The pandemic and its restrictions have created a shift in office activities that often goes under the term “New Normal” functionality. Most of us are currently in this New Normal – working from home or remotely – and need to rethink many aspects of our work, including workplace compliances.
In the current reality, organisations have to alter some of their old rules so that they remain significant, including their POSH compliance Policy. Here is a rundown of the POSH Policy modifications that can be followed under the New Normal system.
Amendment of the “Workplace” Definition in the POSH Policy
Workplace dynamics have switched from the physical to the virtual space. Similarly, workplace well-being cannot only be confined to the physical space but needs to be extended to the virtual world and remote working regime too. Parameters such as Digital space and Telecom tools need to be included in the definition of a workplace to extend protection to those working from home or other remote locations like a hotel, cafe corner, restaurant, etc. Usage of specific tools/platforms can be mentioned in the policy as authorised channels for all work-related communication and collaboration.
Defining the ambit of this new virtual workplace is crucial for Internal Committee members to understand which complaints do and do not lie within the scope of their intervention. For instance, take a complaint based on a Whatsapp chat between two colleagues. Will this come within the definition of Virtual Workplace? Well, that would depend on the channels and platforms authorised by the employer in the POSH Policy.
Set-Up an Online Complaint Management System
In the usual set-up, a complainant had the flexibility of directly opening up with the IC member/s to raise a complaint. With employees working remotely, that comfort and flexibility is no longer available. So it is necessary for employers to define a platform/forum where employees can reach out to Internal Committee members without any fear of breach of confidentiality.
In this regard, an end-to-end complaint management platform can be an instrumental tool to empower employees and safeguard confidentiality.
Provide E- learning POSH Trainings or Webinars
This New Normal, where a majority of the employees work remotely, requires organisations to switch from a classroom training or workshop model to an E-learning model. The key points that e-training can focus on are:
- Clear insight on what constitutes Online Sexual Harassment under the new normal
- Ethics to be followed while holding meetings both on audio mode as well as AV mode
- The highlights of dress etiquette when on video conference
- The background demonstrations required while holding the video conference
- Certain DOs & DONTs, like following stipulated work hours, avoiding late-night meetings, contacting on unauthorised communication channels, etc.
Disseminate Information amongst Employees on E-Complaints
While adopting a virtual working style, an organisation’s POSH policy needs to include direction of how e-complaints related to POSH will be filed. The process of filing complaints through e-mail or dedicated e-portal for POSH proceedings needs to be highlighted in the PoSH Policy. A revision is required in the following terms:
- Circulating awareness messages including details of POSH Internal Committee members, their email ids, and other contact details.
- Awareness amongst employees on the process of filing e-complaints in case of sexual harassment issues.
- Specify changes in the POSH Policy and explain to employees the inquiry procedure they have to follow in this remote setting. Guidance charts covering e-complaints, IC members, and other such details can also be processed in the same way.
Training Employees How to Collect Digital Evidence
A Complainant needs to support their complaint with substantial evidence. In this regard, employers should educate and equip employees on how they can create a record of digital evidence for their complaint. Employees need step-by-step guidance on how they can access the password encrypted files for Finding Reports and Inquiry Reports.
Necessary Assistance to Internal Committee
As the Internal Committee members continue to tackle harassment cases in the virtual space, it is essential for the employer to provide the committee with all necessary tools and platforms to receive e-complaints, conduct online meetings and inquiries, record statements of the parties and the witnesses, generate encrypted files to ensure confidentiality, etc.
Authored by Neha Jain
Ms. Neha is a Legal Consultant in Cyber and Workplace related Laws. As a PoSH Consultant, she helps companies with implementing PoSH Policy and also serves as an External Member in various organizations. She is also an active blogger and legal content writer.
Ms. Neha is a part of Lawcubator’s PAN India Network of Experts on Workplace Laws and Ethics. To conduct a training at your workplace, write to up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lawcubator offers an Online Complaint Management Platform, with innovative dashboards for the Internal Committee to manage complaints, conduct inquiries, and meet deadlines. To take a demo of our platform, sign up HERE.