The Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) Scheme
The administration of the Act is carried out by the Central Board of Trustees which comprises representatives of three parties viz. the government, employers and employees. The Board is assisted by the Employees’ Provident Fund organization (EPFO) which falls under the purview of the Government through the Ministry of labor and Employment. Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) is a government scheme that is managed by the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). Companies with minimum 20 employees have to register with the EPFO as per the law. Employees and employers contribute to the EPF corpus on a monthly basis. The EPF scheme aims to provide financial security to the employees after their retirement. It also encourages employees to save money every month so that the accumulated savings can come in handy during unemployment or post retirement.
The aim of the Employee Provident Fund(EPF) scheme is to promote retirement savings for employees across India. The Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) is a corpus of funds built through regular, monthly, contributions made by an employee and his/her employer. The amount contributed to the fund is based on a fixed rate. Employees earn interest on their EPF balance. Both, the interest earned and the total amount withdrawn at maturity are tax-free, making this one of the most popular forms of long-term retirement savings among the working population in India. Besides retirement, funds accumulated in an employee’s EPF account can also be used at time of resignation or death. It also offers financial security in times of emergency and if an employee is rendered unfit for unemployment.
The EPFO, therefore, services an unusually large number of subscribers. This, coupled with the large number of associated transactions involved, ranks the EPFO among the largest organizations, globally. There are currently more than 5 crore members that the EPFO services. Under the Act, the EPFO operates three schemes in all viz.
- Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme, 1952
- Employees’ Pension Scheme, 1995 (which replaced the Employees’ Family Pension Scheme, 1971)
- Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme, 1976
Under the Act, member employees are eligible for provident fund, pension and insurance benefits as per the above mentioned schemes.
Benefits of EPF Scheme
The EPF scheme is one of the most important savings schemes in India for many reasons. Key advantages are highlighted below.
Tax-free earnings: The interest earned on funds held in an EPF account is tax-free. Withdrawals at maturity/beyond 5 years are also tax-free (except in case of premature withdrawal). This helps optimize growth and returns on savings. Contributions made towards EPF are tax deductible u/s 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1956.
Financial Security: Funds in the account are not easy to withdraw and so savings is ensured.
a. Retirement - eventually, the amount collected provides financial security at time of retirement.
b. Emergencies - The funds are also useful in times of emergencies to meet certain requirements for which premature withdrawals are allowed in certain cases
c. Loss of income - If an employee for some reason cannot work any longer, these funds help tide over loss of income.
- Resignation - After 2 months of resignation employees can withdraw accumulated amounts in their PF accounts
- Death - the accumulated amount is passed on to the employee’s nominee providing them financial stability.
- Disability - If employees cannot work any longer, EPF Balance can be withdrawn to tide one over.
- Retrenchment or discharge - This where employees are laid off from work. PF savings can bridge the income gap till another job can be found.
Long-term savings option: This is a sound savings option for employees with long-term investment goals.
Source of funds: In times of need, EPF funds can provide an employee much needed liquidity. Funds can be borrowed to meet certain pressing needs such as medical, housing, marriage and education.
Pension: Under the Act, along with provident funds, an employer also contributes towards an employee’s pension fund which the employee can eventually use upon retirement.
Insurance: Under the Act, an employer also contributes towards an employee’s life insurance in the absence of a group cover, thereby ensuring employees are insured.
Universal access: Employees can transfer their accounts when they change employers and with the introduction of the Universal Account Number (UAN) they can now access their EPF accounts through a single-point.
- EPF offers 8.55% interest rate p.a. for FY2018-19. The contributions made by the employee and employer will accrue interest earnings over a period of time. Thus, providing financial security to the employee post retirement.
- EPF offers tax benefits in the form tax exemption for EPF withdrawals if made after 5 years of continuous contributions and tax deductions on EPF contributions.
How to withdraw 75% of the EPF corpus after one-month unemployment?
Salaried individuals who have contributed to the Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) can now withdraw up to 75% of their EPF corpus if they have been unemployed for minimum one month. Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) had recently decided to permit EPF contributors to get an advance against their EPF corpus upon job loss that results in unemployment for a minimum period of one month. This decision was taken by the central board of trustees (CBT) of the EPFO. However, a statutory notification is required in order for the decision to be approved.
