In the wake of coornavirus COVID-19 outbreak in India, the Labour and Employment Ministry on Saturday (March 28) notified amendments to the Employees’ Provident Funds Scheme (EPFO) with an aim to allow the EPFO members to allow withdrawal not exceeding the basic wages and dearness allowances for three months or up to 75 per cent of the amount present in the EPF account of the member.
“The Commissioner or, where so authorised by the Commissioner, any officer subordinate to him, may, on an application from any member of this Scheme employed in any establishment or factory located in an area declared as affected by outbreak of any epidemic or pandemic by the appropriate government, permit a non-refundable advance from the provident fund account of such member not exceeding the basic wages and dearness allowances of that member for three months or up to seventy-five per cent of the amount standing to his credit in the Fund, whichever is less,” the Ministry’s notification said.
The EPFO members will be allowed to apply for the withdrawal online and all EPFO members will be able to avail the facility. The EPFO has also communicated to its field offices across the country directing them to inform the officers about changes so that such claims are “processed promptly and relief reaches the worker and his family to help them fight with COVID-19”.
“Please note that the COVID-19 has been declared pandemic by appropriate government for the entire country and therefore the employees working in establishments and factories across entire India, who are members of the EPF Scheme, 1952, are eligible for the benefits of non-refundable advance”, the communication said.
On Thursday (March 27), Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced that the Centre will pay the EPF contribution both of the employer and the employee (12% each) for the next three months under PM Gareen Kalyan Scheme.
The Union Minister remarked that the scheme will be applicable for companies with up to 100 employees, where 90% of employees are getting less than Rs 15,000 as salary.
Sitharaman had also announced that the Centre had decided to amend EPFO regulations which will benefit 4.8 crore employees. After the amendment, workers under EPFO will be allowed to to draw up to 75% of their non-refundable advance or 3 months of wages, whichever is lower.