An innocuous advertisement by the relatively unknown National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language seeking proposals from nationalised banks on fixed deposit rates has sent alarm bells ringing in the Employees Provident Fund Organisation and prompted a cross-country check on compliance of PF laws by such organisations.
At the core of the matter was that the council, which is under the ministry of human resource and development, wanted to invest Rs 34 lakh from the accumulated amount in its employees’ general provident fund account to get a higher rate of interest. But since it is a registered under Society Act XXI of 1860, and is an autonomous government body with 55 employees, it has to follow provident fund laws.
Under the EPF and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, it is mandatory for organisations with more than 20 workers to contribute PF and related benefits for its workers. However, the EPFO found out that the council was unaware of these provisions.
The retirement fund manager has now begun a special drive to ensure that the 400-odd autonomous government bodies are contributing provident fund dues of their employees.
“Instances have come to the notice of head office that various autonomous bodies under different ministries of Government of India and many state governments are not depositing provident fund and allied dues to EPFO not being fully aware of the provisions of the EPF Act and schemes framed there under and thereby, violate the Act and scheme provisions,” the EPFO said in a recent missive to its field offices.
The EPFO that covers over 5 lakh organisations and has 8 crore member accounts has also asked its field offices to make a list of all such autonomous government bodies in their jurisdiction and make them aware of the PF laws.
This is not the first time government ministries and departments have been found violating labour laws. Earlier, the Central Labour Commissioner had sent notices to nine central government departments, including the railways and the ministries of finance commerce, labour and petroleum for flouting laws for contract workers.