Previously, the EPF rules stated that withdrawal of the complete EPF corpus upon unemployment was allowed only if the individual was unemployed for a period of minimum 2 months. The complete withdrawal of EPF corpus meant the closing of an EPF account. Thus, to ensure EPF subscribers don't close their account and still have access to their funds, the EPFO had decided to let the EPFO members who have been unemployed for at least a month to withdraw up to 75% of the EPF corpus.
For complete withdrawal of EPF corpus, you have to fill and submit Form 19. For withdrawing pension amount from the Employees' Pension Scheme (EPS), you have to fill and submit Form 10C. Likewise, for partial withdrawal of the same for the purpose of medical treatments, children's education, wedding expenditure, etc., you have to fill and submit Form 31. The composite form has combined all the above-mentioned forms into one which has then been categorised into Aadhaar and Non-Aadhaar categories.
- The Aadhaar-based composite form is for those who have linked their Aadhaar, PAN, and bank account with the UAN. These individuals can submit their withdrawal claim online using the Aadhaar composite form. Since the EPFO has the individual's KYC and EPF account details, the employer’s intervention is not required. Only if the details don't match is the individual required to reach out to his or her employer.
- The Non-Aadhaar composite form is for those individuals who have not linked their Aadhaar to their UAN. Thus, this form has to be signed and attested by the individual's employer and has to be submitted to the EPF office by the employer. For the claim settlement to be processed, it will take up to 2 weeks.
In conclusion, as per the new provision under the Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme, 1952, salaried employees who have contributed to the EPF can get an advance of up to 75% of the EPF corpus upon unemployment for a period of minimum one month. The remaining 25% of the EPF corpus can be withdrawn upon 2 months of unemployment. This provision will prove to be beneficial to more than 5 crore EPFO members as it prevents premature closure of EPF accounts. The objective of the EPF scheme is to provide social security to salaried employees upon retirement. The new provision will allow EPFO members to enjoy quick withdrawal of money while keeping their EPF accounts active even after unemployment.
Employer’s Contribution to EPF
- Employee's contribution: 12% of an employee's basic pay + dearness allowance + retaining allowance is deducted from the employee’s monthly salary and contributed to the employee's EPF account.
- Employer's contribution: A matching 12% is contributed by the employer. Out of the 12%, 3.67% is contributed to the employee's EPF account while the remaining 8.33% is made to the Employees' Pension Scheme (EPS) account.
The minimum contribution is now set at 12% of Rs.15,000 = Rs.1,800 i.e. Rs.1,800 from the employee and Rs.1,800 from the employer. (It was earlier at 12% of Rs.6,500 p.m. = Rs.780).
While the entire contribution from an employee is directed towards his/her provident fund, a part of the employer’s contribution goes towards pension and insurance and also administration costs in the following proportions
12% of salary (basic + DA) total contribution = 8.33% to EPS and 3.67% to EPF
Additionally, 0.5% to EDLI; 1.1% to EPF administration costs and 0.01% to EDLI administration costs. This means the employer’s total contribution is 13.61%
How to calculate interest on EPF Balance
The interest rate is declared on a per annum basis but the interest is calculated for every month. The interest rate for a month is the per annum rate divided by 12 months. E.g. if you consider an EPF interest rate of 12% p.a. then the rate for each month is 12/12 = 1% p.m.
Let us consider the following example for the fiscal year 2014 - 2015 for which the EPF deposit rate was 8.75% p.a. Assume the employee started contributions in the month of December.
- First, calculate the interest rate per month = 8.75 / 12 = 0.73%
- Next, remember that the employees entire contribution is directed toward his/her EPF account.
- Lets consider he/she contributes 12% of Rs.15,000 = Rs.1,800 per month; this is credited to his/her EPF account at the end of the month when he/she receives his/her salary.
