Policy on Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) of women at workplace

Sexual harassment at the workplace results in violation of the fundamental rights of a woman

  • to equality under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India
  • to life and to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution
  • to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business which includes a right to a safe environment free from sexual harassment.

The SKILLEDGE 4.0 EDUTECH PRIVATE LIMITED is an equal employment opportunity company and is committed to creating a healthy working environment that enables employees to work without fear of prejudice, gender bias and in a harassment free workplace to all employees without regard to race, caste, religion, colour, ancestry, marital status, gender, age, nationality, ethnic origin or disability. The Company also believes that all employees of the Company have the right to be treated with dignity. Sexual harassment at the work place or other than work place if involving an employee or employees is a grave offence and is therefore punishable.

The ‘Policy on Sexual Harassment of Women at workplace’ Guidelines SKILLEDGE 4.0 intends to provide protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment and matters related to it.

This version of the policy is effective from :01/10/2021

1. Introduction:

At SKILLEDGE 4.0, all employees are expected to uphold the highest standards of ethical conduct at the workplace and in all their interactions with business stakeholders. This means that employees have a responsibility to

  • Treat each other with dignity and respect
  • Follow the letter and spirit of law
  • Refrain from any unwelcome behaviour that has sexual connotation (of sexual nature)
  • Refrain from creating hostile atmosphere at workplace via sexual harassment
  • Report sexual harassment experienced and/or witnessed to appropriate authorities and abide by the complaint handling procedure of the company.

This policy has been framed in accordance with the provisions of “The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013” and rules framed thereunder (hereinafter “the Act”). Accordingly, while the policy covers all the key aspects of the Act, for any further clarification reference shall always be made to the Act and the provisions of the Act shall prevail. If any aspect relating to sexual harassment not explicitly covered in this policy is provided for by the law, then the law will be applicable. In case of any conflict between the policy and the law, the law will prevail.

This policy provides protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment and matters related to it.

2. Scope:

This Policy extends to all employees of the Company and is deemed to be incorporated in the service conditions of all employees of the Company in India. Local country laws will take precedence over this policy, in other geographies, if applicable.

3. Definitions:

1. Sexual Harassment may occur not only where a person uses sexual behaviour to control, influence or affect the career, salary or job of another person, but also between co-workers. It may also occur between the Company’s employee and someone that employee deals with in the course of his/her work who is not employed by the Company.

“Sexual Harassment” includes any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour (whether directly or by implication):

a) Any unwelcome sexually determined behaviour, or pattern of conduct, that would cause discomfort and/or humiliate a person at whom the behaviour or conduct was directed namely:

  • Physical contact and advances;
  • Demand or request for sexual favors;
  • Sexually colored remarks or remarks of a sexual nature about a person’s clothing or body;
  • Showing pornography, making or posting sexual pranks, sexual teasing, sexual jokes, sexually demeaning or offensive pictures, cartoons or other materials through email, SMS, MMS etc.;
  • Repeatedly asking to socialize during off-duty hours or continued expressions of sexual interest against a person’s wishes;
  • Giving gifts or leaving objects that are sexually suggestive;
  • Eve teasing, innuendos and taunts, physical confinement against one’s will or any such act likely to intrude upon one’s privacy;
  • Persistent watching, following, contacting of a person; and
  • Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature

b) The following circumstances if it occurs or is present in relation to any sexually determined act or behaviour amount to sexual harassment:

  • • Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in employment;
  • Implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in employment;
  • Implied or explicit threat about the present or future employment status;
  • Interference with the person’s work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment; or
  • Humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety.

The reasonable person standard is used to determine whether or not the conduct was offensive and what a reasonable person would have done. Further, it is important to note that whether harassment has occurred or not, does not depend on the intention of the people but on the experience of the aggrieved woman.

2. Aggrieved woman: In relation to a workplace, a woman, of any age, whether employed or not, who alleges to have been subjected to any act of sexual harassment by the respondent and includes contractual, temporary, visitors.

