EPFO puts controversial circular on hold

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SummaryControversial circular made it difficult to probe into defaulting employers and recover workers dues.

Under fire from several quarters, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation on Tuesday put on hold a controversial circular that made it difficult to probe into defaulting employers and recover provident fund dues of workers.

“It has been decided to keep the said circular in abeyance with immediate effect and till further orders,” the EPFO said in a missive to all field offices. The original circular was issued by former central PF commissioner RC Mishra on November 30 — his last day of service, which had been red flagged by trade unions and also been opposed internally by the PF department. Apart from putting a seven-year limitation clause on investigations into PF defaults, the circular also introduced a controversial clause for lump sum assessments of establishments that hire migratory workers on short term basis.

Apparently referring to the construction and real estate sector, it had barred assessments unless individual members in whose account the fund is to be credited are identified. EPFO officials were also hauled up the labour ministry and asked to explain the sudden decision to issue the circular without prior consultation. Launching a detailed inquiry into the issue, labour minister Mallikarjun Kharge had also sought an explanation on the special provisions that would benefit construction firms.

The labour ministry also gave additional charge of the EPFO to one of its own officials. Ravi Mathur, additional secretary, was given additional charge as the Central Provident Fund Commissioner.

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