- So in this case, the first months contribution i.e. Decembers contribution will earn interest only after completing a month in the account, which will be the end of the following month i.e January
- His/her employer will match this contribution = Rs.1,800. However, remember that only 3.67% of the employers contribution is directed towards the employees EPF account and the balance 8.33% is directed towards the employees EPS account. Therefore, the employers contribution to the employees EPF account = Rs. 3.67% * Rs.15,000 = Rs.550
In this case, monthly contribution to EPF by the employee & employer = Rs.1,800 + Rs.550 = Rs.2,350
|Dec 2014||Balance at end of Dec. = Rs.2,350|
|Interest for Dec. 2014 = Nil|
|Jan 2015||Balance carried forward from Dec. = Rs.2,350|
|Balance at end of Jan = Rs.2,350 + Rs.2,350 = Rs. 4700|
|Interest for Jan. 2014 = Rs.4,700 * 0.73% = Rs.34.31|
|Feb. 2015||Balance carried forward from Jan. = Rs.4,700|
|Balance at end of Jan = Rs.4,700 + Rs.2,350 = Rs.7,050|
|Interest for Feb. 2014 = Rs.7,050 * 0.73% = Rs.51.46|
|March. 2015||Balance carried forward from Feb. = Rs.7,050|
|Balance at end of March = Rs.7,050 + Rs.2,350 = Rs.9,400|
|Interest for Mar. 2014 = Rs.9,400 * 0.73% = Rs.68.62|
At the end of March, total interest earned for 2014 – 2015 will be credited to the employees account
= Rs.34.31 + Rs.51.46 + Rs.68.62 = Rs.154.39
This will be added to Aprils balance. Assuming the employees contribution and EPF interest rate remains the same for FY 2015 - 16
|Apr. 2015||Balance carried forward from Mar. = Rs.9,400 + 154.39 = Rs.9,554.39|
|Balance at end of Apr.= Rs.9,554.39 + Rs.2,350 = Rs.11,904.39|
|Interest for Apr. 2014 = Rs.11,904.39 * 0.73% = Rs.86.90|
|May. 2015||Balance carried forward from Apr. = Rs.11,904.39|
|Balance at end of Apr.= Rs.11,904.39 + Rs.2,350 = Rs.14,254.39|
|Interest for May. 2014 = Rs.14,254.39 * 0.73% = Rs.104.05|
This continues till the end of March 2016 when interest earned for the year will be added up and credited again.
How to Transfer EPF offline
To transfer EPF account balances from past employers to present employers
- An employee will have to fill and submit a duly attested Form 13 to his/her past or present employer. The form can be attested by either the past of present employer.
- As mentioned above under section ‘Form-13’, the form will then have to be submitted to the regional EPF office relevant to the attesting employer. PF contributions from the old account will be transferred to a Trust.
- The old employer will have to submit Annexure K to the relevant Regional Provident Fund Commissioner (RPFC) or Regional EPF office. Annexure K will indicate the employee’s tenure of service and the pension fund account balances. When Annexure K is received and verified, the PF trust will complete the transfer process through NEFT. The balance from the old account will then be credited to the employee’s new account.
- In many cases, though, Annexure K is not submitted which means money cannot be credited by the Trust to the new account. There is no way to track this which led to a large number of transfer cases being stalled. For this reason, claim forms and Annexure K were then digitized to facilitate online EPF transfers.
How to Transfer EPF online
To transfer EPF account balances from past employers to present employers online, an employee will have to go through the EPFO portal/website at www.epfindia.gov.in
- First verify that the past and present employers have registered digital signatures with the EPFO. If they don’t have digital signatures, follow the offline PF transfer procedure.
- On the EPFO portal’s home page, choose the option Online Transfer Claim Portal (OTCP)
- Next choose the option to check eligibility to file a transfer claim online (the other two options are for detailed instructions and FAQs)
- To check eligibility for OCTP, provide prior PF details viz. the old and new EPF account numbers.
- If registered with the site, log-in with the member id; if not register to get log-in details.
- Logging-in entails filling in the document type and number and mobile number (same as the log-in details for the member portals). This will lead to the Online Transfer Claim Application.
- Request for account transfer under the ‘Claim’ option in the menu.
- Part A, Part B and Part C of Form 13 - Request for Transfer of Account Form will be displayed.
- Part A - fill in personal details viz. name, mobile number, email id, bank account number and IFS code.
- Part B - fill in details of the old PF account viz. The PF account number and EPF office. Proceed to obtain the following details viz. the employee’s old establishment name and address, the employee’s name, date of birth, joining and exit date, father’s/spouse’s name and the relevant EPF office where the account was held. If the date of birth is not displayed, ensure this detail is updated.
- Part C - similar to Part B, except this pertains to the current PF account details.
- Choose to have the form/claim attested by the current or old employer.
- Preview the form once completed and make changes as required, if any.
- Get the Pin and accept the declaration. Finally enter the pin as sent to the provided mobile number to submit the online claim/form for transfer of PF account.
