What is Employee Provident Fund Organization/EPFO?
This falls under the under the administrative power of the Ministry of Labor and Employment. The EPFO came into existence through the Employees’ Provident Fund Ordinance passed in 1951 which was the predecessor to the Employees’ Provident Fund Act, 1952. The Employees’ Provident Fund Act, 1952 is currently known as Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952. This is applicable all over India, except in the state of Jammu & Kashmir.
The schemes under this Act is implemented by a governing body -the Central Board of Trustees. The CBT makes all relevant decisions related to the implementation and execution of the schemes under this programme which are the Employee Pension Scheme (EPS), Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme (EPF) and Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme (EDLI). These schemes are mandatory contributions that have to be made by its members and are administered by the Central Board of Trustees (CBT).
Brief History of the Origin of EPFO
Under the "Directive Principles of State Policy", the Constitution of India makes the provision that each State should make an arrangement for its residents in relation to the right to education, to work and for assistance in the event of old age, unemployment, illness and disablement. Based on this provision the Parliament enacted the Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952.
Structure of EPFO
The organization's administrative work is categorized into several zones that are headed by an Additional Central Provident Fund Commissioner in each one of the States in India. Each state has at least one Regional Office which is taken care of by the Regional Provident Fund Commissioners (RPFC) (Grade I). The power hierarchy is further subdivided into Sub-Regions that are taken care of by Regional Provident Fund Commissioners (Grade II). The Assistant Provident Fund Commissioners assist them. There are district offices located in most regions, with an Enforcement Officer who inspects and oversees the local establishments and resolves grievances.
Services Provided by the EPFO
Introduced by the Indian Government, the main aim of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) is to help individuals save for their retirement. The Ministry of Labour and Employment regulates the EPFO with effect from 1951.
Given below is the list of services that are offered by the EPFO:
- Universal Account Number
The Universal Account Number (UAN) was introduced by EPFO in order to bring various member IDs under a single account. It is a distinctive 12-digit number that is given to every individual who is a part of the EPFO. Multiple Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) accounts can be linked under one UAN. Various services such as viewing and downloading passbook, downloading UAN card, receiving an SMS regarding monthly contributions towards EPF, and linking multiple EPF IDs are offered by the UAN.
Employees must register their UAN online in order to avail the services. Once the UAN is activated, employees can log in to the EPFO portal using their UAN and password. Individuals can also update their Know Your Customer (KYC) details on the EPFO portal as well.
- Inoperative Accounts Helpdesk
Introduced in February 2015, the Inoperative Accounts Helpdesk helps employees track their dormant or old Provident Fund (PF) accounts easily. Employees can use this service to claim the PF amount or transfer the PF account from their old company to the present one by providing personal details and details of their previous employment.
- Online Registration of Establishment
It is very easy for organisations or companies to register for EPFO online by using this service. All details can be done online and there is no necessity to visit the EPFO office.
- PF withdrawal can be done online
In case individuals remain unemployed for more than 2 months, they can withdraw their PF amount. The online process is very simple and can be done by providing the required KYC details.
- Certificate of Coverage for international workers
An online form has been introduced by the EPFO for EPF members who are working abroad but have a Social Security Agreement with India. The Certificate of Coverage (CoC) is provided to such members through a centralised software.
If individuals have any issues regarding their pension settlement, PF transfer, PF withdrawal, etc., a complaint can be raised online. With the introduction of the grievance services online, the number of issues has been reduced from 20,000 to about 2,000 to 3,000.
- Transfer of EPF online
The introduction of the UAN has made the process of transferring the PF account of the employee’s old organisation to the new one simple. Employees are required to only provide basic details for the transfer of accounts.
- Payments of PF online
It is compulsory for every company that is a part of the EPFO to transfer the PF amount online. The banks that EPFO has tied up with currently are Kotak Mahindra Bank, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, Allahabad Bank, Indian Bank, Punjab National Bank, and State Bank of India.
