APAC

How Recent Changes to India’s POSH Act Can
Help Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

By July 25, 2019 July 30th, 2019 No Comments

According to one recent study, a wide range of different employment situations are commonly known for giving rise to increased instances of sexual harassment in the workplace. These can include not only situations where someone might be working for tips, but also those where the victim in question may be lacking legal immigration status (or only has a temporary work visa), where they work in male-dominated jobs, or are employed in an environment with significant power differentials.

While it’s common to assume this problem exists most prominently in the United States, it’s one that the rest of the world is grappling with, too. India, specifically, is taking steps to reduce these instances; there have been a number of recent changes to India’s POSH Act, for example, that many agree can go a long way towards preventing and mitigating sexual harassment in the workplace. They’re changes that all employers considering operating in the area need to be aware of moving forward.

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POSH Act India: What Employers Need to Know

The POSH Act (also known as the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act) is a piece of legislation in India that was first passed in 2012 and went into effect at the end of 2013. Problems arose almost immediately; it was revealed by the International Labour Organization that very few employers in India were compliant with this statute out of the gate.

Under the Act, sexual harassment is defined as:

  1. Physical contact and advances of a sexual nature
  2. A demand (or even a request) for sexual favors
  3. Someone making sexually charged remarks to another person
  4. Someone showing someone else pornography at work
  5. Any unwelcome physical, verbal, or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature of any kind

The biggest recent change to the POSH Act came in 2019, when the Women Development and Child Welfare Department issued a general notice that any business in Telangana that had ten or more employees was now required to register their IC with the State Shebox portal by no later than July 15, 2019. This is in an effort to allow officials to better track the compliance statuses of businesses around the area.

The government of Maharashtra issued a similar letter, requiring all businesses to fill out a form outlining their compliance status and internal committee and submit it to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate by no later than July 20, 2019. In both situations, a failure to follow the rules could lead to businesses getting fined as much as $50,000 in local currency.

The major takeaway is that this is one trend that shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. Most people agreed that the original version of the POSH Act lacked the “teeth” to achieve any meaningful change, and these types of rules are seen as a way to correct this shortcoming as soon as possible.

Expand into India with a Partner Who Can Help Make Sense of Employment Regulations

All of this is to say that while only two major states in India have made it mandatory for companies to register and to establish their own internal compliance committees, others are likely to follow in the not-too-distant future. This only adds to the liability of companies setting up shop in India, albeit in a positive manner. Businesses should be aware of and fallow all local regulations when expanding into a country—especially when those regulations pertain to the wellbeing of employees.

It’s a reminder of how important it is to partner with an organization like an International Professional Employer Organization (PEO) during your own international expansion. It’s very easy to be non-compliant with new regulations like India’s POSH Act— and a partner with local experience can help take care of all of these issues on your behalf so you can focus the majority of your attention on actually running the most successful business possible.

Whether you’re looking for a clearer understanding of employment regulations in India or simply wanting to learn more about how International PEO has changed the way businesses expand overseas, reach out to Velocity Global today.