3. Respondent: A person against whom a complaint of sexual harassment has been made by the aggrieved woman.

4. Employee: A person employed at the workplace, for any work on regular, temporary, ad-hoc or daily wage basis, either directly or through an agent, including a contractor, with or without the knowledge of the principal employer, whether for remuneration or not, or working on a voluntary basis or otherwise, whether the terms of employment are express or implied and includes a co-worker, a contract worker, probationer, trainee, apprentice or by any other such name.

5. Workplace: In addition to the place of work [Head office / Branch offices, Factories] it shall also include any place where the aggrieved woman or the respondent visits/presents in connection with his/her work.

6. Employer: A person responsible for management, supervision and control of the workplace.

7. Special Educator: A Special Educator means a person trained in communication with people with special needs in a way that addresses their individual differences and needs.

4. Roles & Responsibilities:

1. Responsibilities of Individual: It is the responsibility of all to respect the rights of others and to never encourage harassment.

It can be done by:

  • Refusing to participate in any activity which constitutes harassment
  • Supporting the person to reject unwelcome behaviour
  • Acting as a witness if the person being harassed decides to lodge a complaint

All are encouraged to advise others of behaviour that is unwelcome. Often, some behaviours are not intentional. While this does not make it acceptable, it does give the person behaving inappropriately, the opportunity to modify or stop their offensive behaviour.

2. Responsibilities of Managers: All managers at SKILLEDGE 4.0 must ensure that nobody is subject to harassment and there is equal treatment. They must also ensure that all employees understand that harassment will not be tolerated; that complaints will be taken seriously; and that the complainant, respondent/s, or witnesses are not victimized in any way.

5. Internal Complaints Committee (Henceforth known as ‘Committee’):

To prevent instances of sexual harassment and to receive and effectively deal with complaints pertaining to the same, an “Internal Complaints Committee” is presently constituted at each company’s registered office at Pune. The detail of the committee is notified to all covered persons.

The committee at the registered office of the Company comprises of:

  • Presiding Officer: A woman employed at a senior level in the organization or workplace
  • At least 2 members from amongst employees, committed to the cause of women and/ or having legal knowledge
  • One external member, familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment
  • At least one half of the total members are women

The committee is responsible for:

  • Receiving complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace
  • Initiating and conducting inquiry as per the established procedure
  • Submitting findings and recommendations of inquiries
  • Coordinating with the employer in implementing appropriate action
  • Maintaining strict confidentiality throughout the process as per established guidelines
  • Submitting annual reports in the prescribed format

Current nominated members of the committees are given in Annexure A.

6. Complaint Redressal Mechanism:

In compliance with the Act, any complaint under this policy shall be followed by a formal redressal mechanism as described in this Policy

Lodging a Complaint

An aggrieved woman may make, in writing, a complaint of sexual harassment at workplace to the Internal Committee within a period of 3 months from the date of incident/ last incident. The Internal Committee can extend the timeline by another 3 months for reasons recorded in writing, if satisfied that these reasons prevented the lodging of the complaint within the period.

Provided that where such a complaint cannot be made in writing, the Presiding Officer or any Member of the Internal Complaint Committee shall render all reasonable assistance to the women for making the complaint in writing.

1. If the Aggrieved Woman is unable to make a complaint on account of her physical or mental incapacity, a complaint may be filed by:

  • her relative or friend; or
  • her co-worker; or
  • an officer of the National Commission for Women or State Women’s Commission; or
  • any person who has knowledge of the incident, with the written consent of the Aggrieved Woman or
  • a special educator

2. If the Aggrieved Woman for any other reason is unable to make a complaint, a complaint may be filed by any person who has knowledge of the incident, with her written consent.

3. If the Aggrieved Woman is deceased, a complaint may be filed by any person who has knowledge of the incident, with the written consent of her legal heir.

The complaint shall be submitted by the complainant to the IC in writing or shall be submitted electronically via. Email id:
[email protected]

Provided that where such a complaint cannot be made in writing, the Presiding Officer or any member of the Internal Control Committee shall render all reasonable assistance to the women for making complaint in writing

Receiving a Complaint (guidelines)

Dealing with incidents of harassment is not like any other type of dispute. Complainants may be embarrassed and distressed and it requires tact and discretion while receiving the complaint.

