4️⃣Prevention of sexual harassment

👋 Introduction

Obvious believes in equal employment opportunity and that sexual harassment undermines the safety and dignity of all persons. We do not tolerate verbal or physical conduct that creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile environment for our employees. Harassment of any kind, including sexual harassment, is forbidden in this organization and every employee has the right to be protected against it.

1️⃣ Prevention of Sexual Harassment Policy

The purpose of this policy is to prevent any acts of sexual harassment and to provide redressal in the event of sexual harassment at the workplace.

This policy has been created in accordance with the provisions of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

Direct sexual harassment

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

  1. Physical contact and advances

  2. A demand or request for sexual favours

  3. Making sexually coloured remarks

  4. Showing pornography

  5. Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature

  6. Deprecatory comments, conduct or any such behaviour based on the gender identity or sexual orientation of a person

  7. Continued expressions of sexual interest against a person’s wishes

  8. Creating a hostile work environment by putting a complainant (on sexual harassment) in disadvantageous position with regard to employment, associated privileges, benefits & career enhancement

Further behaviours of sexual harassment are defined as, but not limited to:

  1. Verbal harassment of a sexual nature, such as lewd comments, sexual jokes or references, and offensive personal references; demeaning, insulting, intimidating, or sexually suggestive comments (oral or written) about an individual's personal appearance or electronically transmitted messages (Jokes, remarks, letters, phone calls);

  2. A demand or request for sexual favors, sexually colored remarks, showing pornography, any other unwelcome physical conduct of sexual nature, lurid stares, physical contact or molestation, stalking, sounds, display of pictures, signs,;

  3. An act or conduct by a person in authority which makes the environment at workplace hostile or intimidating to a person or unreasonably interferes with the individual’s privacy and productivity at work;

  4. Any other behaviour which an individual perceives as having sexual overtones.

Indirect sexual harassment

If the following circumstances, occur in relation to or are connected to any sexual act or behaviour of sexual harassment, also amount to sexual harassment:

  1. Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in their employment

  2. Implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in their employment

  3. Implied or explicit threat about their present or future employment status

  4. Interferes with their work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for them

  5. Humiliating treatment likely to affect their health or safety

Where does it apply?

  • This policy is applicable:

    • in office premises

    • to all locations where employees travel while on assignment

    • in any place where the employee visits in connection with her/his work with Obvious, including transportation provided for undertaking such a journey

To whom does it apply?

  • This policy is applicable to all employees employed:

    • for any work on regular, temporary, ad-hoc or daily wage basis

    • either directly by Obvious or through an agent, including a contractor, with or without the knowledge of the principal employer

    • for remuneration or not, or working on a voluntary basis or otherwise

    • as a coworker, a contract worker, probationer, trainee, apprentice or by any other such name

This policy is applicable even when a complaint is filed by an outsider or third party who has visited the workplace.

2️⃣ Redressal

If you are working for our organization and in the course of your work, you have been sexually harassed by anyone, we urge you to come forward with a written complaint as early as you can.

Submitting a complaint

  1. Write to the Internal Complaints Committee: Submit a written or electronic complaint to the Internal Complaints Committee. You can write to [email protected] or approach any member of the committee with the complaint.

  2. Submit the complaint within 3 months of the incident: Submit the complaint within 3 months of the occurrence or 6 months if there are exceptional circumstances due to which you cannot submit the complaint earlier.

  3. Keep documents for evidence: We advise you to be vigilant and keep any document with you which can be used to substantiate an allegation. The redressal system will work based on other evidence if you cannot produce any documentary evidence.

If the complainant cannot make a written complaint because of physical or mental incapacity or death, their legal heirs can make the complaint on their behalf.


After a complaint is submitted, the redressal process is as follows:

  1. The ICC reviews the complaint: The ICC shall take cognizance of the complaint at the earliest, within 10 days of receiving the complaint.

  2. The ICC informs the accused or respondent: Within 10 days of receiving the complaint, the person who is accused by the complainant will be informed that a complaint has been filed against them.

    1. They will be made aware of the details of the allegation and also the name of the complainant as it would be necessary for proper inquiry.

