The Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 mandates every organization with ten or more employees to constitute an Internal Committee or IC. The IC is responsible to implement the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Policy at workplace and redress sexual harassment complaints. As per Section 4 of the Act, an IC should consist of:
- A Presiding Officer, who is a senior female employee
- A minimum of two members who are employees of the organization and
- An External Member, who is from an NGO or an association committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issue of sexual harassment.
The Role of the External Member
External Member plays a critical role in the discharge of the powers and the duties of the IC. An effective and good External Member should be able to:
- Help the organization to be POSH Compliant
- Help in creating awareness of the Act among the employees
- Answer questions from the employees and IC members about the implementation of the Act at workplace
- Supervise the inquiry proceedings of sexual harassment complaints to ensure that they maintain objectivity and follow principles of natural justice
- Prepare the minutes of the IC meetings and the inquiry proceedings and
- Assist the IC members to prepare the Annual Report.
Challenges in Finding the Right External Member
Since the role of External Member is a critical one, organizations should set high standards when hiring them. Some qualifications organizations generally look for in an External Member are:
(1) Work with NGO;
(2) Good grasp of the POSH Act;
(3) Ability to stay neutral and bias-free during the inquiry proceedings;
(4) Good understanding of the industry and the workplace culture;
(5) No other relationship with the organization.
While it is very reasonable to set such high standards, it is difficult to find someone who checks every box. Despite due diligence, many employers face major challenges in finding a suitable EM. Some of the challenges are:
Even if organizations finally succeed in finding the right External Member, the remuneration can be a big challenge. Lot of times, organizations are forced to choose between cost and quality, when selecting an External Member.
Another challenge is the unavailability of the appointed External Committee Member when needed. This usually occurs when an individual works as External Member for many organizations at the same time. If one or two organizations have ongoing inquiries, then the EM’s schedule gets too busy for them to attend other organizations’ IC meetings and inquiry proceedings. Employers generally face difficulty finding someone who extends their service only to a few organizations.
If the Internal Committee is in a Tier2 or Tier3 city, it becomes all the more important for the External Member to be somewhere close by. It would be ideal to have someone who can speak the local language which will help them actively participate in inquiries that are done in the local language. Finding such a person is a big challenge for organizations.
Finding External Members from your City / Town
There might be a very good External Member who meets all the criteria from the very same city / town, but the IC may not be aware of them as there is no portal that lists the information about External Members from that city / town.
While the above-mentioned are the most common challenges organizations face, we know that they are not the only ones. Because of these reasons, unfortunately, many organizations hesitate to replace the External Members even after their tenure ends.
Here is the Good News!
Thanks to eLearnPOSH, finding an External Member for your organization has become a lot easier. Our External Committee Member Directory has a list of External Committee Members that you can choose from. You can filter your search based on various criteria like Years of Experience, Known Languages, Remuneration, Educational Qualification etc. You can also message him/her directly from the portal. Shortlisting and choosing the right candidate is a cakewalk now.
The icing on the cake, this functionality is absolutely free of cost. Start your search now and find the right External Member for your organization!
If you are an External Member looking to create a profile on our portal, you can register yourself free of cost by clicking here.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.