The following points are kept in mind by the receiver of the complaint:

  • Complaint are listened to and the complainant informed that the Company takes the concerns seriously. Complainant is informed that these concerns will be reported to the appropriate committee and follow up will be done speedily.
  • Situation are not be pre-judged. Written notes are taken while listening to the person. Complainant is allowed to bring another person to the meeting if they wish. When taking accurate notes, complainant’s own words, where possible, is used. Clear description of the incident in simple and direct terms is prepared and details are confirmed with the complainant.
  • All notes are kept strictly confidential. Complainant’s agreement is taken to allow proceeding with the matter, which involves a formal investigation.
  • The complainant is advised that although the process is confidential, the respondent needs to be informed and any witnesses and persons directly involved in the complaint process will also learn of the complainant’s identity.

Care is taken to prevent any disadvantage to or victimization of either the complainant or the respondent.

Resolution procedure through conciliation

Once the complaint is received, before initiating the inquiry the committee may take steps to conciliate the complaint between the complainant and the respondent. This is only if requested by the aggrieved woman.

It is made clear to all parties that conciliation in itself doesn’t necessarily mean acceptance of complaint by the respondent. It is a practical mechanism through which issues are resolved or misunderstandings are cleared.

In case a settlement is arrived at, the committee records & reports the same to the employer for taking appropriate action. Resolution through conciliation happens within 2 weeks of receipt of complaint.

The committee provides copies of the settlement to complainant & respondent. Once the action is implemented, no further inquiry is conducted by the committee.

Resolution procedure through formal inquiry:

Conducting Inquiry:

The committee initiates inquiry in the following cases:

  • No conciliation is requested by aggrieved woman
  • Conciliation has not resulted in any settlement
  • Complainant informs the committee that any term or condition of the settlement arrived through conciliation, has not been complied with by respondent

The Committee proceeds to make an inquiry into the complaint within a period of 1 week of its receipt of the original complaint/closure of conciliation/repeat complaint.

Manner of inquiry into complaint:

  • Complainant should submit the complaint along with supporting documents and the names of the witnesses
  • Upon receipt of the complaint, the committee sends 1 copy of the complaint to respondent within 7 working days
  • Respondent replies with all supporting documents within 10 working days of receiving the copy of the complaint
  • No legal practitioner can represent any party at any stage of the inquiry procedure
  • The Complaints Committee makes inquiry into the complaint in accordance with the principles of natural justice
  • In conducting the inquiry, a minimum of three committee members including the Presiding Officer is present

Interim relief:

During pendency of the inquiry, on a written request made by the complainant, the committee may recommend to the employer to:

  • Transfer the complainant or the respondent to any other workplace
  • Grant leave to the aggrieved woman of maximum 3 months, in addition to the leave she would be otherwise entitled
  • Prevent the respondent from assessing complainant’s work performance
  • Grant such other relief as may be appropriate.

Once the recommendations of interim relief are implemented, the same is informed to the committee.

Action to be taken after inquiry:

Post the inquiry, the committee submits its report containing the findings and recommendations of the employer, within 10 days of completion of the inquiry.

Complaint unsubstantiated:

Where the committee arrives at the conclusion that the allegation against the respondent has not been proved, it recommends to the employer that no action is required to be taken in this matter. Further, the committee ensures that both parties understand that the matter has been fully investigated, that the matter is now concluded, and neither will be disadvantaged within the Company.

Complaint substantiated:

Where the committee arrives at the conclusion that the allegation against the respondent has been proved, it recommends to the employer to take necessary action for sexual harassment as misconduct, in accordance with the applicable service rules and policies, and this may include:

Penalty matrixDisciplinary action
  • Warning
  • Reprimand
  • Written apology to the Complainant
  • Withholding of promotions /increments,
  • Rescinding of bonus,
  • Carrying out community service,
  • Transfer from present location
  • Compensation or deduction from the salary / wages of the respondent or issue direction for payment; such sum as it may consider appropriate to be paid to the aggrieved person or to their legal heirs, as it may determine, Suspension,
  • Termination/dismissal from employment,
  • Legal action under the Criminal Code

The Company is required to act upon the recommendations within 60 days and confirm to the committee. Post implementation of the actions, follow up with the complainant should also occur to ascertain whether the behaviour has in fact stopped, the solution is working satisfactorily and if no victimization of either party is occurring.