    2. No unfair acts of retaliation or unethical action will be tolerated.

  3. The complainant can ask for conciliation: The complainant has the opportunity to ask for conciliation proceedings. A request for conciliation should be made within 2 weeks of receiving a reply from the respondent.

    1. Conciliation is a practical mechanism through which issues are resolved or misunderstandings cleared. It doesn’t mean acceptance of complaint by the respondent.

    2. In such conciliations, the complainant cannot demand monetary compensation.

  4. A settlement is reached between the complainant and respondent: In case a settlement is arrived at, the committee will record & report the same to the employer for taking appropriate action.

    1. The Committee shall provide the copies of the settlement as recorded during conciliation to the complainant and the respondent.

    2. The respondent complies with the terms and conditions.


If no settlement is reached between the parties, or if the respondent is not complying with the terms and conditions, the complainant can approach the ICC for an inquiry process.

  1. The complainant requests for a formal inquiry: The ICC shall proceed with the formal inquiry process within 7 days of receiving the request.

  2. The ICC questions both the complainant and the respondent separately: An aggrieved person or respondent shall not question each other or other witnesses directly but may raise questions to be asked of that party through the Committee, which will determine whether to ask them.

  3. The ICC questions witnesses: If required, the person who has been named as a witness will need to provide the necessary information to assist in resolving the matter satisfactorily. The Committee shall call upon all witnesses mentioned by both the parties.

    1. The Committee shall also call upon any witnesses it feels may provide necessary and vital information in regards to the inquiry.

  4. The ICC requests for documents: The ICC can ask for specific documents from a person if it feels that they are important for the purpose of investigation.

  5. The ICC completes its investigation and prepares a report: The Committee should complete its investigation within 90 days of a complaint of sexual harassment and prepare an inquiry report that includes the recommended decision and the reasons for arriving at the decision.

  6. The ICC notifies the complainant and respondent: Notification of the decision and the reasons shall be individually given to the respondent and complainant on the same day.

  7. The ICC shares the report with the employer or District Officer: The Committee should share the report with the employer (or the District Officer) within 10 days of completion of the investigation.

  8. The employer or District Officer takes action against the respondent: The employer or the District Officer will act on the recommendations of the Committee within 60 days of the receipt of the report.

Any party aggrieved by the report can prefer an appeal in the appropriate Court or Tribunal in accordance with the service rules within 90 days of the recommendation been given to the employer/District Officer.

If a party is not present for more than 3 consecutive hearings, without sufficient cause, the Committee may, after giving that party a notice of 15 days, give an ex parte decision on the complaint.

Disciplinary Action

Where any misconduct is found by the Committee, appropriate disciplinary action shall be taken against the accused, up to and including termination. This action shall be in addition to any legal recourse sought by the complainant.

In case the ICC 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 management of the organization, for making a Police complaint as may be appropriate.

3️⃣ Safeguards

Protecting the complainant

It is the role of the ICC to ensure that the complainant or the witness are not victimized or discriminated against.

  • Option to seek transfer or leave: During the conciliation and inquiry, the complainant can seek transfer or leave so that the inquiry process can continue smoothly and to prevent recurrence of similar situations or discomfort to the complainant.

    • The leave can extend for a maximum period of 3 months. Leave granted under this provision will be paid leave and will not be counted in the number of leaves that the complainant is statutorily entitled to.

    • The Committee has the discretion to grant leave of an appropriate duration, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, or grant an alternate measure such as transferring the employee or the accused, as it deems fit.

  • Option to work from home: The complainant may be required to work from home, if it is practical, keeping in mind the nature of work of the complainant, health and mental condition. However, the complainant is under a good faith obligation and shall not abuse the process.

  • Protection from a hostile environment: The Committee shall also take note of the inherent power asymmetry and/or the vulnerability of the complainant in such cases and take steps to ensure that the aggrieved person is not subjected to a hostile environment during the investigation.

  • Protection from retaliation: Regardless of the outcome of the complaint made in good faith, the employee lodging the complaint and any person providing information or any witness, will be protected from any form of retaliation.

  • Protection from retaliatory action: Any unwarranted pressures, retaliatory or any other type of unethical behaviour by the respondent against the complainant while the investigation is in progress should be reported by the complainant to the ICC as soon as possible.

