniam HR Internal Complaints Committee Rights of a Woman in the Workplace Safe Workplace Workplace Sexual Harassment

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