New Delhi, Aug 1 (IANS) The central government on Monday announced that the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) Act will be amended to bring more workers under the ambit of retirement fund by reducing the threshold for coverage of firms to 10 workers from existing 20.
“We are going to amend the EPF Act. Now it is available where there are 20 or above workers. Once the amended law becomes effective, then the coverage will be increased where the number of workers is 10. That is why, a large number of workers, including workers in the unorganised sector, can also come under the purview of this act,” Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattareya informed the Lok Sabha during question hour.
The minister said no proposal is under the consideration of the government to allow EPFO subscribers to contribute voluntarily towards pension scheme in addition to their employers’ mandatory contribution.
He said effort is on to bring more workers under the ambit of various social security schemes for which more projects are being unveiled. “There is more focus on these workers,” he said.
Responding to the ‘plight’ of beedi workers following the introduction of 85 per cent pictorial display on tobacco products, Dattatreya said the Labour Ministry is working to impart vocational skills to beedi workers.
Various members raised supplementary questions.
Expelled RJD member Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav wanted to know if the minimum pension money will be raised.
Dattareya said EPF pension scheme is “contributory” wherein the employer pays 8.33 per cent while the central government 1.16 of the share. “We are actively considering enhancing the amount from existing Rs 15,000,” he said.
Taking supplementary questions from Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress, the minister said any employment of child in beedi units is totally banned.
“No child can work as a worker in beedi factories. In respect of children who help their families, there are educational schemes and scholarship is given,” Dattareya said.
He said the government is all “for the welfare” of the workers employed in beedi industry.
“I know about the issue very well as large number of them work in beedi units in my home state Telangana,” he said.
He also said beedi workers are covered under group insurance scheme and provided assistance of Rs 10,000 in case of natural death and Rs 25,000 in case of accidental death. Rs 1,500 is also provided for the funeral of deceased workers.
Financial assistance of Rs 5,000 is given to widows or widowers of beedi workers, he said.