POSH Law and COVID-19Published: Mar 24th, 2020 06:29 pm
Applicability of POSH Law in COVID-19 Scenario
All around it’s COVID-19..... All Shut-down....!.
But show must go on.. therefore, ‘Work from Home’ (WFH) is a plausible solution..
So few questions – What’s the probabilities of ‘Sexual Harassment’ in a WFH circumstances?
Is POSH Laws applicable in the given circumstances? Or is it only in books, now?
When I opt WFH, am I at workplace?
Can I be sexually harassed while sitting at home and can I invoke the provisions of POSH law, if I’m harassed on-line ?
The answer to all above questions is – YES
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal ) Act, 2013 (POSH Law) is very much alive and is applicable even if we are working from home; It applies in virtual world as well.
The ‘Sexual harassment’ as defined under POSH Law is:
“Any unwelcome acts or behavior (whether directly or by implication), namely: 1. Physical contact or advances;
5. Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature”
A workplace is defined as “any place visited by the employee arising out of or during the course of employment, including transportation provided by the employer for undertaking such a journey”
The said definition of workplace is therefore, extendable to and goes beyond the four walls of office premises. It indeed applies to the virtual world.
Any correspondence, message, video, audio etc which is sexually coloured, is send/transmitted/ conveyed through any electronic means is a sexual harassment under the provisions of POSH Law.
In following judgments, the Hon’ble Courts have considered sexually coloured messages over mobile phone, is a sexual harassment to a woman under POSH Laws.
1. Jahid Ali vs.Union of India & Ors. – Delhi High Court
2. Ajay Tiwari vs University Of Delhi And Ors – Delhi High Court
It means, in the given situation of COVID-19 where we all are working from home, we are at workplace -24*7 and all electronic medium used by us for discharging our duties are also workplace e.g. laptop, mobile phone, all video/ audio calls etc. In the process, if any woman receives any unwelcome, sexually coloured message, text, talk, video etc, will fall under the purview of POSH Laws. She can very well initiate the action as per POSH Law as if she works within the physical premises of the office.
So, for all women who are working from home, relax and do your best at work;The law is there to protect you from sexual harassment.