Jul 1, 2014

Govt seeks to implement pending labour schemes

Govt seeks to implement pending labour schemes

New Delhi: Even as it discusses labour reforms, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is ready to roll out sops for industrial workers. 

Labour and employment minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Monday said the new government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are committed to “speedy industrialization” even as he promised to implement two pending schemes within 15 days: increasing the salary cap from Rs.6,500 to Rs.15,000 for an employee to be eligible to join employees’ provident fund scheme; and doubling the minimum pension to Rs.1,000.

“There was some work pending on those issues... it was incomplete and within two weeks you will see some good results... I had already promised this to the trade unions,” said Tomar after a meeting with Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) officials. He said he has already discussed these issues with the finance minister Arun Jaitley. 

The implementation of the schemes will immediately make five million more workers eligible for social security and retirement benefits. 

Currently, employees with a salary of up to Rs.6,500 per month come under the purview of labour ministry-controlled EPFO. 

Also, doubling the minimum pension will benefit some 2.7 million pensioners. In all, there are 4.4 million pensioners under the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS) run by the EPFO. 

Tomar said the EPFO is on a reform path, adopting more technology and becoming user-friendly. “As you all know, Indian government and the PM are committed to simplifying services and bringing speed in work,” he said. 

Also, firms may register online and become an EPFO member within 24 hours without visiting a government office, Tomar said. This was one of the points on the government’s 100 days agenda. 

“What was taking 25-30 days will now be done within one day,” said central provident fund commissioner K.K. Jalan, adding manual intervention will be curtailed significantly and industries will no longer have to make physical applications.

 Tomar said the EPFO will also achieve other tasks assigned to it for the first 100 days, including the allocation of universal account number to members of PF (provident fund). 

The retirement fund body has a subscriber base of over 88 million workers, but only 36.7 million are active users or those who have been contributing to the fund up to the last two months. The organization manages a corpus of more than Rs.7 trillion. The annual PF accrual grew by over 16% during the 2013-14 financial year over the previous year.

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