- Missed call and SMS service
Individuals can get details of their PF account by sending an SMS (EPFOHO UAN, followed by the initial three characters of the language) to 7738299899 or by giving a missed call to 011-22901406. However, the UAN must be activated for individuals to avail these services.
- Claim status and passbook
Employees can check the status of their claim and view and download their passbooks on the EPFO portal by using their UAN and password.
EPFO Grievance Management System
EPFO has also provided an online portal called EPFO Grievance management system for employers to seek a solution to their grievances. They can register a grievance online by filing a grievance registration form. In this form you have to provide information such as: Status (whether you are an employer, PF member, EPF pensioner or other category), PF number, related EPFO office, name of the establishment, address of the establishment, personal details such as complainant’s name, address of the complainant, phone number and email ID. Once these are filled, under the relevant column marked for grievance description write the details pertaining to the same after specifying the grievance category. Under this section the categories to choose from are -Final settlement or PF withdrawal, transfer of PF accumulations (F-13), scheme certificate (10 C), pension settlement (10 D), Issue of PF Balance or PF slip, Payment of Insurance Benefit, Cheque misplaced or returned, or other categories. Once you have registered a complaint and have not received a response, you can send a reminder to the organization through the same online portal by choosing the “send a reminder” option and filling in your grievance registration number, password and captcha and then clicking on the “Submit” tab. You can also view the status of your registered complaint online using this portal and entering the details described above.
EPFO TRRN query online for Employers
Employers subscribed to this scheme can also check the status of their EPFO TRRN Query online by entering the TRRN No. in the portal and clicking on “show status” option.
Online Transfer Claim Portal
This is offered by EPFO in order to enable employees to submit the transfer claims online and thereby make the transfer procedure more transparent and convenient. Through this portal, an employee can submit his/her transfer claims to his/her previous employer or current employer. By filing the claim requests, the establishments/ employers can perform functions such as view these transfer claims, verify it or correct the same, approve and submit the same online. An authorized person’s digital signature is mandatory while submitting claims online. Employees can also check their eligibility for applying for a transfer claim online. All they have to do is provide the details of their previous account which has to be transferred to the current account, such as the PF account number, EPFO office, state, etc. and the details of the current PF account such as state, account number, EPFO office, etc. Then, click on the “check eligibility” option to view whether you are eligible for the same or not.
Helpdesk for Inoperative Account
EPFO offers a helpdesk to its members to assist them in matters related to an inoperative account. Interest will not be accumulated in the account is it becomes inoperative. The helpdesk will assist members in tracing their accounts and combining it with their present account or will help to withdraw the same. If you are a first time user, click on the link given in the portal and you will be redirected to a page where you can submit the details related to your particular problem. You have to write the problem description in the corresponding box and click on submit. Then on the next page, you have to fill in your employment details such as establishment code, PF account number, name of the establishment, address of the establishment, state, district, city, pin code, name of the owner, date of joining, date of leaving, PF office name, and so on. The helpdesk will get back to your with relevant information and solution to your problem at the earliest.
For International Workers
For the benefit of employers and employees from India who are working/ functioning abroad, the government of India has entered into an Agreement with other countries through the EPFO.
This gives weightage to pension eligibility, social security contributions to be made, etc. The EPFO issues a “Certificate of Coverage” to those employees who are working overseas in countries that have an Agreement with the Indian Government, under this facility. The countries which have an Agreement with the Indian government are - Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Denmark, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Finland, Hungary, Sweden, Norway, Czech Republic, Canada and Austria. International workers can also use the EPFO portal for online application of COC (Certificate of Coverage). The details that have to be entered are employer details, employee details and details of the place in which the employee works in such as the name of the establishment, address, etc.