Termination of Inquiry:

Committee at SKILLEDGE 4.0 may terminate the inquiry or give ex-parte decision, if complainant or respondent respectively is absent for 3 consecutive hearings, without reason.15 day written notice to be given to the party, before termination or ex-parte order.

Inquiry procedure:

All proceedings of the inquiry are documented. The Committee interviews the respondent separately and impartially. Committee states exactly what the allegation is and who has made the allegation. The respondent is given full opportunity to respond and provide any evidence etc. Detailed notes of the meetings are prepared which may be shared with the respondent and complainant upon request. Any witnesses produced by the respondent are also interviewed & statements are taken.

If the complainant or respondent desires to cross examine any witnesses, the Committee facilitates the same and records the statements.

In case complainant or respondent seeks to ask questions to the other party, they may give them to the Committee which asks them and records the statement of the other party.

Any such inquiry is completed, including the submission of the Inquiry Report, within 90 days from the date on which the inquiry is commenced. The inquiry procedure ensures absolute fairness to all parties.

7. Penal Consequences of Sexual Harassment:

In case the Committee finds the degree of offence coverable under the Indian Penal Code, then this fact shall be mentioned in its report and appropriate action shall be initiated by the employer, for making a Police Complaint. Under the Indian Penal Code, (IPC), the newly introduced Section (S. 354A) which deals with Sexual Harassment has made this a ‘cognizable offense’ i.e. a person charged with Sexual Harassment may be arrested without a warrant.

8. Malicious Allegations:

Where the committee arrives at the conclusion that the allegation against the respondent is malicious or the aggrieved woman or any other person making the complaint has made the complaint knowing it to be false or the aggrieved woman or any other person making the complaint has produced any forged or misleading document, it may recommend to the employer to take action against the woman or the person making the complaint.

The action recommended should be similar to the ones proposed for the respondent in case of substantiated complaints.

While deciding malicious intent, the committee should consider that mere inability to substantiate a complaint need not mean malicious intent. Malicious intent must be clearly established through a separate inquiry.

9. Confidentiality:

The identity of the complainant, respondent, witnesses, statements and other evidence obtained in the course of inquiry process, recommendations of the committees, action taken by the employer is considered as confidential materials, and not published or made known to public or media.

Any person contravening the confidentiality clauses is subject to disciplinary action as prescribed in the act.

10. Appeal:

Any party not satisfied or further aggrieved by the implementation or non-implementation of recommendations made, may appeal to the appellate authority in accordance with the Act and rules, within 90 days of the recommendations being communicated.

11. Awareness:

  1. All the Employees, Agents, Customers, Vendors, Partners and Visitors shall have access to this Policy at any given point of time and clarification related to this Policy shall be addressed by the HR team.
  2. A brief shall be given to all existing employees regarding the features of this Policy immediately on formulation of the Policy and to new employees during their initial Induction.
  3. The Company shall comply with all other details as set out under Section 19 of the Act to ensure that all employees are provided with the safe working environment at the workplace.
  4. Company shall display the notice showing the name of the Internal Complaints Committee members on the website:

12. Conclusion :

Complaints relating to Sexual Harassment shall be handled and investigations will be conducted under the principles of natural justice, basis of fundamental fairness, in an impartial and confidential manner so as to protect the identity of all viz., the person bringing the charge, potential witnesses, and the person accused of improper behavior. Also, all efforts shall be taken to ensure objectivity and thoroughness throughout the process of investigation.

The identity and address of the aggrieved person, respondent and witnesses must not be published or disclosed to the public or media.

The decision of Company shall be final and binding on all. However, the same is without prejudice to any recourse that Company or the individual concerned may have against the respondent and it shall not limit or restrict the rights of the Complainant and/or Company to pursue, nor shall they be precluded from pursuing, such further and other legal actions as may be available.

Annexure A

Internal Complaints Committee at SKILLEDGE 4.0 Edutech Private Limited

1. Pooja SharmaPresiding Officer
2. PriyankaMembers
3. Shailendra MaratheMembers
4. Nayana PrabhuEx- official Member