Casual civic workers likely under EPF net

Written by Rituparna Bhuyan | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 7 2009, 06:50am hrs
The countrys top social security provider, the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), has proposed to bring casual and contract workersworking for municipal corporationsunder its net. If implemented, six to ten lakh people would be able to enjoy provident fund and pension benefits for the first time since Independence. At the same time, the move could strain the finances of cash-strapped municipal administrations.

Calling for a new industry classification, municipal corporations/ committees to be notified, the Central Provident Fund commissioner K Chandramouli had written to the government in August. The outsourced employee on whom lies the paramount responsibility of discharging the work of providing basic infrastructure facilities like cleanliness and sanitation to the urban masses at the cost of being continuously exposed to dirt and filth, are deprived of any social security benefits to which they are rightfully entitled in a welfare state, he argued.

Chandramouli also pointed to recent litigations between civic bodies and contract providers, citing that there is a legal ground for extending PF benefits to such workers. There were numerous litigations in Himachal Pradesh and Delhi and Chennai on the issue of civic bodies providing social sector benefits to contract workers. There is an urgent need to introduce a separate schedule head for the municipal corporations for such employees who are not getting the benefit of PF and pension, Chandramoulis argued.

Municipal bodies outsource basic infrastructure duties to contract workers. But unlike their peers with a permanent job, contract workers in civic bodies are not given any provident fund or pension benefits. The labour ministry, however, has decided that EPFOs Board of Trustees must take a call on the issue before any notification is issued.