- Print the filled in form, sign, and submit it to the chosen employer for attestation. The chosen employer verifies the form in the portal. Once verified, the EPFO will proceed to transfer the account.
- Issues can be logged on the portal through the grievance system.
Eligibility for online transfers can be checked on the same portal by providing the old and new pf account details. You can track your EPF transfer claim status online through the portal. Offline transfers are hard to track.
Automatic Transfer of EPF on job change
The Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) provides a retirement savings scheme for private sector employees. The Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) scheme provides social security to employees after retirement. The employer and employee will have to contribute 12% of the employee’s basic salary to EPF. After retirement, the employee will get a lump sum amount with interest and pension.
Employees who have contributed to EPF for a minimum of 10 years become eligible for pension. Therefore, it is advisable to transfer the old EPF account to the new employer instead of closing it. Employees will receive a 12-digit Universal Account Number (UAN) which is allotted by the EPFO to the EPF members.
When changing jobs, employees have to decide whether they want to transfer their EPF account to the new employer or close it. EPFO allows members to automatically transfer EPF accounts upon job change. The process of automatic EPF transfer is as follows:
- After joining a new company, the employer will ask the employee to submit F-11 which is the 'Composite Declaration Form'. The form has to be filled with personal details and the Universal Account Number.
- If the UAN is linked with the employee's Aadhaar and also verified by the previous employer, then the employee will receive a message about the PF auto-transfer to his or her registered mobile number.
- If an employee wants to stop auto-transfer, then he or she has to make the request as soon as possible, or else the transfer will occur within 10 days of the employee receiving the auto-transfer message.
- The auto-transfer process will be initiated only after the new employer makes the first contribution deposit to the new EPF account.
- If an employee's UAN is not verified by the previous company, then he or she has to apply for EPF transfer through the offline channel.
The transfer of EPF accounts has become hassle-free and simple with the digitisation process adopted by the EPFO. An EPF member/employee just has to furnish a few basic details along with the UAN to the new employer and the new employer will have to update the details provided on the EPFO portal. This will initiate the automatic transfer of the PF money from the old EPF account to the new one.
PF subscribers can check their EPF/PF balances and account status updates through their passbooks which records transactions made with respect to their PF accounts. The employees PF status and account updates are recorded in this passbook on a monthly basis and will include contributions made, interest credited, withdrawals made (if any) and PF member details such PF account number, the employee-member’s name and birth date.
Earlier, employers would provide employees with an annual statement detailing contributions made by each party and interest earned thereon. This statement would be sent to the employer by the relevant EPFO office at the end of a financial year.
In 2012, however, the EPFO introduced EPF e-passbooks or online EPF passbooks which members can access and download through the EPFO portal, www.epfindia.gov.in. These e-passbooks contain all transactions pertaining to their account (as mentioned above). The e-passbook can be downloaded multiple times, as required.
To avail the EPF e-passbook facility, members will have to first register on the epf members portal. Also, it is only available to those employees for whom the ECR (Electronic Challan cum Receipt) has been uploaded by their employers and for whom the employer has remitted dues; applicable from May 2012. (Employees who discontinued service prior to March 2012 will have to put in a request for the passbook. This can be done through the portal). Additionally, this facility does not apply to those employees whose accounts are inoperative or have been settled. However, employees can request passbooks of inoperative accounts to be displayed by putting in a request for the same through the portal.
Once registered on the member portal, subscribers can download their e-passbooks by providing the following details viz. the state of the PF office, the PF office, the company code, the PF account number and name of the subscriber. Once this is done, the authentication pin has to be generated through the ‘Get Pin’ icon. Once received via the registered mobile number, it has to be entered at the bottom of the page after agreeing to the disclaimer. This will give subscribers the link to download their EPF e-passbook.
EPF Member Portal - Registration
- On the EPFO site (www.epfindia.gov.in) subscribers should choose the member portal featured under the section ‘For Employees’.
- This will lead to the welcome page, at the bottom of which is a link to ‘Register’
- On clicking this link, subscribers will be directed to a page wherein the following details will have to be filled/chosen viz. subscriber’s mobile number, birth date, document, document number, name of subscriber as provided on the document, email id.
- Once filled in, an authentication pin will have to be generated by clicking on ‘Get Pin’. This pin number will be sent to the subscriber’s mobile and the same has to be entered at the bottom of the page, after agreeing to the disclaimer.
