Around 9.4 million claims of formal sector workers related to various schemes of the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation were settled since April this year – 32 per cent higher than the previous year, the Union Labour and Employment Ministry said on Tuesday.
“Despite the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has been able to settle a staggering 9.44 million claims thereby disbursing about Rs 35,445 crore to its members during the period April-August, 2020,” the ministry said in an official statement. It added that these were 32 per cent higher than the claims settled in April-August 2019 and the amount disbursed increased by about 13 per cent.
Around 55 per cent of the total claims related to EPF advance withdrawals in April-August 2020 were related, i.e. around 5.2 million, were related to the Covid-19 special window launched in April and roughly one-third of the advances were related to illness claims by private sector workers.
Around 75 per cent of the Covid-19 advance withdrawals belonged to workers earning less than Rs 15,000 a month.
Firms with at least 20 workers have to compulsorily contribute towards the EPF of their workers who earn up to Rs 15,000 a month.
“Timely availability of PF advances prevented many low wage earners from falling into debt, providing social security support to the weakest section of workforce during these adverse times,” the labour ministry stated.
However, there was a 35 per cent decline in the final EPF settlement claims in April-August, 2020 compared to the same period last year, even as partial withdrawals of PF money “more than doubled”. “Final PF Settlement claim allows members to withdraw their PF balance after quitting their job, superannuation, termination or at the time of retirement,” the ministry said. The EPFO has roughly 60 million subscribers.