HomePOLICIESSexual Harassment Policy

Sexual Harassment Policy

The occurrence of sexual harassment in the workplace in the Indian context was taken note of, and guidelines on its prevention and deterrence were laid down by the Supreme Court in 1997. In keeping with these guidelines, the 'Prevention Of Sexual Harassment (POSH) Committee' has been formed in the Company. Based on these guidelines a clear policy has been formulated on what is considered to be sexual harassment and how to deal with such cases and redress complaints made to the POSH. Sexual harassment of any kind is considered unacceptable in any employee and will attract appropriate disciplinary action. The Company considers itself responsible for the well-being of all its team members and customers and will do its utmost to ensure that it delivers on that.

1What constitutes sexual harassment?

Any unwelcome sexually motivated behaviour directed towards any Vastu team member such as the following constitute sexual harassment:

  • Physical contact and advances.
  • Demands or requests for sexual favors.
  • Sexually-coloured remarks.
  • Showing pornography.
  • Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or nonverbal (including e-mails, SMSs, etc.)conduct of sexual nature. If in such a situation a threat is made of adverse consequences to a victim's physical well-being, academic career or employment, the case will be dealt with especially severely. Harassment is not always a directed act. Deliberately creating a hostile or humiliating working environment in a manner that is sexually discriminatory will also be considered sexual harassment.

2What to do and not to do if you feel you are in this situation?

Key Action Steps

  • Know your rights. Sexual harassment is illegal.
  • Speak up. If you can, tell the person to stop. State clearly and firmly that you want a particular behaviour to cease.
  • Get information and support. If you feel you cannot speak up, ask your friends to help you and bring it to the notice of the POSH committee. Keep records that might be useful for pursuing the case.

What not to do

  • Do not blame yourself. Sexual harassment is not something one brings on oneself. It is not a consequence of certain ways of dressing or acting. It is a violation of an individual’s right to work and live with dignity.
  • Do not ignore it. Ignoring sexual harassment does not make it go away. The harasser may misinterpret a lack of response as approval of the behaviour.
  • Do not delay. Delay in action increases the probability that unwanted behaviour will continue or escalate.
  • Do not hesitate to ask for help. Speaking up may prevent others from being harmed as well.

Process of Redressal

Whom to approach and how to lodge a complaint?

Complaints can be made verbally, through email, or in a letter to any member of the Prevention Of Sexual Harassment (POSH) Committee. Complaints can be made directly by the person facing harassment or even by/through a third party.

Given the prevalent social attitude in our country, sexual harassment is often considered the victim's own fault, making them reluctant to lodge a complaint. In such a situation we strongly encourage third party complaints in order to ensure the well-being of our colleagues.

Safeguards to those making complaints

POSH guarantees anonymity of complainants and all persons involved. All complaints will be dealt with equal seriousness irrespective of the positions held by the persons involved. In view of the complicated nature of sexual harassment, complaints will be considered even when it is difficult or impossible to provide concrete evidence. All complaints have to be addressed within 3 months.

Redressal Process

A Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) Committee has been formed, the names of which have been known to all employees. For every complain the committee will decide to form an investigating team and will appoint the members.

  • The Prevention Of Sexual Harassment (POSH) Committee shall comprise of 4 members.
  • The Committee shall be represented by both the genders and shall be such that at least 50% members are women.
  • The Chairperson/ of the POSH committee shall be a senior female employee.
  • Preference of membership will be given to employees who are committed to cause of women or who have had experience in social work or/and have legal knowledge/background.
  • The Committee will also have one member from amongst Non-Governmental Organizations or associations committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment.

General Guidelines

  • The Committee will meet as and when it receives a complaint from an employee regarding sexual harassment.
  • Vastu team members who wish to submit a complaint of sexual harassment should submit a written note to the Committee unless exceptional circumstances exist, in which case the team member can submit the compliant to a Committee member over phone. All complaints to be sent to the head office (addressed to Chairperson/at the HO address/phone numbers or send a mail to posh@vastuhfc.com). Authenticity of the complainant shall be verified by the Committee before proceeding further.
  • An acknowledgment shall be sent to the Complainant, with the names of the investigating team members. If the details of the acknowledgment have factual differences then the complainant should revert.
  • The logged complaint shall be distributed to all the members for their views by the Chairperson of the committee.
  • The Committee shall meet within 3 working days of the compliant being received either in person or through electronic media. Quorum for Committee meeting shall be a minimum of 2 members.
  • The Committee shall meet on Company premises, unless it is impossible to do so because of confidentiality concerns or connect through electronic media.
  • Any person who has a compliant of sexual harassment by a team member in the course of his/her employment may submit a compliant in writing to any of the members.
  • If any member other than the Chairperson receives the compliant, he or she shall forthwith call upon the Chairperson of the Committee to convene the meeting.

Procedure for inquiry

The POSH on receiving a complaint shall constitute an investigating team from within its members which attempts to find all facts related to a complaint. It is ensured that this committee consists of members who cannot be considered prejudicial and have little or no relationship to the accused.

  • Notice of inquiry shall be served by the Chairperson on the complainant and the employee against whom the compliant is lodged.
  • The Chairperson shall nominate 3 of the Committee members to conduct the investigation and submit report to the Committee. Quorum for Committee meeting shall be a minimum of 2 members from the existing committee.
  • The committee has the power to summon people involved in the case or whoever can provide information.
  • At the time of the investigation both complainant and opposite party shall be personally called and their statement shall be recorded.
  • However, the committee can reach a decision in absentia if the accused refuses to cooperate.
  • If necessary, in very serious and sensitive situations, the Head Office representative shall travel to the location of the victim for investigation.
  • The investigation team is at liberty to cross examine any of the parties to ascertain the truth of the complaint.
  • If any of parties specifically, requests maximum of two witnesses can be allowed from each side to substantiate their claim.
  • The Committee shall consider the statement and other evidences available, in a joint sitting and shall decide the truth or otherwise of the complaint by majority decision.
  • The report of the Committee shall be forwarded to the MD with its findings. Report shall be finalized within 3 months of the complaint being logged in.
  • All team members who participate in the inquiry, including the Committee, will keep the matters discussed during the inquiry confidential.

Action by Management

  • The designated disciplinary authority shall consider the report submitted by the Committee within 15 business (working) days from the date of submission.
  • The MD shall review the report submitted by the Committee and initiate the appropriate action against the accused under the provisions of the certified orders of the Company.
  • If the management is of the opinion that additional information is required to initiate the action against the accused, it can call for additional information from the parties involved.
  • The action taken on the basis of the complaint and the decision of the management shall be communicated to the complainant in writing.

The recommended action can range from a verbal warning, to requiring the accused to undergo counseling, up to dismissal/termination. Where the conduct of the accused amounts to a specific offense under the Indian Penal Code or under any other law, appropriate action in accordance with law may be initiated.

The POSH committee is required to make a report of each complaint received and action taken to the National Commission for Women within a year.

Sexual Harassment