    • Retaliation cases must be treated as seriously as an alleged case of sexual harassment even if the original harassment complaint is not proven.

  • Confidentiality: The contents of the complaint made, the identity of the complainant, respondent and witnesses, any information relating to conciliation and inquiry proceedings, recommendations of the ICC and the action taken by the employer shall not be published, communicated or made known to the public, press and media in any manner.

    • Any person contravening the confidentiality clause is subject to disciplinary action as prescribed in the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013.

Protecting the respondent

If the ICC finds that the complainant has maliciously given a false complaint against the accused, disciplinary action shall be taken against the complainant as well.

  • Establish malicious intent through a separate inquiry: While deciding malicious intent, the Committee should consider that mere inability to substantiate a complaint need not mean malicious intent.

  • Recommend disciplinary action against the complainant: If the ICC arrives at the conclusion that the allegation against the respondent is malicious, they must recommend the employer to take appropriate action against the complainant.

4️⃣ Roles and Responsibilities

To ensure a safe workplace, every one, including ICC members, have roles and responsibilities.

Internal Complaints Committee

The Internal Complaints Committee is constituted for our organization by the management to look into matters concerning sexual harassment. The Committee consists of the following persons:

The Committee is responsible for:

  1. Remaining free of bias and conducting inquiries in a fair manner, and as per the process outlined

  2. Conducting a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation of a complaint

  3. Recording minutes of the proceedings in English or another language familiar to the complainant or the respondent

  4. Ensuring that at least 3 members of the committee, including one woman, is present for each hearing

  5. Submitting an annual report comprising details of all cases and actions taken at the end of each calendar year

  6. Keeping information completely confidential, and disclose it strictly on a “need to know” basis

  7. Setting an example of proper and appropriate workplace behaviour and ethical standards

  8. For assisting employees with filing a complaint in the police station if they face sexual harassment outside of the organizational work and work premises

Selecting ICC members

The President and other members of the committee shall hold office for such period, not exceeding three years, from the date of their nomination as may be specified by the employer. A complainant can approach any member of the committee with their written complaint.

According to The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act,

  1. The President of such committee shall be nominated by the employer and must be a woman employed at a senior level at workplace or administrative unit or office of the employer.

  2. At least two members must be nominated who preferably have worked for the cause of women or have basic legal knowledge.

  3. One independent member must be nominated. Such member should have experience of working with an NGO or associations committed to the cause of women or any person familiar with issues relating to sexual harassment. The external member shall be paid such fees or allowances for holding the proceedings of the Internal Committee, by the employer, as may be prescribed.


  • To forward or submit to the ICC any written complaint from any complainant and to co-operate during any investigation as part of the inquiry process.

  • Be aware of and abide by laws applicable to them.

  • Be aware of and to not participate in any prohibited or inappropriate behaviours or activities while representing Obvious.

  • Provide a full and truthful disclosure of relevant information and assist with investigations of alleged policy violations.

  • Handle information related to known or suspected violations of this policy in a discreet and confidential manner.

  • Not attempt to investigate the information or suspected violations of this policy on their own and/or without involving the Internal Complaints Committee.

  • Adhere to ethical behaviours and standards as per Obvious’s Code of Conduct.

The Company (Obvious)

Obvious is responsible for providing a safe working environment for its employees that is free from harassment, bias and prejudice of any kind.

  • Treat Sexual Harassment as misconduct under the service rules and take appropriate action as required.

  • Encourage respectful and dignified behaviour at the workplace at all times.

  • Have zero tolerance toward acts of sexual harassment.

  • Declare the names and contact details of all members of the ICC.

  • Display at conspicuous places in the workplace the penal consequences of Sexual Harassment.

  • Organize workshops and awareness programs at regular intervals for sensitizing employees, keeping in mind the provisions of this policy.

  • Organize orientation and skill-building programs for the members of the ICC.

  • Provide the ICC with any support it may require in the process of conducting an inquiry.

  • Assist in securing the attendance all parties required for an inquiry, including the respondent, complainant and witnesses.

  • Provide assistance to the complainant if he/she/they chooses to file a complaint in relation to the offence under the Indian Penal Code or any other law for the time being in force.

  • Monitor the timely submission of reports by the ICC.

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