(The document chosen to register cannot be changed later. Documents include identity proofs like AADHAAR, PAN, NPR, Voter ID, Driving License, Bank Account or Passport.
- Once completed, a message will be displayed stating that the registration process was successful.
- Log-in details will be sent to the subscriber’s mobile. These details can be used to log into the EPF members site thereafter. Additionally, the subscriber will have to verify his/her email id through the email sent to it.
- To log-in to the EPF member portal, there is no requirement for a user id or password. The subscriber simply chooses a type of document and enters the document number. This acts as his/her user id. The registered mobile number acts as his/her password.
On registration the subscriber can view one PF account per establishment and up to 10 accounts under different establishments. Besides being able to access the PF passbook online, subscribers also get single-point access to all their accounts.
How to check EPF Balance Online
EPF balances can be checked online in the Know Your EPF Balance of the EPFO site. To check your PF balance status, click on the link provided. Choose the relevant EPFO office and fill in your PF account number, including extension number, if any. Fill in your name and mobile number. On submission of all these details, an update on the PF balance will be sent to the mobile number provided. Alternatively, the EPF balance can be checked using the Universal Account Number or UAN.
How much amount can be withdrawn from the EPF corpus?
Almost every salaried employee contributes towards EPF in India. While the accumulated EPF amount is withdrawn generally at the time of retirement, there are certain other factors that qualify for premature withdrawals. Refer to the below table for premature withdrawal norms and the maximum amount that can be withdrawn.
|Reason for withdrawal||Eligibility Condition||Amount||Number of times|
The member should have completed 7 years since enrollment in EPF scheme. The withdrawal is allowed on the occasion of:
||50% of the accumulated amount||Thrice during the entire career|
|For education||Withdrawal is allowed only for the education of children and the PF member should apply using Form 31||50% of the accumulated amount||Thrice during the entire career|
|For medical treatment||For treatment of self, spouse, parents, and children. Certificate of proof should be submitted||6 times the monthly salary of the person or the accumulated EPF amount (whichever is lesser)||Anytime|
|For Buying a house||Should be employed from 5 years, and the property should be registered in the individual’s or his spouse’s name or should be jointly owned.||36 times the individual’s monthly salary||Once|
|For repayment of home loan||Should be employed from 10 years, and the property should be registered in the individual’s or his spouse’s name or should be jointly owned.||36 times the individual’s monthly salary||Once|
|Pre-retirement||Should be at least 54 years of age||90% of the EPF balance||Once|
To make changes to personal details viz. name, birth-date and husband or spouses name, employee-members can initiate the process through their employers using the correction form which has to be submitted/declared jointly i.e. between the employee-member and the employer. The changes will have to be effected in the EPF database. Documentation to support the changes required will have to be provided to the employer.
PF members may want to make changes because the names or birth-date updated in the database is incorrect. The name may have been misspelled or otherwise, or changed after marriage. Sometimes, employers erroneously update employees details. It is important to correct errors in the name and birth-date in the EPF database because such discrepancies can create issues at time of withdrawal of PF or during other PF transactions.
By checking the EPF passbook online or through the UAN portal, one can check for errors in PF database pertaining to name and birth-date. If request for change has been made, applicants can update or track whether changes have been effected in the EPF database by checking the passbook subsequent to submitting the application.
Eligibility criteria for EPF membership
EPFO increased the wage ceiling on PF eligibility from Rs.6500 to Rs.15,000 due to salary revisions in both organized and unorganized sector. At present, any employee whose income is above Rs.15,000 is eligible to enroll for EPF scheme. But some organizations also enroll employees below the aforementioned salary range depending on certain conditions. However, once enrolled, you cannot cancel your EPF membership.
Inoperative/Dormant EPF accounts
As per the recent notification by EPFO, even those accounts that remained idle from a couple of years will not be classified as inoperative. Since 2011, government had stopped paying interests to dormant accounts. However, with the new rule in place even the inoperative accounts too will start accruing interests at the rate of 8.8% per annum. The new reform will prove to be beneficial for around 10 crore workers in the country. Furthermore, it can be considered as a safe investment option as even the inoperative PF account will continue to accumulate interests till the time the employee retires from his job.
EPF Tax Exemption
As per the Budget notification of 2016-17, only interest accruing on 60% of the employee contributions towards EPF will be taxable. This is with effect from 1 April 20166. However, employees whose monthly income is below Rs.15,000 are exempted from tax.
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