What is POSH Training?
In 2013, Government of India enacted the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, also called as the POSH Act. The Act holds an organization and the employer responsible for taking measures to prevent incidents of sexual harassment at workplace. The Act also lays down several measures for organizations to be compliant to the Act. One of them is spreading POSH awareness to all the employees in the organization about their roles and responsibilities through training program and similar initiatives. It is advisable to conduct such trainings at least twice in a year.
Why POSH Training?
Firstly, it is legally mandatory to conduct POSH training. The organization can attract heavy penalties like a fine of INR 50000 for first time offence and cancellation of business license for repeated offence if the law is not followed. In addition, just having a law does not help. Many a times, women question whether a particular behavior can be counted as sexual harassment even after they felt uncomfortable or violated. So, it is important for employees to know what is acceptable in the workplace, what constitutes to sexual harassment and what does not.
Moreover, the employees should also be aware about what to do if their colleagues are subjected to sexual harassment. An effective training on POSH can address these issues. Organizing POSH training is a step towards protecting the rights of women employees and ensuring equality at the workplace. Training must be given to all employees regardless of their gender or designation.
What are the POSH Benefits?
If you think the above mentioned are not good enough reasons to organize POSH training, here is a list of more benefits in conducting POSH training for the organization.
- Sexual harassment can hamper productivity of not only the victims, but also other employees. Better the training, lesser the incidents of sexual harassment and higher the productivity.
- POSH training shows that the organization cares about the employees which can increase job satisfaction and employee engagement.
- POSH training improves employee retention and the quality of workplace culture. In general, the training improves the perception of employees about the organization.
- The reputation and goodwill of an organization can be damaged if employees decide to reveal their horrible experiences of sexual harassment via social media. Organization may lose its customers as well. Sensitizing the employees through POSH courses and programs can safeguard the organization’s reputation and ensure customer retention.
- Like mentioned before, non-compliance to the act can attract penalties. There can also be chances that the legal fight can take a long time which will result in a huge financial impact. Conducting regular POSH training and awareness programs will not only help in avoiding such legal tangles but can also act as a proof in the court that the organization had taken necessary steps for prevention of unfortunate sexual harassment incidents.
What should you cover in POSH training?
All employees in the organization – managers, directors, IC members, human resource professionals and employees- must go through the training. However, a one-size-fits-all training will not help. A common training on the law is important. In addition to this, there should role-specific training as well. For example, Internal Committee members (IC is the institution that will investigate and redress sexual harassment complaints within the organization) must go through specific training on the investigation procedure and redressal mechanism. Let us have a close look at what types of you should consider for your organization.
POSH Foundation Course
This course will cater to the entire workforce in the organization. Regardless of the gender or designation, every employee should have a clear understanding of the following:
- The term sexual harassment, what constitutes to sexual harassment and what does not.
- Who are complainant, respondent and what are their rights?
- What do workplace, employee and employer mean in the context of POSH Act?
- IC, its responsibilities and the name and details of IC members of their organization.
- Means of filing a complaint
- The punishments for sexual harassment
- The consequences of filing a false complaint with malicious intent
- The consequences of retaliation
- Responsibilities of a someone who has witnessed harassment
- The responsibilities of an employee in preventing sexual harassment in the organization.
POSH Training for Managers / Team Leaders / Supervisors
A certain section of the employees has a team to manage and is obligated to provide a safe environment to their team members. They can be People Managers, Reporting Managers, Business Heads, Human Resources (Learning and Development) professionals, Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) champions, etc. The POSH training for them must enable them to effectively handle and manage sexual harassment incidents. Any inappropriate step or negligence on the part of the people manager will have severe consequences to the organization, team and the victim.
Ideally, the POSH training for managers should cover:
- The key responsibilities of leaders if there is an incident of sexual harassment
- Steps to objectively document the complaint
- Cooperating with the IC for investigation
- Things to do post inquiry
- Proactive measures that can be taken to prevent unfortunate incidents
POSH Training for IC Members
The POSH Act mandates that any organization with more than ten employees (including temporary contract employees or interns.) should constitute an Internal Committee which will have the power of a civil jury. They will investigate POSH complaints and redress them.
It is important to train the IC members on the following:
- The responsibilities of an IC
- The members of IC and their qualification
- The criteria to disqualify an IC member if the need occurs
- The steps of filing a complaint and the procedures that follow
- The process of conciliation and inquiry
- The procedure of conducting interviews required for the investigation
- The time that can be taken to complete the investigation and submit the report
- The recommendations to be made after the inquiry
- Preparing the inquiry report and the details to be included in the report
Making Training Effective
We have seen that there are several topics to be covered in each type of training. This can make the training long and boring. Here are a few tips to ensure that the learners stay engaged through out.
- Include examples and content relevant to the industry and the audience. Incidents that happen in a manufacturing industry is not similar to what would happen in an IT company.
- Use scenarios to understand the intricate nuances involved in sexual harassment incidents. Instead of telling that the employees should intervene, give an example of how an intervention by a fellow-employee has saved a coworker from sexual harassment. It will be more effective.
- Use impactful visuals (like animated videos) about points that the learner should retain. Humans are visual creatures.
- Give learner chances to take decisions. Give quizzes and activities to the learner that involve examples or scenarios. Ask them what they would do in a relatable situation and let them know why their response was correct or incorrect. This keeps them motivated to continue the course.
Mode of POSH Training Programs
Many organizations contemplate on what mode of training they can use for POSH awareness. Should you go for POSH classroom training / workshop or POSH online / CBT modules? It mostly depends on the organization’s discretion because both eLearning and classroom training have their own pros and cons. However here are a few things you can consider while choosing the right mode of training.
Does your organization have employees working from different geographical locations?
Does your organization have a huge intake of employees every year?
Do you have employees who are not fluent in English?
Do you have the need to conduct training in multiple batches in a year because of the number of employees?
If your answer to most of these questions is yes, it is better for you to choose eLearning or online mode of POSH training. Here is why.
When you have employees who are geographically dispersed, it is easier for them to take the course at a pace and schedule of their convenience. Organization does not have to worry about organizing the training on a date and time when everyone is available.
If you have a huge intake of employees every year, you can train the employees right away without waiting to get an optimal number of people to sit in the training room. When your organization has a huge employee size, the classroom training must be conducted in several batches and thus making you pay the trainer for each batch separately.
On the other hand, POSH online training can prove extremely economical because a course that is bought once can be reused several times. Another advantage of eLearning course is that the learner can choose to take the course in the language they are comfortable with, making it easier to cater to learners from different regional backgrounds.
Some other advantages of having eLearning courses are:
- eLearning platforms have the provision of downloadable certificates which is environment friendly and hassle-free.
- The courses will have end-of-the-session assessment to check the learner’s understanding. They will have to pass the assessment to get a course completion certificate.
- Since these eLearning courses are hosted on a Learning Management System, organizations will have accurate analytics on the course completion and progress status of the employees. This makes it easy to track and stay compliant.
- Sexual harassment is a sensitive topic. Not everyone will be comfortable with a training in public space like classroom. eLearning gives the privacy the employees would require.
To conclude, for something like POSH training, which is not just a skill development initiative, but a legal mandate and necessity, it is better to choose an eLearning mode. While the direct beneficiary of POSH training is women employees, this training can yield positive results for the entire workforce and the organization.