Sexual harassment is a pervasive problem in workplaces across the world, and India is no exception. It can lead to physical, emotional, and psychological harm to the victim and can negatively impact the overall work environment. In response to this, the Indian government has enacted the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, which requires every organization with 10 or more employees to establish an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to deal with complaints of sexual harassment. In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of establishing an ICC as a mechanism to curb sexual harassment incidents at the workplace.
What is an Internal Complaints Committee?
An ICC is a committee established within an organization to receive complaints of sexual harassment and conduct an inquiry into them. The committee is responsible for creating a safe and secure environment for employees to file complaints without fear of retaliation, intimidation or harassment.
The committee consists of a Presiding Officer who should be a woman employed at a senior level in the organization, and at least one member from an NGO or any other organization committed to women’s rights. The other members should be employees of the organization who are familiar with the work environment and the nature of work.
Why is an Internal Complaints Committee necessary?
Establishing an ICC is necessary for the following reasons:
- To provide a safe and secure environment for employees
An ICC creates a safe and secure environment for employees to file complaints of sexual harassment without fear of retaliation or intimidation. The committee ensures that the complaint is dealt with in a sensitive and confidential manner.
- To ensure compliance with the law
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, mandates the establishment of an ICC in every organization with 10 or more employees. Failure to comply with this provision can result in legal consequences for the organization.
- To prevent incidents of sexual harassment
Establishing an ICC can help prevent incidents of sexual harassment at the workplace. By creating a system for employees to report incidents of sexual harassment, the committee can take preventive measures to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future.
How does an Internal Complaints Committee work?
An ICC works in the following manner:
- Receipt of complaint
The committee receives a complaint of sexual harassment from an employee. The complaint can be in writing or oral.
The committee conducts an inquiry into the complaint. The inquiry should be conducted in a timely and confidential manner.
The committee makes findings on the complaint. It can either dismiss the complaint if it is found to be false, or if it is found to be true, it can recommend disciplinary action against the harasser.
The organization takes disciplinary action against the harasser as recommended by the ICC.
Establishing an ICC is a crucial mechanism to curb sexual harassment incidents at the workplace. It provides a safe and secure environment for employees to file complaints and ensures compliance with the law. An ICC can also help prevent incidents of sexual harassment by creating a system for reporting such incidents. By establishing an ICC, organizations can create a work environment that is free from sexual harassment, promotes gender equality, and respects the dignity of every employee.