New Delhi: Employees provident fund (EPF) members withdrew ₹39,402.94 crore between March 25 and August 31, with Maharashtra accounting for one-fifth of these withdrawals, Parliament was informed on Monday.
The government had imposed the nationwide lockdown on March 25, 2020, to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Total withdrawals from EPF accounts stood at ₹39,402.94 crore from March 25 to August 31 this year, Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.
The maximum amount of EPF withdrawals from March 25 to August 31 were recorded in Maharasthra ₹7,837.85 crore, followed by Karanataka – ₹5,743.96 crore and Tamil Nadu (including Puducherry) – ₹4,984.51 crore.
The total EPF withdrawals in Delhi during the period stood at ₹2,940.97 crore.
The minister informed the House that in order to ameliorate the hardships faced by the labourers due to economic disruption caused by COVID-19 pandemic, various initiatives have been taken by the Ministry of Labour and Employment as part of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) and Atmanirbhar Bharat.
These include payment of 12 per cent employers’ share and 12 per cent employees’ share under Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), totalling 24 per cent by the government for six wage months from March to August 2020 for all the establishments having up to 100 employees with 90 per cent of such employees earning less than ₹15,000 monthly wage.
Besides, the government also reduced EPF contribution from 12 per cent to 10 per cent of wages for the wage months of May, June and July 2020.
A non-refundable COVID advance from the EPF by amending the EPF Scheme, 1952 was also unveiled.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, the retirement body fund said it has been able to settle 94.41 lakh claims thereby disbursing about ₹35,445 crore to its members during the period of April-August, 2020.
During this period, EPFO has settled around 32% more claims as compared to corresponding period of last year (April-August, 2019) while the amount disbursed increased by around 13%.
“To help its members tide over the liquidity needs during this crisis, EPFO fast tracked settling of COVID-19 advances and illness related claims. It introduced auto mode of settlement for these two categories of advances. Auto mode of settlement reduced the claim settlement cycle to just 3 days for most claims in these two categories against the statutory requirement to settle claims within 20 days. Notably, 55% of advance claims settled during April-August 2020 were related to the recently introduced Covid-19 advance while around 31% of advances settled during the period pertained to illness claims,” said Ministry of Labour & Employment in an official statement.