The issue of harassment has come to the forefront in recent months, largely due to the #MeToo campaign. Some companies have already experienced bad publicity on social media when their executives are revealed as sexual harassers. But what are the costs for companies who do not have a written sexual harassment policy in accordance with The Sexual Harassment of Women Act (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (Read more on the it here)?

The potential risks of not having a sexual harassment policy

A sexual harassment policy is a document that dictates the company’s stance on sexual harassment. It helps to define acceptable behavior and defines any consequences for violations of that policy. It also helps to establish a process for reporting incidents of sexual harassment with a clearly outlined procedure. Without a sexual harassment policy, employees may feel unclear about what is allowed in the workplace which can lead to lawsuits if individuals are terminated or disciplined unfairly. Establishments are now legally bound to have anti-sexual harassment laws in place in their workplace. Having a policy that lays down guidelines makes not only the process of prevention and redressal easier, but also helps create awareness.

The best ways to create a sexual harassment policy

An anti-sexual harassment policy provides protection to employees against sexual harassment and provides for a mechanism for the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment.   When thinking about creating a sexual harassment policy for your organisation, you need to make sure includes four important components. The first is a clearly-stated prohibition on sexual harassment. The second is a process for making a complaint, which should be made as easy as possible for victims. Third, the policy needs an investigation procedure so that there is a guarantee of confidentiality and fairness to the perpetrator and the victim. And lastly, there needs to be consequences for those who violate the policy.

How to respond to workplace issues that involved nonsexual harassment, discrimination, bullying

If your company is aware of any issues that involve nonsexual harassment, discrimination, or bullying, the first step is to do an investigation. Interviews with all parties involved are critical for this process. It’s also important to be fair and impartial. The next step is to determine if corrective actions need to be taken. If so, then employees should understand what occurred and how their behaviour impacted others. Finally, there needs to be a system set up where the employee can anonymously report any misconduct going forward.

What should be included in an HR manual?

The HR manual should outline company policy on antidiscrimination, harassment, and retaliation. It should provide information about reporting evidence of discrimination or harassment, and explain how to file a complaint with the appropriate state agency. The HR manual also needs to include a non-discriminatory policy for medical leave or disability accommodation requests.

Conclusion

The easiest way to protect your company’s reputation is by considering the ramifications of every decision. Be aware of the current social climate and know what topics are socially acceptable to joke about. Find out what your employees are talking about so you can address these issues proactively.

Finally, if you find yourself in a situation where something goes wrong, learn from it and avoid making the same mistake twice.

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