For Indian Citizens
Indian Citizens, in general, can also use the EPFO online portal in order to register for UAN allotment. In order to register for the same, citizens must provide their email id, mobile number, KYC details such as name as per Aadhaar card, the Aadhar number, or if you do not have an Aadhar card, you can give your name as given in your PAN card, PAN number, etc. In can you do not have a PAN Card or an Aadhar card, you can provide the details as given in your passport, such as name, passport number, or, name as given in your voter’s ID and the Voter’s ID card number. You will also have to provide other personal details such as your date of birth, gender, and address for communication, father’s name, mother’s name, name of spouse, education qualification, industry, etc. Next, you have to fill in relevant details pertaining to your bank account such as bank account number, IFSC code, etc. Then, upload documents such as your photograph and signature. Enter the captcha and click on “Generate Authorization Pin”. Once you receive the Pin on the mobile number you have provided, enter this in the column provided and proceed to the next step.
Recent Measures taken by the EPFO
- Down payment of home loans is covered by EPF withdrawals: Individuals can use up to 90% of their EPF money for down payments for buying a new house. Equated Monthly Instalments (EMIs) can also be paid by subscribers using their EPF account.
- Single Composite Claim Form: EPFO members can easily withdraw their PF money without providing many details. Individuals can also withdraw their PF money online by updating their KYC details.
- Withdrawal of PF: Individuals can withdraw their PF amount if they remain unemployed for more than 2 months. However, a certain portion of their PF money can be withdrawn for reasons such as marriage, education, purchase of land or house, repayment of home loan, and for house renovation even if they are employed.
EPFO’s Agreement with International Workers
Employees who work in countries that have made an agreement with the Indian government may receive a Certificate of Coverage that the EPFO has been authorized to issue. The agreement will benefit Indian employees and employers working in other countries.
- It will ensure that the employees do not refrain from making contributions to the home country.
- The agreement will make sure the employee receives pension benefits in the country he/she chooses to live in.
- The deal will also see to it that employers do not make double contributions to the same employees for social security.
Benefits of the Schemes Implemented by the EPFO
The following are the benefits of the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS), Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme (EPF) and Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme (EDLI) undertaken by the EPFO:
Benefits of the Employee’ Provident Fund Scheme (EPF), 1952
- The employee can receive a regular pension after retirement. The accumulated amount contributed to the Pension Fund each month over the years plus the interest accrued on the same is paid out to the employee upon his/her resignation, retirement or death.
- Employees can withdraw money from their pension fund early under special circumstances. Partial withdrawal of the PF amount is permitted for special cases such as higher education, house construction, illness, marriage, etc.
Benefits of the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS), 1995
- Under this scheme monthly benefits are offered to employees upon retirement, superannuation, etc.
- Widows and children are entitled to monthly benefits (upon death of the employee)
- The pension amount paid out after retirement is calculated based on the average salary earned in the 12 months close to the employee’s date of retirement and the total years of eligible service offered by him/her.
- Under this scheme, participants of the Family Pension Scheme (1971) will also get benefits for services rendered.
Benefits of the Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme (EDLI), 1976
- The family of an employee who has enrolled for this scheme, will be entitled to various benefits upon the death of the employee. The employee has to be a member of the Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme at the time of his/her death.
- The benefit paid out to the employee’s family will either be 20X the average wage earned by the employee or the total funds accumulated in his/her PF account, whichever is the lowest.
- The insurance benefit can be as much as Rs. 3 lakhs.
UAN Services offered by EPFO
UAN aka Universal Account Number that is allotted by the Employee Provident Fund Organization (EPFO). Under a single UAN, the multiple member identification number of member IDS of a single member are linked together. Each employer of the establishment where the employee joins have to add the unique member identification number or member ID allotted to the employee under the UAN assigned to the particular member. The UAN services offered by the EPFO on the UAN member portal website are:
- Passbook download
- UAN Card download
- KYC Details (entry and update)
- List of all the member identification numbers or member ID
- Checking online transfer claim eligibility
- Editing personal details
How to check your EPF/ Pension Claim Status Online
Members of the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS), Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme (EPF) and Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme (EDLI) can check their claim status online on the online portal made available by the EPFO. The member can access this by using his/her PF account number. In order to check your Claim Status online follow the simple steps given below:
- On the online portal, click on the Claim Status Information.
