Retirement fund body EPFO is planning to engage agents to improve delivery of its social security schemes as done by the Income Tax Department to facilitate tax payers and improve compliance.
“We will also have to bring in service centres directly or indirectly to facilitate our subscribers like income tax department where authorised tax agents provide service at reasonable price,” Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation’s (EPFO) Central Provident Fund Commissioner K K Jalan said addressing a Seminar on ‘Good Governance in Labour Ministry’.
Later Jalan told PTI that the EPFO is “working on a proposal to engage agents to provide specialised services such as claims settlements, filing EPF returns and other compliance issues.”
He further said that these agents would be trained to cater to employers as well as employees who could be educated or uneducated.
A senior EPFO official said,”The EPFO subscribers must have an option of such specialised service. There are a large number of tax payers who are well educated but they still prefer to consult a authorised tax agent registered with the Income tax department.”
EPFO has a subscriber base of over five crore who are mainly organised sector workers. The body settled 1.21 crore claims pertaining to transfer and withdrawal of PF, fixation of pension and insurance claims during the previous fiscal.
These social service agents could also help the EPFO in a big way in case of Universal (portable PF) Account Number scheme.
EPFO had issued over four crore UANs to employers in July this year, but few lakh UANs have been activated so far, the official said adding that for activating a UAN, the member has to login himself after uploading of KYC documents by employer.
The official said that a large number of organised sector workers may not be tech savvy and thus social security agents can help them to use of UAN scheme.
Under the UAN, the PF account of the subscribers remains portable throughout his life despite changing jobs and shifting to different locations. Besides it also helps member to collate their accounts on real time basis.
Jalan said that EPFO has provided online facility to its about 25,000 employees to register their service or HR related grievance or complaints.
On this occasion, Additional Labour Secretary, Arun Kumar Sinha said that the government has planned to launch a separate scheme to register about 43 crore unorganised sector workers from April 1 next year as a central database is needed for their welfare.
“Not much has been done for the unorganised sector workers though there is a legalisation – Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act 2008 – passed by Parliament for their welfare,” he said.