Around 8.2 lakh members of retirement fund body EPFO and private PF trusts have dipped into their savings and withdrew Rs 3,243.17 crore to sustain in the lockdown imposed by the government to contain COVID-19.
Earlier last month on March 28, the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) had allowed formal sector workers under its ambit to withdraw a non-refundable advance from their retirement savings to deal with hardships due to lockdown.
“EPFO under Union Ministry of Labour & Employment, has settled a total of 12.91 lakhs claims, including 7.40 lakhs COVID-19 claims under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) package,” a Labour Ministry statement said.
Claims settlement involves disbursal of total amount of Rs 4,684.52 crore which includes Rs 2,367.65 crore COVID claims under the PMGKY package.
The exempted private PF trusts have also risen to the occasion amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry said.
As on April 27, 2020, Rs 875.52 crore have been disbursed to 79,743 PF members as advance for COVID-19 by the exempted PF Trusts under this scheme, with 222 private sector establishments disbursing Rs 338.23 crore to 54,641 beneficiaries, 76 public sector establishments disbursing Rs 524.75 crores to 24,178 beneficiaries and 23 cooperative sector establishments disbursing Rs 12.54 crores to 924 claimants, it said.
Private PF trusts manage their employees’ PF money and account themselves. They are exempted to file monthly PF return and thus also called exempted establishments.
Tata Consultancy Services Mumbai, HCL Technologies Ltd. Gurugram and HDFC Bank Powai, Mumbai are the top three exempted establishments in the private sector, both in terms of number of claims settled and amount disbursed, it said.
In public sector, ONGC Dehradun, Neyveli Lignite Corporation Neyveli and BHEL Trichy are the top three exempted establishments to have settled maximum number of COVID-19 advance claims; whereas, Neyveli Lignite Corporation Neyveli, ONGC Dehradun and Vishakhapatnam Steel Plant Vishakhapatnam are top three establishments in terms of amount disbursed to EPF members, it said.
The provision for a special withdrawal from the EPF Scheme to fight COVID-19 pandemic is part of the PMGKY scheme announced by the government and an urgent notification on the matter was made to introduce a para 68 L (3) of the EPF Scheme on 28th March, 2020.
Under this provision non-refundable withdrawal to the extent of the basic wages and dearness allowances for three months or up to 75 per cent of the amount standing to member’s credit in the EPF account, whichever is less, is provided.
Despite only one-third staff being able to work due to lockdown, EPFO is committed to serve its members during this difficult situation and EPFO offices are functional to help them during these testing times, it said.