- Then select the state in which your PF office is located and choose the EPFO office
- Once you have selected the EPFO office, the Office code and Region code will be auto populated in the corresponding fields.
- Next, enter the code of the establishment (maximum length should be only 7 digits)
- Enter the extension code of the establishment
- Enter the PF account number
- Click on “submit” and upon successful completion of this process you will receive all the details related to your claim status online.
The EPFO sets the wage ceiling limit in order to stipulate which all workers are entitled to the benefits under the EPF scheme as per the maximum salary earned. Initially the wage ceiling was Rs. 6500. Currently, the wage ceiling is Rs. 15,000 (including basic salary, dearness allowance and retention allowance) and employees who earn lesser than or equal to this amount in wages are entitled to coverage under this scheme. Those employees whose wages (consisting of the sum of basic salary, dearness allowance and retention allowance) exceeds this amount, can opt out from coverage under the EPF scheme. The deduction made towards PF contribution from an employee will be 12% of the basic salary + dearness allowance.
New Initiatives Undertaken by EPFO
- Online allotment of PF number to organizations
- Universal Account number (UAN) for members
- Electronic Challan cum Return (ECR) Portal facilities
- New Initiatives in Pension Process
Key Points to Remember
- Office Code has three characters only. E.g.: HYD for Hyderabad
- Establishment code has only 7 digits. E.g. 7890123
- Extension has 3 characters only. E.g. CD2
- PF Account number has 7 digits only. E.g. 7890123
- A mobile number can be used only once for registration. Multiple registration with the same number is not possible.
FAQs on EPFO Portal
1. Is the Provident Fund Scheme, Pension Scheme and an Insurance Scheme introduced by Employee Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) mandatory?
Yes, the Provident Fund Scheme, Pension Scheme and an Insurance Scheme introduced by Employee Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) is mandatory, especially for employees who fall under the wage ceiling set by the organization.
2. Does this cover international workers as well?
Yes. The schemes cover Indian workers as well as International workers in countries where a bilateral agreement has been signed with the Indian Government. There are 14 Social Security Agreements made with India by countries such as Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Denmark, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Finland, Hungary, Sweden, Norway, Czech Republic, Canada and Austria. International workers can also use the EPFO portal for online application of COC (Certificate of Coverage).
3. What is the prevailing interest rate on Provident Fund accumulations?
The current rate of interest applicable on Provident Fund accumulations is 8.75%.
4. What is UAN? How is it connected to the EPF programme?
UAN or Universal Account Number is a 12-digit number that will be allotted to each member who contributes to the EPF Scheme and this will be generated by EPFO for each PF member. For example, the UAN number will be 123456789121. This UAN will cover the Member IDs that are allotted to an individual when they are employed by various establishments. Thus the Universal Account Number links multiple Member Identification Numbers that are assigned to a single member. With this facility, a member can view the details related to all their Member Identification Numbers once they have their UAN number and have registered for this. The UAN will remain the same throughout the course of an employee’s career.
5. How can I know what my UAN is?
In order to know your UAN, you can contact your employer. All employers are to have details pertaining to an employee’s UAN.
6. What is the minimum number of employees required in an establishment for it to come under the purview of this Act?
The minimum number of employees required in an establishment for it to come under the purview of this Act, is not less than 19 employees.
7. What are the e-governance initiatives undertaken by EPFO?
The e-governance initiatives undertaken by EPFO are Online Transfer Claim Portal (OTCP), Online Registration of Establishment (OLRE), and Online Monthly Return for Exemption Establishment, etc.
