International workers (IW) enjoy several benefits under the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and the Employees Pension Scheme (EPF). Indians working in a foreign country with which India has signed a Social Security Agreement (SSA) as well as foreign nationals employed in India in a firm covered by the EPF & MP Actmay be considered as IWs if they meet specific conditions mentioned in the EPF Scheme.
For the benefit of migrant workers, India has entered into bilateral SSAs with 20 countries — Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Luxembourg, France, South Korea, Netherlands, Hungary, Finland, Sweden, Check Republic, Norway, Austria, Japan, Quebec, Portugal and Brazil.
According to the Brochure on International Workers released recently by EPFO, Indian employees moving to work in an SSA country can get a Certificate of Coverage (COC) from the EPFO if they are contributing to a contributory pension scheme in India. The COC will exempt such workers from paying social security contributions in the SSA country. However, if you are moving to a non-SSA country, you may have to contribute towards social security in India as well as in the country of work. Two categories of IWs are excluded: Citizens of an SSA country with a COC issued by his/her home country; and Singapore nationals who are contributing to their country’s social security system as per India Singapore CECA 2005.
IWs can make a full withdrawal from their EPF accounts in case of retirement, permanent or total incapacity to work and mental infirmity. Members covered under SSA can withdraw the full amount on ceasing employment.
An IW is eligible for EPS pension after serving for more than 10 years. An IW from SSA country can make a withdrawal in case his service after totalisation is less than 10 years. He /she can avail early pension from the age of 50 years after serving over 10 years. In case of the death of an IW, his/her survivors become eligible for pension.