8. What is “Superannuation” pension?
An employee is entitled to superannuation pension if he/she has provided a service for a period of 10 years or above and has retired at the age of 58 years.
9. When is an employee entitled to an early pension as per the Employees’ Pension Scheme?
As per the Employees’ Pension Scheme, an employee entitled to an early pension when he/she has provided a service for a period of 10 years or above and then ceases to be in employment or retires before attaining the age of 58 years.
10. What is the procedure of withdrawing PF account money and Pension Fund money through the UAN portal once the employee has left a job and joined a new organization?
When the employee leaves a job and joins a new organization, he/she should get the funds transferred to the new account under the present employer. The UAN facility permits portability of funds from one account to another since it links an employee’s Member IDs. This will be done only after the KYC information has been verified by both the establishments.
11. What is the UAN Helpdesk Contact Details?
You can contact the UAN Helpdesk regarding any queries related to the UAN member portal at the following number: 1800 118 00 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
12. How much of an employee’s wage is considered for making a PF contribution?
The remuneration paid to an employee is cash is considered while calculating the monthly PF contribution. This will exclude wage categories such as Overtime allowance, House Rent Allowance (HRA), Commission or any such incentives, bonus, presents given to the employee by the employer, etc.
13. Is there a tax benefit on the schemes offered by Employee Provident Fund Organization (EPFO)?
Tax is not applicable on the EPF earned by an employee. The contribution made by the employer is not taxed and a contribution of the employee for an amount of up to Rs. 1 Lakh is deducted from taxable income under Section 80(C) of the Income Tax Act. The interest (as per the rate set by the EPFO) accrued on the same is also not taxable. This is applicable only in terms of the Government’s EPF scheme.
14. What is the mode through which Employers should pay the PF due?
Employers must pay the PF due through Electronic Challan cum Return (ECR).
15. How are Electronic Challan cum Return (ECR) documents generated?
The E-return tool is used by EPFO to generate the Electronic Challan cum Return (ECR) documents.
16. What is the E-Return Tool? How to use the E-Return Tool?
The Employees Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) offers the E-Return Tool to employers for ease of payment of PF on behalf of their employees. This tool can be downloaded and all monthly payments can be paid electronically using. In the main menu you can select "Generate returns for submission to EPFO" to generate the Electronic Challan cum Return (ECR) and upload it online in the employer’s e-Sewa.
17. What is a digital signature certificate (DSC)? How is it relevant in procedures undertaken by EPFO?
Digital signature certificate (DSC) is an electronic form of hardcopies of certificates such as passport, driving license, etc. These act as identity proof for individuals who are applying for certain services online or for signing documents digitally. With the enactment of the Information Technology Act, 2000, Digital Signature Certificates have become legally valid in India. EPFO stipulates that its users must use Digital Signature Certificates in order to attest their online claims and also to verify their identity and other details submitted online. When this is digitally attested and submitted there is no need to submit any physical documentation to the EPFO office.
18. Why should an employer register his/her establishment on the EPFO employer portal?
An employer has to register his/her establishment on the EPFO employer portal because all PF contributions and other related activities can only be performed online through this portal. The Electronic Challan cum Return has to be uploaded in this portal in the prescribed proforma and the receipt will be populated accordingly. Many other services can also be availed through the EPFO employer portal by registering for the same.
19. How to purchase a Digital Signature Certificate?
In order to purchase a Digital Signature Certificate that is legally valid, you can approach the Govt. of India, Certifying Authorities (CA) (such as NIC, e-Mudhra, TCS, n-code, MTNL, etc.) and Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA) that issue these certificates.
20. Who is the Certifying Authority?
Certifying Authority is a recognized agency that issues, renews and revokes Digital Signature Certificate. The Information Technology Act 2000 authorizes Certifying Authorities to issue Digital Signature Certificate. Some of the Certifying Authorities (CA) in India are NIC, e-Mudhra, TCS, n-code, MTNL, etc.
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